Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Ghost Town and the Reawakening

The top two pictures illustrate what the election did to La Paz. They are both taken from the same spot, the higher on the day of the election, the lower after. A bustling energetic city, that Dave compared strangely aptly to Bangkok, turned into a total ghost town. I took a few walks on the day with Mike and then Claudia and AK and it was the oddest feeling. The streets were silent. There were no cars or bikes or crowds, but instead at most kids playing ball games in the street. I suppose I found it quite serene. Heading towards the centre there were a few significantly armed riot police and a military presence but I did not feel threatened. This markedly strange day was spent in stasis - waiting for something to happen!!

And did it......... no. It became increasingly clear that Morales was the winner. Watch this space as his manifesto includes legalising coca growing (he was himself a coca farmer and the first indigenous premier of this fascinating country) and let's just say that does not run in line with current US policy. The day went in peace!

The nights of prohibition and beyond were spent in hotels rooms sipping forbidden things with what a lovely bunch of people. Generally I dislike travelling in groups but every so often things just fit together and a group of people have a great time. Once the ban was removed the rooms were supplemented by Mango's and Ram Jam's (I will remember for a while transversing the city 4 times solo, but at least searches were successful) and we enjoyed La Paz. Interesting walks round the busy streets (I have never seen so many things for sale that I do not want lining street after street) supplemented the evenings. When it comes down to it, I grew quite fond of La Paz for all its dirt and smells. As always it has been the friendliness of the locals that have really made the place. I can not say that the experience has been as interactive as say in Colombia, but the people I have met have been nice and mostly welcoming. A good base from which to explore the wonders of Bolivia.
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