Dust to dust

April 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

It´is late in the evening local time and the air outside is still punctuated by loud explosions. They had started yesterday afternoon but I was too busy catching up on sleep to bother finding out what they were. Today, after almost 24 hours holed up in the hotel room to make up for those nights of insomnia and painful early flights, I discovered that I have come to La Paz amidst some big government protests against pay rises. This explains why the streets are filled with local police, though they just seemed to be hanging around not doing very much.

Seeing that I am alone and really can´t be fucked wandering around with a street map by myself without speaking a word of Spanish, I decided to treat myself and hire a private taxi for the day. For about $7 an hour, it was a no-brainer. The driver, Jose, spoke pretty good English, and became my very enthusiastic photographer, almost insisting that he take a photo of me in very place we stopped. At times I politely declined. He seemed pleased that he had a knack for composition, which meant I was smack right in the middle of every photo, also meaning that one can´t see too much of the background.

As the day rolled on, other than Bolivia´s breathtaking natural topography, much of the city is poor, polluted, and underdeveloped. Roads are rough, buildings unfinished, and I became convinced that the city thrives on some sort of ordered chaos. Traffic was not unlike Egypt, with no rhyme nor reason whatsoever, with people generally walking right in front of moving vehicles with no apparent regard for their own personal safety. Children seemed to have the same attitude. I was terrified.

For once, I got to sample some local cuisine, some chicharron, which is basically deep fried pork with loads of fat, black potatoes, and some kind of giant grain which I don´t remember the name of. It tasted alright, but I am yet to be impressed with South American food. Perhaps I am a little spoilt with Malaysian and Australian food. Tomorrow I go to Tiahuanacu, and ancient Inca site.

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