Carrying a Birkin bag; flashing Triple S sneakers from Balenciaga; arriving late in an Aston Martin. In El Alto, Bolivia, there’s a sign of wealth so large it can’t fit inside a closet or a garage: A building by Freddy Mamani.
El Alto is a relatively new city. Before 1987, it functioned primarily as a service town to the adjacent La Paz, the highest capital in the world. For the unaccustomed, La Paz can be brutal on the senses: low oxygen levels and low air pressure, and blazing UV exposure during the day with possible freezing temperatures at night. The city lies in a canyon and is structured with the wealthiest neighborhoods lower down, where it’s warmer, instead of higher up, where the views are better, as is common in other cities.
Thanks for being a loyal reader. You’ve hit your monthly article limit. Become a member to continue reading and support our journalism.
Unlock unlimited access to Quartz, including member-exclusive coverage, events, and access to our journalists.
Membership will also get you: