Sunday, August 3, 2008

Update from Fred

Currently I´ve just been resting up in La Paz due to some bug or other, while the others have hi-tailed it off into Chile to do their version of Ru hunting minus a gun, whilst conveniently renewing their short lived Bolivian visas (us Brits can stay indefinitely).

When they arrived at the bus stop, Putra, the little town they were headed to, turned out to be a Pueblo (village) on the other side of a couple of ravines, with no bus terminal or bus booking system.

Now Hazel has the bug and, having survived the Ru hunt, will get a bus from Putra further into Chile, stay the night and then book a bus direct to La Paz. I suspect I will be doing some home cooking whenshe finally gets here. No doubt Chris and Andy will turn up at some stage.
Meanwhile I have had a lovely time visiting some very interesting museums and reading up on Bolivian history.
There is a referendum in a few days (dont ask me why), and so they have been having the usual political activity leading up to it - far more interesting than apathy and the leaders telling lies on telly as in England -
For instance today the miners (of minerals) have been in town in force and as I was sauntering up the hill from downtown they were parading down the main street in their thousands. As they came on their leaders were shouting slogans and then the rest shouted their replies. Every now and then one of them would fire a tripple banger into the air. It would sail up and then explode either in the air or on the street. The usual crowd on the pavement were often a bit cowed by the noise and uncertainty of it all. Occasionally an extra loud one would go off.
There isn´t much danger of things getting out of hand as there is a very large army and police presence in La Paz. Yeaterday I counted over thirty police lazing in a plaza in full uniform with rubber bullet guns and huge cartridges on their belts and large perspex riot shields. According to the locals its all normal. (Of course Bolivia is not noted for the longevity of its governments)
Apparently Bolivia relies on minerals for a good share of its income but does not help the miners with injuries or diseases (eg lung disease)
The Incas apparently had a social welfare scheme of sorts so things may not seem that good to the campesinos.

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