I recently took a hike up La Muela del Diablo (Devil`s Tooth), the craggy peak that features to the far right of my home page image of La Paz. An extinct volcano, La Muela sits at 3825m above sea level and is a foreboding sight. Legend has it that La Muela del Diablo and Mount Illimani once fought against one another, sending bolts of lightning across the valley.
Located high above the city`s most affluent neighbourhood, la Zona Sur, La Muela is a pleasant, if slightly breathless from the altitude, half-day hike that begins with winding dusty trails to the grassy base and becomes a rocky scramble to the peak. I made it to the V-shaped point between the two right-hand pinnacles, beyond which point technical climbing gear and nerves of steel are required. The daunting climb up the rocky outcrop was well worth it, with magnificent views of the bowl-shaped city of La Paz and the surrounding valleys as a reward.
La Muela is known to attract brujería (witchcraft) and I was warned against touching any evidence of this, such as the small piles of rocks scattered at intervals along the trail, remains of campfires and especially the abundant knotted grasses closer to the peak. It definitely adds an element of fear, when scrambling up a slope of scree, to know that any deliberate or accidental contact with knotted grass might have ominous consequences. I was somewhat relieved to leave the witchcraft behind and be picking my way through potato fields and clusters of cacti on the descent.
With that, I wish you all happy and peaceful holidays! ¡Feliz Navidad a todos!