April 16, 2008

Second Week in Bolivia

MABB © ®
This is the second week I am spending in La Paz, Bolivia. Since I found a bit of time to write on my blog, I will share some reflections.

First of all, I did not yet resolve my computer troubles. The issue of pressure affecting my hard drive, has not been cleared up. Some computer technicians insist it is true, some others laugh and dismiss it. I am perplexed though, because I carried my pc all over Chicago and nothing, but the first time I turned it on, it did not function. I don´t know what to think, but I won´t dismiss the claim just yet.

The process of adaptation to the altitude is, I think, nearing an end. The Coca tea (mate de coca) is really helping. I have not taken any of the medicine it was recommended to me, just Coca tea. My head is not hurting as much as it was the first days, but it is still hurting. I am attributing it to the smog the cars release. I see this as a real problem in La Paz. One cannot walk on the streets, during peak hours, without inhaling dirty air. Plainly said, it stinks!

I can walk a bit faster, but I still have to be careful. Specially when I am conducting interviews. Some times I ran out of air and have to stop speaking. It is somewhat problematic, but people understand. It is a funny feeling, to go up 10 to 20 stairs and be really out of air at the top. I assume this will disappear the longer I stay in La Paz.

Now on to the city. As I said before, the city has changed a lot. Some times, I cannot find my way and I have to pull out my map. Entire streets are gone and others are there where there were none before. Some of the neighborhoods I used to frequent are giant malls. The city is vibrating with commerce. One thing that shocked me was that the city seems to have deconcentrated. Before, there was only one center, El Prado. Most paceños had to go to the center to do shopping. Specially when it had to do with clothing, electronics, etc. Now, each area within the city has its own center. The southern neighborhoods are a micro city on their own. One can find, at times, better things than in the center.

Also, it must be that I am living outside La Paz for so long, but I find the people a bit too serious, and unfriendly at times. Paceños seem to be taking life too seriously. It hits me when I go to some stores and I want to consume something. I am expecting a welcoming smile, when I get instead a serious face and no answer at all. It might also have to do with the tourist phenomenon. I don´t know. That is my first impression though.

Alright, I have to stop here because I am at a hotel computer. Other people are looking at me funny already. Next time I have to comment on the political situation and the interesting conversations I have been having with paceños.