Monday the 5th of May 2003 – Day 76 to Tuesday the 6th of May 2003 – Day 77


Monday the 5th of May 2003 – Day 76

I got at 9.00am and went to the market for breakfast. Then went to the post pffice on the main street. Had a package ready of myCD-R photo disks and ATM statements. Had to bring them down stairs to get checked over by official and sealed. Cost was 35 B for registered post. I went on the net for an hour in a net cafe (3 B an hour) on San Pedro square. As promised I went into San Pedro prison at 11.00am. Bad timing. The coffin of the inmate who was killed (see earlier post) was in the courtyard. There is a big sign outside the prison door saying “NO TOURISTS” but I told the guard I was here to see my cousin “George Redcloud”. Pretty much disbelief on his face but he let me in. I told one of the prisoners to get George and I signed in using my passport. I met George at the mesh visitors area (and paid the messenger 2 B). I spoke to George for about 20 minutes as he was waiting for my Ok to go in. He spoke about his life there (5 years in out of a 8 years sentence) and his hope that he would be out before the end of the year because of good behavior. By this time relatives of the deceased had arrived and things were getting emotional. The coffin was brought out to the street but had to be brought back in again for a minutes silence. George said today was not a good day to visit and gave me the number of the prison. He said to ring back Wednesday to organize a visit Thursday.

I have decidded how to tell you to get into san Pedro Jail.

HOW TO GET INTO SAN PEDRO JAIL

They have goten strict in the last year and when I was waiting to get in, many tourists etc were turned away especially if they are a mixed groups of 3 or over (or mentioned the word TOUR). There is a big sign outside the gate saying NO TOURISTS. The best way is to ring the Public phone in the prison (i got this from a prisoner) 2324033.

In Spanish, ask the prisoner who answers for someone who speaks English or you can ask for Canadian George Redcloud. They are about 6 English speaking prisoners there (a German, a South African). They all do tours for money (helps pay the lawyers, bribes etc). Anyway who ever you get (it does not really matter) will put the paper work through.

Thurs and Sunday are visiting days but if the papework is good, you can go any morning (arrange a time with the prisoner). Never mention the word “tour” to anyone. This is a prison and you will enter as a sister, brother etc. I spent about 6 hours inside. They have a canteen etc. Dont bring valaubles etc.

Ask the prisoner how much you should bring. 50-80 Bolivars for the prisoner and maybe 15 for lunch. So its an experence, they are some bad people in there so mind yourslf. To summarise there are NO tours of the prison, It has to be done independently. You can go with one other person. Have about 3 B to pay a prisoner to go get your Sister/brother. Ask the English speaking guy whether he needs anything. Sometimes they may ask for pens or paper or a English Newspaper

.

When I went outside I saw 5 girls sitting opposite the prison. I decided to let them know the story, and was surprised to find that they were all Irish (from Leitrim). Three sisters and two friends. They had worked in Australia for 5 months and were going to Rio. Hmm, I though it would be tought travelling together, but they seemed ready for the trials and tribulation of South American travel. There was no chance of them getting into the prison so they decided to go to the Coca Museum. As I had been there the day before (and enjoyed it), and I was heading to the Black Market, I showed them the way. They were going to the jungle the next day, and said to call in for breakfast if they had a chance.

I love visiting the Black Market. Did it again after the prison visit. From the central boulevard Plaza de Los Heroes upwards almost until El Alto there are literally hundreds of thousands of stalls. I saw on another website the following.

“A good illustration of the sheer number of sidewalk stalls is a recent protest by the stall owners that stopped all traffic on the central boulevard for several hours. It was estimated that 100,000 stall owners came out to state that they have difficulty earning a living wage – it was also estimated that not even half of the stall owners participated in the protest”.

The stalls tend to be loosely geographically organized by items sold. Remember the barber shops. This type of geographic concentration is fully to the advantage of the buyer since cost comparisons can be made and it is easy to move from one seller to another when the price is not right. You can buy everything here.

