The sign outside

The Coca Museo came highly recommended by one of the guides at the Potosi mine tour, so I was excited to stumble across it in the touristy centre of La Paz. Walking in though it became clear that it was not the amazing place I’d been lead to believe! Just about in the ‘so bad it’s good’ territory, I did enjoy my visit, but to be fair – it’s not much of a museum…

On handing over the 10 Boliviano entrance fee I was given a very thick book which I was told would act as my guide. Once I’d finished with the first of the 22 displays however, I realised that the Coca Museum is basically an exploded essay about the history of Coca rather than a traditional museum. The whole book, must be about 6-10,000 words long and it’s supported by some fairly lame ‘school project’ like displays, all housed within a fairly small room. The history is reasonably interesting, but you basically just pay to read the book and not much more.

It’s saving grace were the unintentionally hilarious displays using dressed up mannequins. My personal favourite was the display used to illustrate their (laughably simplistic) explanation on the cause and effects of cocaine addiction. Apparently it’s always terminal and you’ll end up in an anorak watching TV just before you pop your clogs. Scary stuff!

The most interesting facts (the ones I’ll remember and bore people with in pubs back in London) were about the history of Coca-Cola. As I was already aware, the drink originally contained cocaine. But more interestingly, until America’s prohibition period – it was a not that successful coca wine. It was only the banning of alcohol that lead it’s creator to look at making a non alcoholic coca based drink (the pick-me-up powers of coca being something of a sensation at the time).

At 10 Bolivianos (about 80p) it’s not expensive and I’d say if you stumble across it like I did it’s worth a look. But I certainly wouldn’t go out of my way to find it… the information’s all online if you want to read about Coca for two hours.

Details:
Linares 906, La Paz, Bolivia
www.cocamuseum.com

One of the displays... not to dissimilar to a wall in my Mum's old nursery classroom (maybe not quite as creative as that)