Bolivian Character. The many faces of this unique, Andean nation

Colourful, fascinating and diverse, Bolivia lures adventurers from across the globe. TV host and journalist Pavel Selin is no exception: he’s been dreaming about seeing the country high in the Andes for 25 years. He travels from Russia, to discover a land of spectacular beauty, indigenous people, coca leaves and ‘Brother-President’ Evo Morales. Pavel’s longtime friend, Ramiro Rivero, will guide him through his Bolivian journey.

In this episode, Pavel is on a mission to discover the unique Bolivian character. Pavel and Ramiro explore the country’s national capital La Paz, which stands at a head-spinning 3,600 metres above sea level. 

To see the heart of Bolivia from above, the friends ride the longest cable car network in the world. It’s called the Teleferico and soars above the scattered red-brick buildings surrounded by the snow-capped Cordillera Real. The Teleferico is not just a fun journey for tourists; it's also a significant public transport solution for nearly a million La Paz residents. 

Pavel and Ramiro then join a carnival, where thousands of university students hit the streets to flaunt their home regions’ traditions, dances and costumes. It’s hard not to notice the oddly-dressed indigenous cholitas women, donning high bowler hats, full pollera skirts and colourful shawls. 

Their harmless look is deceiving as the cholitas are fearsome in the wrestling ring. Pavel goes to the city of El Alto to see the fighting cholitas and talk to them.

Related: The Good, The Bad and the Loco. Bolivia’s female wrestlers in national costume

From learning about the unique mixture of Catholicism and local beliefs to taking part in an indigenous protest, there is plenty to discover about the Bolivian character. This episode uncovers why villagers still turn to lynching, and how bowler hats made their way into the cholitas’ wardrobes. Pavel and Ramiro also meet the band Los Kjarkas, whose lyrical song ‘Llorande se fue’ (‘She left in tears’) eventually became the global dance hit ‘Lambada’.