The Witches’ Market of La Paz is just off the black market. Some things you can find there include

– Llama fetus (dried): To protect the house. An estimated 99% of Bolivian families have a dried llama fetus thrown under the foundations of their house for luck.

– Llama fetus (burnt on a plate of sweets and herbs): To ensure luck for a new business venture.

– Dried frogs: For money. If you stick a cigarette in your frog’s mouth, your chances of striking it rich will increase.

– Bolivian armadillos: Kind of like a Chubb alarm. Stick one above the entrance to your house, and it will prevent thieves from entering

– Amulette d’amor (ceramic couple embracing): To get yourself hitched.

– Naked ceramic couples: To improve the sex life, rectify impotency, and increase fertility

After the black market (3.00pm) I went to see Gangs of New York. I was a bit disappointed. It wasn’t as compelling a story or film as I had thought. The cinema is beside the cemetery. the cost for a double bill (I did not wait for the Disney flick) was 10 B.

After the film, I walked to the University area (plaza del estudiante). This is a middle to upper class residential area. The people walking around here would not be out of place in New York, Dublin or Paris. Suits, well dressed youths, blond girls. You would never know you were in La Paz. Pizza joints, hot dogs and cafes. Nice area with lots of internet cafes. No poor people or people in traditional clothes to be seen.

I got back at round 8.00pm. Spoke to Rob about his day. Guy from reception comes up saying. “Guy from room 61, I need your passport NOW”. Wondering what the feck.. but hes having a joke. Two of the Irish girls are in reception and are wondering would I like to join them for dinner. Rob and I met them all including 4 french (well one French Canadian) lads. Had a terrible chicken and chips (only thing on the menu) and he all headed to the Pub. Had a great laugh and stayed there until about 4.00am. Rob, I, one of the girls from Leitrim and a Kiwi we met went to another bar and stayed until 7.00am. Note – she was catching a 22 hour bus journey at 11.00. Ouch. Walked back to the hostel and stayed in bed until noon.











La Paz – Bolivia

Taken on the 5th of May 2003

La Paz – Bolivia – The Black Market mistrels

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Tuesday the 6th of May 2003 – Day 77

Stayed in bed as long as possible (noon) but alot of street noise. I had a shower and went walking. I had an early lunch and simply enjoyed the afternoon walking about. I really like this city. I got the wrong impression when I arrived on the Saturday night. Central and Zona Sur are quite on Weekend night. Come M Monday, everything had changed. The streets were full and buzzing from Morning to sunset. Stalls filled every street. There are armies of shoe shine boys who are at every corner (1 B for a great shine). They are always busy but most wear balavlavas. I don’t know whether this has to do with car pollution or if they do not want to be recognized by there peers. Anyway, its always a bit disconcerting, but they are always busy. There are also an army of youth wearing florescent jackets with mobiles chained to themselves, offering air time or phone time to passer boys. With no public bus service, its left up to an army of mini and micro vans to get people to where they want to go. There are thousands of these vehicles zooming around with their destination plastered on their wind shields. They run fixed routes. Their is always a lad shouting out the window the destinations and prices. I spent the day watching the going on at the San Francisco plaza. The square around 5.00pm is full of charlatans selling magical portions to improve body and soul. They are usually dozens of men surrounding these guys. I spent quite a while at the square and surrounding stands. The street food is fantastic. All sorts of breads and pasties with delicious fillings like hot cheese, chicken and beef. Lovely cakes and donuts (all home made). All between 1b and 1.50B.

At 7.00pm I went to the cinema on the main street to see X-Men 2. The cost was 22 B and I also sway the matrix trailer. Looks good and I am looking forward to seeing it. The movie itself was OK. It only started at 8.00 after all the commercials and trailers. You can actually pick what seat you want when buying the ticket. The film was technically good, and must be great for those who were into the comic. It had some great moments and I cant fault it, but I won{t see it again. Read a review here (positive review) and here (negative review).

