How to do a ‘challa’ for your van in Bolivia

How to do a ‘challa’ for your van or, in other words, how is the offering made to the Pachamama so that your vehicle – which in our case is also our house – enjoys prosperity throughout the year? We explain in this post with video.


The great entrance of the carnival of Oruro ends, giving way to Tuesday of ‘challa’. A mixture of aromas permeates the city. The same combination is present in all urban centers, villages and communities of the Bolivian highlands. A mixture of smell of flowers, beer, gunpowder and smoke arrives until the Saioneta, our campervan, where we are finishing breakfast guacamole with tortillas of quinoa.

At every moment, the tranquility of our morning breakfast is broken by the roar of a barrage of firecrackers, or ‘cohetillos’, as they call it here. We wonder where they will come from and why they will be so insistent.

We go out to see if we can celebrate on Tuesday. As we have been explained, it is a private party that families celebrate in their homes or businesses, contrasting with the public demonstration of the last two days during the entrance of the carnival.


We arrived until Calle Bolviar, one of the arteries of Oruro. There where hundreds of dancers marched on the day before the clamor of a public delivered, now we find an endless number of improvised shops. They sell bags of small flowers of all colors, ornaments, firecrackers, ethyl alcohol, a kind of white cookies with different shapes, charcoal, grills…

The floral scent mingles with the stench of the carnival hangover, accumulated on the curbs, side and side of the road.

We walk to the Velasco Galvarro, where the people have their shops permanently. Today they take advantage to sell everything necessary to do the ‘challa’, we still do not know exactly what it consists.


Arriving at the railway station we find a lady and a girl carrying a kind of charcoal-filled grill, still steaming.

– Are they going to do the ‘challa’? – I ask the lady who carries the embers, to see if she can give us any clue. With a little luck we can film how they bless their business.

“No, we already did it,” he replies as he continues on his way.

“Would you be so kind as to explain what the ‘challa’ is?” I insist, as I begin to think about the possibility of doing the ritual ourselves with our vehicle.

We take note of the explanations and return to the shops to buy flowers, decorations and ornaments for the Saioneta. We will miss the beer, which we will buy in the stores in front of the place where we have parked the van. The lady also told us that we needed a white table. We have not quite understood what we have to do with it. But in the van we have a table that combines white with gray and brown. I hope it works.



When we are about to get to our campervan, in the previous corner, we find a kiosk surrounded by people who fasten firecrackers frantically. We look better and see that they are also burning coals on a small grill. This is ours.

“Could we record you doing the ‘challa’?”

– Ask Fernando, the owner of the business – one of them answers.

Without realizing it, we are toasting with the family around the embers, where they are burning amount of white figurines. They offer us a singani combo with soda and give us coca leaves to chew, something basic during the ‘challa’. While we defy their business, they explain that the offering is not complete if the white table is not burnt, which ultimately turns out to be those sugar figures that raise white smoke towards mother earth.


Depending on what you want to do the ‘challa’, you get diferent figures, shaped like a house, vehicle, condor and many other icons that should ensure prosperity in different areas of life.

After sharing the offering and making friends with Fernando and his family, they give us the base to burn and some charcoal and they accompany us to buy our own white table, in which a condor stands out so that our dreams and ourselves continue flying free and sure.



We decorate the Saioneta with everything we have bought, we put the embers inside the car and we start to ignite cofetilles and throw confetti, streamers, soda and beer. We place the white table on the embers and this way we are concluding our own ‘challa’ for the Saioneta.



As we proast to our new friends, the smoke of the offering goes up into the sky. For a few moments, we stare at the trail that is lost in the atmosphere, happy to have shared such a special ritual in Bolivia and hoping that it will bring us prosperity for our vehicle, our house and our businesses.

Una producción de MMVIATGES, productora audiovisual y multimedia

Furgo en ruta team

2 responses to “How to do a ‘challa’ for your van in Bolivia”

  1. Josep Rof Rof

    guapo! GUAPO! guapos vosaltres, des de La Garriga BCN abraçades Josep

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