Giving to Bolivia
Trip Start Sep 23, 2008
18Trip End Aug 08, 2009
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I would have to say that I didn't spend as much here as I would have liked for a few reasons one of which being rain and second what the rain does to the roads and thirdly what the drivers often have in their drink bottles when driving on the road which the rain has rained on.
It is a country that has for many years struggled with what its diversity in terms of it's people, culture, resources does to the particular needs and wants of the people. A new president (Evo Morales), who sweep in with over 60% of the vote, has became the first indigenous President (a farkin big deal) and many of his supporters have quite obvious Obama expectations. Like Obama, this guy had more than just a election to win. But, unlike Obama he ain't got no law degree and I haven't many people that suggest this guy is blessed with the incredible brilliance of Mr Barrack but many that suggest a Bush for brains. This can be seen with his first move which was to nationalise the oil company 10 years after privatising it so you can imagine there are a few people (many foriegn Briazilian companies) a little upset. Evo gave them a few dollars and told them to fark off. He also told the American drug policy (to clean out the coca) to do the same and in fact increased to allowable coca production levels for "local consumption," obviously. You can start to sense what got this guy the 60% of the vote. Here is a great stat for ya...illegal narcotics is the third-biggest industry globally (after guns and oil) . There is only one way in which would see this change and that is America legalising drugs and that isn't going to happen so many Latin American countries have economies held up by this multi-billion dollar industry. Together with institutions of governments too weak and corrupt and with the market forces as they are...you do the maths.
But La Paz? Well as a city it is quite difficult to explain. Is it cool, edgy, interesting...,? If you were to design a city for Bolivia that had to represent a Bolivian style New York I guess La Paz would be it. It has the clubs, it has the bars, it has those naughty things - Burger King but where there is more than one of the burger servers named Charlie. But what is the biggest trip about the
place is not the extreme altitude this fair city has been built, not the even higher airport not the worlds most dangerous road no its the attitude to retribution and punishment of which we are not meant to talk about.
It was a place of running into a couple of amigos Mr Oscar, Ms Denny, and soon to be Mr and Mrs Campbell Hughes. All from the Land of the Long White (all met in the Land of the Long Dark Cloud) firstly when I was awoken by one asking "Have you goys seen some sunnies?" as I tried to catch a few zzzz in my dorm room, the other upstairs holding up the bar after holding out the whole night and day partying and the other two walking around the streets also up to now good. Where there are Kiwis they seem to find each other or maybe all just about to or just have caused trouble so are usually in the same vicinity.
We attempted and succeeded on jumping on a few mountain bikes and cycling the "world's most dangerous road".
the monkeys and lion cats at the bottom.
From the worlds most dangerous road to meeting a few of Bolivia's most dangerous people with Oscar in tow we found ourselves in the cell of the head of
Bolivia's only maximum security prison.
We are only beaten by the Yanks (no surprise there), Ruskies and the Saffa's. Although retribution plays a major role within the Maori culture other it is something that is non existent in our (NZ and UK) society.
I am not about to write a thesis on the pro and cons of all this but the time spent with these guys in their environment definitely gave me an opportunity to contemplate alternatives to our classic restorative justice system. With wives allowed in on Fridays and Saturdays, with animals kept, plants grown, furniture made and sold, and rooms decorated with paintings, aquariums, TV's, or whatever else floated the boat of cell dude, such provided a lot of mental exercise
for many of whom were spending serious time. Without the guards really
existing on the inside social infrastructure meant order by virtue of respect and understanding as opposed to intimidation and disassociation. It didn't seemed to be a an artificial environment that would institutionalize prisoners. We walked the cell blocks, chatted away, asked those many questions we all would obviously have and stood in the gym as these guys (who practice Brazilian Jiujitsu) dealt to the bag once or twice for us just to realise they were actually not in
their because their library books were not returned.
Once a prison where the murder of other inmates was common place and all that goes with that this was now a place of society be it behind bars. It was a place where through respect our "guide" had developed order. There must have been an element of fear I guess but it is hard to differentiate between ruling by fear and respect but like all social communities one will usually behave or respect societies rule book out of fear of being ostracized, fined, slapped, kicked or whatever. These guys obviously did not fear enough to stop them ending up inside but because of being inside realised the value of order and how it makes "their life" easier now. We walked the corridors with him and intimidation is an obvious emotion that is hard to hide if such is evident but there was mutual respect with all of the other inmates as we were greeted and the others were over owed but our presence and his. This guy had mana and that is something no matter who or what you have done is a enviable virtue. Obviously this was important for us as we strolled around the most dangerous of Bolvias criminal without any officers to jump in. Lucky Oscar has his puffy jacket and jandals on or else.... As an experience it is really hard to find words to describe it. Weird, strange, unforgettable, eye opening, incredible...Many things were discussed with these guys that won't find there ways onto a blog site but over a beer I will divulge.