Because of the very late night last night, I went to bed pretty early with a bottle of gypsy cola (5 b for a 2 litre). God, I love this bolivian Cola. There must be real Coca in it. Im addicted!!











La Paz – Bolivia

Taken on the 6th of May 2003

La Paz – Bolivia – – A man selling phone time to a passer by. These guys are everywhere. Why have a public phone service wen you have moving phones following you pestering you to make a call.

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La Paz – Bolivia

Taken on the 6th of May 2003

La Paz – Bolivia – One man selling an idea of health. They are everywhere, selling potions etc.

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La Paz – Bolivia

Taken on the 6th of May 2003

La Paz – Bolivia – Chewing the cod

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La Paz – Bolivia

Taken on the 6th of May 2003

La Paz – Bolivia – Shoe Shinners. There are thousands of these guys on the streets of La Paz. They all wear Balaclavas. You never see their faces. Still, they are always kept busy. I ahve used them myself.

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Sunday the 4th of May 2003 – Day 75

Sunday the 4th of May 2003 – Day 75

As most agencies were closed (Sunday) I decided to visit San Pedro Jail. Sunday and Thursday are visitor days.

See the following two great articles on the San Pedro prison. One is quite old and one is quite new .

I had convinced myself that it would be quite safe… Its in the Lonely Planet and Hector from the TG4 Travel was there. Otherwise, surely tourists would not go. This prison is unique of its kind: there are no bars or even cells… the prisoners walk freely amongst the tourists… the thieves, the rapists, and the murderers.

I got breakfast at the market at 8.30am. two pasties with cheese hot) and excellent only 1.50 B. I got to the prison at 9.00am. Sunday and Thursday are visitor days. No cameras allowed (and would you want to). When I arrived at the entrance, I was surprised. all the wife’s and loved ones were waiting with food to see their loved ones (1,500 inmates)., but not one tourist. I waited 10 minutes but no tourists. I said to hell to it and went to queue. The women says to skip the queue, which I did. My bags were searched and I walking to the entrance. Hundreds of prisoners were waiting at the main gate waiting for their visitors who are left straight in after getting their hand stamped. Alot of the prisoners started shouting at me. I didn’t know where to look. Not all of it was nice. Suddenly, some one day said “you speak English”. I said yes, and he said he would get George. The names of imates who speak Englisha nd give tours are reguarly on the net. All the time, the guards were there looking at me and the governor was there. I was moved around a bit (5-10 minutes) and George arrived. He said to stay cool and would check the situation. after a chat between the guards and George, he said the gringo tours had been called off. An inmate had been stabbed last night and had died four hours ago (5 am). He was a notorious and important prisoner and the governor of the prison was angry. he was expecting camera crews any minute. George asked me for my full name and said he would organize a meeting tomorrow (if I said I was his relative ) hmm, I gave him my name name and he gave me his details. He was a scary looking fecker. I gave the messenger guy 4 B. So, I am Georges relative and I am visting him tomorrow. Feck.

Throughout this, a multitude of people were crowding around the iron gates shouting, screaming, trying to catch the attention of relatives, trying to catch my attention.. Everything is available in San Pedro prison, if you have the money: guns, knives, alcohol, female and male prostitutes, and of course any type of drug you care for.

The prison is the cheapest place in La Paz to buy drugs (an ounce of cocaine goes for 20 Bolivians, less than $3) promoting a bustling trade among visiting locals.

Out into the open again. I was glad to leave but I promised to be back at 11.00am tomorrow morning.

I went back to the hostel to get my camera. Rob was still in bed so I went to the “museum de Coca“. It was 7B in and it was great. It went through the traditions of coca, processing, harvesting, magical properties and culture. Two quick facts. While Coca is produced here, the US (5 % of the worlds populations) consumes 55% of the worlds cocaine. Bolivia has no interest in this trade in either trafficking or consuming. Chemicals from US factors help create cocaine.

