An Interesting Morning

Howdy all,

This morning I woke up to gunfire . . . or so I thought. At first I thought that perhaps it was weapons training day at the police station across the road, but the shots had a disturbing lack of regularity.

I stepped out of our hostel into the street, and was shocked to see the streets literally packed with thousands of people. Ah . . . not gunfire, but firecrackers, evidently a vital part of any Bolivian street protest.

I left for the market area with two Australian girls, and as we walked, we talked about the fact that our guidebooks issued very stern warnings about political protests here in Bolivia. Unfortunately, the streets were jam-packed with thousands of protesters, so we had no choice.

The atmosphere was reminiscent of the soccer match. Lots of people, high energy, more than a little apprehensive of trouble. No pictures of this event will be forthcoming, I’m afraid — people are actually quite anti-picture down here (unless you pay).

This was all at about 11:00 this morn. Several hours later, walking home from my Spanish lessons (a word to the wise: Spanish is from Spain. People in Latin America speak Castellano), the march was still going strong. In fact, just writing this sentence several more firecrackers have been discharged. These aren’t the little guys you get in Canada, they honestly sound like a shotgun going off. Bolivians love them — during the soccer match they were set off every goal, but with a minimum of safety precautions: one went off only about 7 or 8 feet from a player’s head, and he went stumbling off clutching his head, obviously stunned and half deafened.

About my Castellano classes: they’re great, and my teacher is even better. Not only does she improve my Castellano, but she is like a cultural interpreter as well. We’ve had a few discussions about Evo, and she informed me about the marches today (Bolivian Labour Union wants more — who doesn’t?).

However, she has given me an awesome opportunity. Her family (mother, father, and three grown sons) live about 45 minutes from the eastern city of Santa Cruz, in a very poor (but very safe, she was quick to assure me) section of town. Her family loves visitors, and when I get around to Santa Cruz all I have to do is phone her and she will arrange for me to stay with her family!!! How cool is that? This is an amazing opportunity for me to go actually live with a Bolivian family for a while, and escape the gringo trail. I can’t wait.

As for now, however, I plan on staying in La Paz until Sunday, as there is a festival on Thursday and the weekend nightlife here is great. Then it’s off to Oruro, where during the beginning of February there is a huge carnival. My guidebook describes it as “an excellent opportunity to get extremely drunk with the locals on the street,” and supposedly everyone is armed to the teeth with water balloons, so total saturation is inevitable. Of course, I myself will be well-armed as well.

Anyways, I’m tired of writing. I’ve been under the weather for the last few days, and sleeping a surprising amount. Maybe it’s the street food. Honestly, I’ve eaten more fried chicken in the last week than I have in my entire life.

Hope everyone is doing okay in your various endeavors!!!

‘K Bye.

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~ by turvyc on January 22, 2008.

One Response to “An Interesting Morning”

  1. Cough. Im from spain, we do NOT speak spanish, WE speak CASTELLANO, people in latin america speak Latino, it even says so in our constitution, ” the language of the state shall be known as castellano. so dude, we speak castellano.

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