Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday

Today is Good Friday, a national holiday in Bolivia. Virtually the entire city shut down. When I went out to try to find some food, the only option I found was a nearby hotel. All the cafes and shops were shut. Very little traffic moved on the streets. Many businesses had dogs sitting in their front windows, ready to bark at any intruders.

I read in the newspaper told about a university student who was attacked in a taxi just a few days ago, and right in my neighborhood. After she got in, the taxi drove a bit, then three others jumped in with her. She was seriously beaten.

It’s definitely been difficult for me to take taxis since my bad experience in Nicaragua. I was told I’d have a car and driver here, but that didn’t emerge. I was told to take radio taxis, as those are linked to a call center and it’s a check on their viability. But even to get a cell phone so I could call a radio taxi was a struggle.

I’ve felt some pressure as if I’m being overcautious, or over demanding. And sometimes it’s a pain to have to wait 10-15 for a radio taxi to come when one is ready to go right away. I’ve been here almost two weeks and haven’t had any bad experiences yet. That leads me to relax and feel like everything is OK.

It’s tempting to try to ignore the signs that danger is present, even though the gates and grills in front of every store and home, the guard dogs, and the 24-hour guards on the street give another picture. But this article reminded me that it only takes one incident, and that it can happen, even in the place that everyone is telling me is so safe. So I’ll continue taking precautions.

I’m currently reading The Plumed Serpent, by DH Lawrence. In it, Kate, an Irish woman, is in Mexico, during the Revolutionary times. She often finds it scary and doesn’t like living with fear. Her friend Cipriano tells her, “..there must be a bit of fear, and a bit of horror in your life…The bit of horror is like the sesame seed in the nougat, it gives the sharp wild flavour. It is good to have it there.”

I feel that little fear, the little horror, in the back of my mind here. I suppose it does give life a more sharp, wild flavor. But if I had a choice, I think I’d prefer to live without it. It causes people to construct prisons around themselves – to lock themselves into their secure homes, secure vehicles, and secure gathering places. It keeps them from interacting, from walking, from mixing with the full array of life around them.

I moved from my hotel into a condominium today. It’s a really cute, furnished place, in a Mexican style, that looks out onto a swimming pool. I like it a lot and despite the fact that it’s on the first floor, the security seems to be pretty good. Yet, it’s still a little scary to be alone. And it’s also strange to get used to having a whole three rooms to myself when I’ve spent the last two weeks in a single room.

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