EL ALTO, Bolivia — Thousands of indigenous people are marking Palm Sunday with an annual agricultural fair in the suburbs of one of Bolivia's largest cities.
The so-called Palm Sunday Fair, which began as a way to recreate the livestock markets of biblical times, is currently dominated by all sorts of informal trade. But the sale and purchase of animals still thrives.
Armando Risalazu said he brought his Hampshire sheep from neighboring Peru so that buyers could crossbreed them and improve the performance of common Creole sheep.
"I can't complain, sales are good," Risalazu says, adding that his cheapest sheep goes for $100; his most expensive for up to $210.
In an improvised street corral, loud bleats drown out the sound of a merchant's bargain as the smell of wet wool fills the air.
Each sheep bears a nametag on its ear — Jorge, Pilar, Paul, Lola, Pepe, Rosa and Lucho — and many appear to huddle together for protection.
Although such animals are most coveted, small pigs, ducks, rabbits, and chickens are also sold alongside farming tools, bridles and wooden plows. Clothing, fruit, vegetables, pirated CDs and satellite dishes are up for sale, too.
But only one stall appears to offer fronds for Palm Sunday.
On a recent day, Julia Ramos fanned the flames of her makeshift stove so that the fried fish she was selling didn't get cold. Others rode a giant Ferris wheel, pedaled around the fairgrounds in carts, and walked by scales offering to weigh people.
Hugo Dávalos, deputy mayor of the San Roque neighborhood, says he wants the fair to continue growing to attract business.
"Trade brings progress to the neighborhoods," he says.