Secondly, Coca-cola introduced in 1886 as “a valuable brain-tonic and cure for all nervous afflictions”. Coca-cola was promoted as a temperance drink “offering the virtues of coca without the vices of alcohol”. The new beverage was invigorating and popular. Until 1903, a typical serving contained around 60mg of cocaine. Sold today, it still contains an extract of coca-leaves. The Coca-Cola Company imports 208 tons from South America each year. Nowadays the leaves are used only for flavouring since the drug has been removed.

Coca consumption was originally the prerogative of the Inca elite. Today, most of the natives indulge as well. Coca is also consumed as the highly esteemed coca de maté. Drinking coca-tea tends to soothe the stomach; so it’s good for digestive problems. Coca de maté is less likely to induce jitteriness than coffee. It is also rather more effective as a mood-brightener.It promotes clarity of mind and a positive mood. Traditionally, the leaves have been chewed for social, mystical, medicinal and religious purposes. Coca has even been used to provide a measure of time and distance. Native travellers sometimes described a journey in terms of the number of mouthfuls of coca typically chewed in making the trip. This was a “cocada” – the time or distance and man could walk before a coca pellet was exhausted. More information from here .

After that, I went to the black market for about two hours and had lunch. I then walked to the cemetry. There was all husle and bussle outside- people selling flowers, food – basically a massive market outide the gates. A hatchback turned up… the relatives were awiting amongst the candle floss sellers and the coffin appeared. Pretty surreal. Inside, it is very tranquil. It reminded me of the temples in Bangkok. Crazy outside in the streets, calmness inside. Anyway, beacuse of the bad ground, coffins are placed within structures (concrete). Hard to expalin. Buit instead of a gravestone you have a plaque and the coffin is behind it. A window (with a lock) covers this plaque and there is room to put flowers within this. Of all the thousands of plaques, I never saw one without flowers . simply incredible. The plaques could be one hundred across and 20 up (I Saw structures with 3 stories with balconies and stairs). I may change this text to more fully explain. The pictures may help. I then walked to a elevated area in the middle of the city bowl, where there is a park and children’s playground. Because it was Sunday, it was packed (1 b entrance). I left around 5.30pm and went back to base via San Pedro prison. Went to a net cafe for a few hours.











La Paz – Bolovia

Taken on the 4th of May 2003

La Paz – Bolovia – Plaza Pedro de Murillo. Centre of the old town whee the government sits. Lots of police about.

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La Paz – Bolovia

Taken on the 4th of May 2003

La Paz – Bolovia – American Coke Head at the Coca Museum. Basically the argument was while Coca is produced here, the US (5 % of the worlds populations) consumes 55% of the worlds cocaine. Bolivia has no interest in this trade in either trafficking or consuming. Chemicals from US factors help create cocaine. Why blame Bolivians?

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La Paz – Bolivia

Taken on the 4th of May 2003

La Paz – Bolivia – Cemetry. There is a coffin behind each plaque. You can not see them. Cos the ground is so hard here (high allitude), you gotta stack em high. Anyway, the graves are VERY well kept.

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La Paz – Bolivia

Taken on the 4th of May 2003

La Paz – Bolivia – Cemetry.

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La Paz – Bolivia

Taken on the 4th of May 2003

La Paz – Bolivia – Cemetry.

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La Paz – Bolivia

Taken on the 4th of May 2003

La Paz – Bolivia – Cemetry. People use ladders to see their relatives plaque and add flowers. People on ladders everwhere. Families plaques seemed grouped together.

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La Paz – Bolivia

Taken on the 4th of May 2003

La Paz – Bolivia – Overlooking part of the city. The city is situated in a chasm below a plateau at an altitude of 3600m alongside the La Paz river. Therefore houses are built upwards up the inside of the bowl.

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La Paz – Bolivia

Taken on the 4th of May 2003

La Paz – Bolivia – Overlooking part of the city.

