Tuesday, June 01, 2010
(originally posted 5/22 on my facebook)
So I arrived in La Paz and ate Salteñas the first day. Met a grand nephew for the first time and generally relaxed. The next day we went downtown and bought our ailine tix from Cochabamba to Santa Cruz. We also checked out a contemporary art museum and I paid extra so I could take photos. Look forward to seeing some very nice Bolivian artwork when I get back. I walked down to the University Mayor de San Andes where the have put up some wonderful murals in the underpass in front of the U. I was surprised to see that the main building itself was clean of any murals. This University was closed for years at a time by past military dictatorships and many activists students were tortured and murdered during those years. It is still a center of activism but thankfully the students now voice their opinions openly. Tuition is FREE by the way.
So Thursday (I believe) we took the bus from La Paz to Cochabamba. It´s an 8-9-10-12 hour ride. We made it in about 9 1/2. At the lunch stop a young man came up and asked if I was Canadian (I had a roots hoody on). He and a friend were Israeli and had just gotten out of the military. I have come across many Israelis who, once the get out of the military, get the hell out of Israel and travel for a year. That´s gotta be a stress filled gig. They were headed to La Paz so I gave him some tips on good places to see, eat, and where to stay.
In Cochabamba I met another grand nephew, kissed my sister-in-law, and niece and then immediately hopped into a taxi down to my brother-in-law´s shoe store where he was waiting for me to go to the soccer game. His team, Wilstermann, was playing "Bolivia´s team", The Strongest. Club Wilstermann is named for a famous Bolvian Aviator and The Strongest is named for what some rich club founder thought was a good name. "Wilster" won 2-1 in what was a great game. Lots of fouls, yellow cards, a red card, a broken leg. and referees escorted off the field by a SWAT team armed with riot shields all to the loving chants of "hijos de PUTAS" (sons of WHORES). And that´s what happens when the local team WINS.
Saturday morning we flew to Santa Cruz for another brother-in-law´s wedding. I have heard so many nice things about Santa Cruz but let me say this, I will never go back to that pile of shit city. There was garbage in the streets, we were denied service at 2 restaurants after we had ordered, and I felt more secure the time I walked through the red light district in Tijuana at night than I did walking down the street from our hotel to the soccer stadium at 4 in the afternoon. And we were in what is considered the nice area. The wedding was great, the food was awesome, but I was glad to get the hell outta there. We took the 10-12-18-2 day bus ride back to Cochabamba and that was a great ride. Got lots of photos and THAT I would definately do again. So I could see myself flying into Santa Cruz to have access to the countryside.
Back in Cochabamba (8,000 ft above sea level) I was fine for a few days until I hit the "altitude wall". At the insistance of all around me, I went to a clinic. Turns out my blood pressure had shot up a bit (140 over 90). The doc gave me a prescription for a B Complex and something to bring my blood pressure down and now I feel back to my normal outta shape 51 year-old self.
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