bolivian riot

bolivia is such a riot of colours.

there’s the traditional dress worn by the older women with their lined brown faces and their bright bundles slung across their backs. the corner stands full of fresh oranges waiting to be made into juice. the surreal landscapes of the altiplano and the white steeples of sucre painted against the sky. the wide plazas full of sweet carts and balloon stands and sunlight and palm trees. the flags of festivals and impromptu parades in the street. the bustle of markets filled with fragrant pastries and shiny silver earrings and woolen hats. the high dark mountain backdrop and thin blue air.

it’s a lot to take in. there is so much to see. there is also an incredible amount of poverty. i won’t get into the politics of the “war on drugs”, but it is on the streets of bolivia that you see much of the fallout. babies begging. little boys trying to earn money as shoepolishers when they should be in school. it’s a heartwrenching thing to witness again and again, and even more horrible to have to turn away from it over and over.

we spent a few days in sucre, a laid back little city with a chilled vibe, just relaxing and replenishing after all the activity and experiences of the previous few days. now we’re in la paz, idyosyncratically charming with it’s frenetic markets and hustle, yet nestled high in the mountains. it feels like a buzzing little bumblebee of a city. we’ve shopped and drank and danced. we had scrummy little sidewalk salteƱas and a gut-busting brunch buffet. it’s been a fun few days, and it’s “felt” more south american than anyplace we’ve been yet.

i’m not quite sure how to describe that (what makes it so?), but there you go. it’s really satisfied that expectation of a vibrant, unique, and colourful cuture. the stereotypical pan flute music and woven handicrafts, the street food and aromas, the energetic people and religious iconery, the age-old customs and indigenous roots.

it’s all here in bolivia. in abundance.

we’re off for copacabana tomorrow, which has been blockaded for the past few days (for various reasons, depending on which of the differing accounts you believe), but is now open.

ciao ciao,

(more photos here and here)

One Response to “bolivian riot”

  1. kim
    September 10th, 2006 12:21

    lovin’ these photos, Jen. great colours. can’t wait to see more. really, fab job with the variety of images from all your destinations thus far!

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