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Saturday the 3rd of May 2003 – Day 74

Saturday the 3rd of May 2003 – Day 74

The bus journey was not fun. I was sitting with Rob Cotter, (we had met up again). I took the advice of the driver and started chewing that coca leaf and ash. That’s because everyone but the 5 to 6 gringos had brought blankets on board. Temperatures dropped to -5 oc (guess). The windows were too cold to touch. We stopped 3 to 4 times (including Potosi which I had left days earlier). There were no toilets at the stops. They were just coca leaf and booze stops. There were no toilets on the bus (normal) and in this cold, there was no need. At the stops, people disappeared into the darkness for a few minutes. They sell a booze here called “Cedio” which is 95 per cent. Dangerous stuff, mostly drank by miners which are a powerful lobby group in Bolivia. I was tempted to buy a bottle a few times, but you would be drunk with two sips. The coca leafs helped as they tend to take away stress, feelings of cold (most important on this journey) hunger and anxiety. We travelled between 3,000m and 5,000m (the reason it was so cold).

Anyway we awoke as we passed the city of “El Alto”. It is a city of 800,000 people. The overwhelming majority of them work in La Paz, which has led to the nickname “sleeping city” that El Alto has acquired. Lonely Planet describes it as such.

Once merely a La Paz suburb, El Alto has now burgeoned into a separate entity where unkempt children play in expanding potholes; Indian women pound laundry in a sewage-choked stream; streets are lined with sparsely- stocked market stalls; and every second-hand business appears to be an auto repair shop or a scrap-yard”(Lonely Planet)

El Alto was previously a shantytown suburb, comprised of many closely-packed barrios, but now it has spread towards the city, as the In Situ Accretion Zone has expanded out, connecting the two urban areas into one great city. El Alto was constituted in 1986 as a part of the La Paz urban region.

I was really exciting as we saw La Paz as sun rise broke. La Paz, the highest capital city in the world (3,800m), looks like a moon crater. The city is 4km (2miles) above sea level, situated on a canyon floor which shows only a hint of greenery. Even oxygen is at a premium. Anyway it was stunning to to see this city in a bowl, with buildings climbing up all sides.

We landed and took a taxi to the hostel Torino. Rob was delayed because he lost his baggage ticket. We got two single rooms with shared bath for 25 b (3 EURO) each. Nice place with adjoining cafe. We quickly dropped the bags and started walking. We went to all three tourist offices, but were closed.

We saw the Iglesia de San Francisco (construction began in 1549) with its arresting blend of mestizo and Spanish styles. Behind the church is the Witches’ Market where you can buy a bizarre assortment of goods including amulets, potions, delicately crafted silver jewelry, sweets and dried llama fetuses. We went to three markets included the “Black Market”. If you put all the shops in Ireland together, you would not get all the shops and stall that are here. Simply dozens of acres of shops selling everything. they seem to group together i.e. electronics, household, sports clothes. I saw 25 barbers shops in a row. I a moment of madness, I got by first haircut in seven years (I usually cut my own). He spent 20 minutes on me (it was just a number one shave), but they are perfectionists. they can spend up to an hour on each guy. Hair is important to them,a and all the styles were up on the wall. he also gave me an old fashioned shave. All for 5 B (.60 cent).

Had a nice dinner in the market place for 5 B (chicken and chips is very popular here – staple diet), and you can get fixed 3/4 course meals for 4-6 B. A bottle of beer is about 6 B. I was tired and headed back around 7.00pm.

I had given my battery charger to reception that morning but when I got in it was gone. I became paranoid and thought I had experienced my first negative South American experience. I even asked to look in there office, which they allowed. They said I should wait until the guy I gave it to (Roberto) came back at 10.00pm, but I was annoyed. Anyway, I headed down to “20 de October” street for a few drinks and came back at 12.00. Roberto was there and had the recharger. I felt a bit embarrassed to have doubted the staff and in extension the honesty of the people here. I should not have jumped to conclusions. He had put the recharger away when his shift had ended.

I found out two things about the women who wear traditional dress. They arrived because 200 years ago thee was an attempt by the women of Bolivia to copy the European fashions at the time. therefore the skirts and hats. Secondly, women who wear bowler hats – if they are single it is worn on the side and on top if they’re married.