Giving it to Sorata
But back in the hostel and after having my bags stolen from staff at restaurant
containing 5 months of a diary written I left the city with a foul taste in my mouth to Sorata and meet heaps of kids and there Mums who don't even have the money to afford a diary let alone understand the concept of keeping (or loosing) one. One hundred EUROS per year keeps one of these kids at school for the whole year and that pays for everything. Pen, pencils, paper, uniform, school fees and maybe the odd lollie pop. The school without much at all not even bike sheds so not sure where that went to pash at lunch time. Most of the kids are full of worms as the water supply just doesn't cut it and if they get sick well little of no
chance Mum and Dada have any money to go to La Paz let alone know what
to do when they got there or trust some guys in a white coat. So a
medical fund was established and the 100 EURO school sponsorship thing
set up and distributed by a lady by the name of Piedra (from Germany)
and they get it all. There ain't no admin fee here my people. But the only cash
is that which she can find from her friends and others that stay in her
Hostal. One little boy has developed seizures which they think is
epilepsy and that could be controlled by drugs (as with many epileptics)
or even completely cured if (as what they believe) his seizures are
being caused by a worm that is in the pig meat and lettuce. As an
epileptic myself if I knew I could wake up one morning and told I no
longer had this thing, if only I could find some money, well my life
would change considerably. Mine is an unrealistic dream but for this
kid just a dream that we are going to make it happen.
So on the weekend of the 1st /2nd May both Fri and Saturday you are going to sacrifice something either by giving it up of or if you can't do that you are
going to pay twice the price for it.
So if you go out on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and you would usually indulge in
a few beers, a bottle of wine, a pizza or something a little more naughtier you have two choices. YOU DON'T and you take that money that you were to spend for your 3-4 beers or if you are a big boozer your 12, your bottle of wine or champers, your pizza or other and you give it to this little boy. Or perhaps maybe if it is 100E your giving you will send someone to school and they will right you some letters and thank you for it and you will maybe even want to get a photo of them or
update from them on how well they are doing in maths now they have a
book to write in.
If you have some big party that you just can't not drink at fine, but it will be a little more expensive that you had originally anticipated. When you walk up to the
bar and order a Tom Collins, a Martini or an ale...you are going to say 5 pounds for the drink and 5 for those dudes that would think Tom Collins and a Martini are a couple of gringo tourists eating lunch at that restaurant in the plaza mayor.
For those of you who are not going out and eating a home cooked meal...Well if you have baby (cause surely that is the only reason why you would be) and you are going shopping to get your little one a pair of those really cute size 6mth old converse trainers or a 9mth old "Metallica Rocks" t-shirt...bin the idea as kids don't care what they wear but maybe that 40 pounds will make it possible for the lady from Sorata to have a scan or to maybe immunise her baby.
So everyone on this blog email. That's 98 of ya. Lets see what we can do. The economy is tough and all that yeah sure. But hey for just one weekend, don't have
a couple of beers/wine pizza...I am not asking for much aye. Remember
the 40 hour famine? Well go buy yourself some barley sugars and do what you have to do.
You can check out this website (www.prosorata.org which gives a few more details about it all and legitimises it just in case you thought it was for my meat and vino fund.
So we I have dragged in a couple of coordinators. Liv Broadley spent 3-4 months out here working in a school and she knows exactly what I talking about, Luke Futter (who has also been there) and Simone Denny who together have about 12,0064 friends on facebook and he is going to pester most of you and David Bietrix who covers all the immigrated UK South Africans. They are my secret police keeping an eye out. So if you get more than one email that's just an extra reminder.
In NZ Phillipa Rennie will be giving it the big ups with her extended address book Greg Mason ensuring all the multi-taskers (parents) don't try and opt out and Brooke Bone will be keeping it real with his united nations of facebook supports and airport acquaintances.
So we are going to put the coin into my paypal account so we collate it all and draw up a fat cheque bigger than a pie eaters ass. I will send you all an email which allows you to put it there it is so easy. Details to follow.
Lets see what we can do. I am not asking for hundreds and hundreds of pounds each (although this would be nice) but just play my game. I would like to think I can send and big check and have a photo of the whole school standing behind it knowing that behind them is a bunch of people out there that cares. For those that you that want to sponsor a kid (even between a few of you) for 100E you can do that too.
P.S I went riding for 3 days with just me my horse and an annoying french girl but after all the above who cares aye.