June 14, 2005

Tales of a Tourist in Crisis-ridden Bolivia

MABB © ®
Nick, over at Open Veins, has the most amusing story from a tourist Brit friend who arrived in the middle of the worst protests affecting Bolivia. His desire to meet the Andes up close and personal brought him to the country to be witness of one of its worst times in history. Here is a quotation from his personal account, which is fully posted in Open Veins. Take a look.

Day 1:
Whilst landing at the airport in El Alto on Monday in the intense Bolivian sunshine, I knew that all was not right when I didn’t see a single car on the road. The upside was that, when leaving the terminal, I wasn’t mobbed by a horde of taxi drivers touting for business. The downside was when asking for a taxi we were told “he’s just left”.

Fortunately “he” returned a few minutes later and took us as far as he could, which was a few hundred metres up the road, to the meeting point of the daily marches. We had no choice but, rucksacks on back and suncream on face, to join the march, being thrust a Bolivian flag each (green stripe at the bottom, isn’t it?) and being shown our place.

Each march divided itself into four lines and on numerous occasions I stepped out of line and was strongly reprimanded. We soon made friends with those around, learning the slogans and being offered their daughters in marriage. My favourite slogan was “this is not a Sunday parade, it’s a protest march” to motivate the silent marching majority. I tried a “Viva Inglaterra” but was accused of confusing the issue.

After a couple of hours going steadily downhill, we arrived at the city centre and sloped off for cappucino and carrot cake, as true protesters always do. To celebrate Nick’s birthday we enqured about music in a local jazz bar, and were told “There’ll be music if there’s a president and social peace”

I am glad, at least some people, are still enjoying Bolivia.