La Paz- Bolivia

Taken on the 3rd of May 2003

La Paz – Bolovia – Iglesia de San Francisco. La Paz is the administrative capital of Bolivia, as well as the departmental capital of La Paz Department. Is located aproximately at 3600 meters above sea level

Founded in 1548 by Alonso de Mendoza at the site of the Native American settlement called Chuquiago, the full name of the city was originally Nuestra Señora de La Paz (meaning Our Lady of Peace). The name commemorated the restoration of peace following the insurrection of Gonzalo Pizarro and fellow conquistadors two years earlier against Blasco Núñez Vela, the first viceroy of Peru. In 1825, after the decisive victory of the republicans at Ayacucho over the Spanish army in the course of the South American Wars of Independence, the city’s full name was changed to La Paz de Ayacucho (meaning The Peace of Ayacucho).

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











La Paz- Bolivia

Taken on the 3rd of May 2003

La Paz – Bolovia – One man and his Dog.

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La Paz – Bolivia

Taken on the 3rd of May 2003

La Paz – Bolovia – The Black Market. In 1898, La Paz was made the de facto seat of the national government, with Sucre remaining the nominal capital only. This change reflected the shift of the Bolivian economy away from the largely exhausted silver mines of Potosí to the exploitation of tin near Oruro, and resulting shifts in the distribution of economic and political power among various national elites.

The city is situated in a chasm below a plateau at an altitude of 3600m alongside the La Paz river. On the plateau is the city of El Alto; the international airport is also located there.

As of the 2001 census, the city of La Paz had a population of about one million.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Tuesday the 29th of April 2003 – Day 70 to Friday the 2nd of May 2003 – Day 73

Tuesday the 29th of April 2003 – Day 70

Very little done today due to late night. My thighs were very sore from all the crouching in the mines. Same with the others. I spent a while trying to find a internet cafe with a CR rewriter, which proved difficult as many do not even have CDs. Anyway I found one and download over 700 photos onto CD. Internet access is cheap (3 B or 0.36 EURO an hour). I met rich for lunch. It was a fixed menu 4 course meal for 10 B. Then went to the mint museum. Entry was 20B including and English Guide. Spent about 2 hours there. We had a beer, and rich took the bus to la Paz. Beth, Dominic and I went to dinner and had an early night. It is difficult been at this height. Walking really takes it out out you, and you are tired by 11.00pm. See my earlier post on altitude sickness and its effects.











Potosi – Bolivia

Taken on the 29th of April 2003

Potosi- Bolovia – Mint Museum – a Mummie. Not just a mummy but a child one produced by the soil conditions here. The department of Potosí is in the southwest of the country. It comprises 37,623 sq. km with 709,013 inhabitants (2001 census). It is mostly a barren, mountainous region with one large plateau to the west. It is also home of Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt flat in the world. The capital is the city of Potosí. The department is divided in 16 provinces.

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Potosi – Bolivia

Taken on the 29th of April 2003

Potosi- Bolovia – Mint Museum – a skull.

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Wednesday the 30th of April 2003 – Day 71

Dominic was heading back to Cordoba at 10.00am. Myself and Beth did a little bit of sightseeing. Decided to miss the stuffy bus service to Sucre at 7.00am and 1.00pm and get a shared taxi. Went to the bus station where there were about five touts offering rides to Sucre. As the prices were small and we did not haggle as we should. took a shared car with two locals for 25 B (3 EURO) each. It was a very scenic 2 hour journey. The driver was going very fast though and rarely stayed on his side of the road. The object is to get to the destination ASAP.

We arrived at 3.00pm. Looks like a nice town. Has a large university population. Sucre has about 200,000 inhabitants and is located an an altitude of 2,790m above sea level. More information can be found here . We booked into the La plata hostel for 20 B (2.40 EURO) per person. Walked around town to find a tourist office which proved difficult as many people were leaving work early. Tomorrow is May 1st (Labor Day) which is a national holiday. Spend a few hours updating the web site blog (2.50 B an hour – pennies) and went for dinner in a local restaurant. Had chicken and chips for 6 B each (.72 EURO) in a nice restaurant. It is SO cheap here. Did very little in the evening. Went to the markets area, which sells anything and everything.

Thursday the 1st of May 2003 – Day 72

Its May 1st.. Labor Day so much of the city is closed down and protests and demonstrations abound. The city is quiet. No buzz like Salta and Potosi. Got up at 9.00am and had a yerba Matte. With 2 German girls I had met earlier (Rachela and urika) we got a taxi to the bus station to check out tickets. There are no buses leaving the city today, so I booked the 5.30pm bus ticket (sleeper) to Laz Paz for 70 B. It will take over 14 hours. Along with Urika and Beth, we got a taxi to the cemetery and walking up the Mountain overlooking the town. The stations of the cross are on the way up the mountain. We then walked back (25 minutes) and had lunch.

The city of La Plata was founded by Pedro de Anzures, Marqués de Campo Redondo, on November 30th, 1538. On 1609, the city received an archbishopric, and granted it theological autonomy. That, along with the establishment of the University of San Xavier in 1624. During the 17th century, La Plata served as a legal, religious, and cultural center of the Spanish eastern territories. The first cry of Independence in the Americas took place in the city of La Plata May 25th, 1809. On August 6th, 1825 independence was declared and a new republic was born under the name Bolivia after its liberator Sim?n Bolivar. On August 11th, the name of the city of La Plata was changed to Sucre in honor of Mariscal Antonio José de Sucre, who along with Bolivar, fought for independence from the Spanish rule.

Anyway, sorry for the history lesson. After walking aeound, we walked to the cemetry, but was closed due to it been a National Holiday. Instead we walked to Bolivar Park which was nice. Great weather here at the moment. Went back on the net for an hour and met Beth, Urika and a Canadian for dinner and a few drinks. nice place beside the market. Chinnese owned, we had a massive plate of rice, chicken and noodles for 5.50 CP. Restaurant was also showing Jet Li “hong Kong” martial arts movies. Think it was “The Twin”. Fantastic stuff. Was in bed by 11.00!!!











Sucre

Taken on the 1st of May 2003

Sucre – Bolovia – Overlooking the town. Sucre (population 190,000) is the constitutional capital of Bolivia, located in the south central part of the country. Historically it has also been known as Charcas, La Plata or Chuquisaca.

In the 18th century the area of modern-day Bolivia was known as La Plata for its wealth (Plata meaning silver or wealth in general). After this the Rio de la Plata is named because there were the port facilities.

Too remote after the economic decline of Potosí it was given up as administrative capital for La Paz. It is now named for revolutionary leader Antonio José de Sucre.

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Sucre

Taken on the 1st of May 2003

Sucre – Bolovia – Overlooking the town. Chuquisaca is a department of Bolivia. Population (2001 census) 531,522. It borders Cochabamba, Tarija, Potosí, and Santa Cruz. The deparmental capital is Sucre, also the constitutional capitla of Bolivia.

The department is divided in 10 provinces.

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Sucre

Taken on the 1st of May 2003

Sucre – Bolovia – Praying at a site overlooking the city. 90% Catholic, 10% Indian.

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Sucre

Taken on the 1st of May 2003

Sucre – Bolovia.

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Sucre

Taken on the 1st of May 2003

Sucre – Bolovia. The site where people were praying above. It overlookes the town. Lots of Dogs. Stations of the cross leading up the hill to the site. Some old women selling wood to burn for offerings.

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Friday the 2nd of May 2003 – Day 73

Got up early as usual. Bus this evening at 5.30pm, so decided to do very little today. Packed up my bags and left my rucksack in the office. Thankfully, Beth is going back to Potosi. Couldnt stand her. The hostel was fine and the staff pleasant. Went to the Market which was nice – seeing people buying and selling. There is only 1 empty supermarket in town. People do there business on the street. Changing my mind a bit about Sucre, its not Salta but its a living city. People are going about their business as one should. With the poverty level in Bolovia, can you blame them. Bus left promptly. 14 hours to la Paz. The 2 german girls are also going to La Paz.











Sucre

Taken on the 2nd of May 2003

Sucre – Bolovia – the Market. So much fresh produce. Its incredible. i purchased some local fruit which was good. No idea of the name. Very colorful place.

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Sucre

Taken on the 2nd of May 2003

Sucre – Bolovia – the Market.

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Monday the 28th of April 2003 – Day 69

Monday the 28th of April 2003 – Day 69

More information on the town can be got here which is excellent infomation. Basically the town has a population of 121,000. It is a well preserved Spanish colonial city and the highest in the world (altitude 4090 metres), now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hard work walking around at this height.

We got up at 8.00am to get breakfast at the cafe over the Koala tours office. Apple pie was 5 B for a massive portion. Rich and Beth were also doing the tour. The group of 15 were shepared onto a bus. We were brought to a depot to change into the miners gear. Waterproof (and dirt proof) top and pants, wellingtons and hard hat with battery operated head lamp. We then went to the miners market. At the market you have the opportunity to buy presents for the miners (on good days they may earn 20 B). A stick of dynamite, detonator and 2 metres of fuse cost only 16 B. Also welcome are cigarettes, Inca Cola drink, and the essential big bag of coca leaves. For 20 B expenditure you can make several miners very happy. It is through this method, they do not mind gringoes coming down to the mines and taking photographs.











Potosi- Bolovia – Mining Tour

Taken on the 28th of April 2003

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Potosi- Bolovia – Mining Tour

Taken on the 28th of April 2003

Potosi- Bolovia – Mining Tour. The kid with the green jersey facing the camera is 15 and has been working in the mines for a year. He may live another 20 years because of the fine dust and chemical exposure.

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Potosi- Bolovia – Mining Tour

Taken on the 28th of April 2003

Potosi- Bolovia – Mining Tour. Feeling the pressure. We were 3 levels down. We got there by crawling and struggling in the dark in small tunnels with just wooden supports. They were big holes and unprotected shafts everywhere. There were no stairs, lights or elevators. Ventilation was bad. We had to crawl down to the levels (we went to the third) on our hands and feet. The tunnels were no larger than 4.5 feet in height. Therefore, I was only able to actually fully stand 2 or 3 times during the tour. This is extreme reality tourism, as 6000 miners still work the 120 mines here looking for ore (silver, zinc, lead). Practices are very primitive with just dynamite, shovels and pick axes used. Temperatures can reach (and it felt like it) 35 Oc down here.

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Potosi- Bolovia – Mining Tour

Taken on the 28th of April 2003

Potosi- Bolovia – Mining Tour. The kid with the green jersey facing the camera is 15 and has been working in the mines for a year. He may live another 20 years because of the fine dust and chemical exposure.

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Potosi- Bolovia – Mining Tour

Taken on the 28th of April 2003

Potosi- Bolovia – Mining Tour. Hard guys.

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Potosi- Bolovia – Mining Tour

Taken on the 28th of April 2003

Potosi- Bolovia – Mining Tour. The guides fixed up to dynamite packs with booster (ammonia nitrate) and a 40 second fuse. It was some bang.

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Potosi- Bolovia – Mining Tour

Taken on the 28th of April 2003

Potosi- Bolovia – Mining Tour. Holding the explosive device.

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It was hard work. I would not recommend the tour for anyone who does not like extreme humid conditions, darkness, or confined spaces. There was no safety provisions in the mine and you crawl past numerous holes. Our guide who worked in the mines for 10 years (he started when he was 13) was excellent. I felt for the men (and boys) who work here. After the tour, we went for a few beers, had a meal, a shower and went out to see the towns nightlife. It was pretty dead, which was expected due to the fact it was a Monday night. Even so, the beer at this altitude effects you a lot more, and gets you drunk faster. Therefore, we were in bed by 12.00 midnight.