Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Final Days

It feels like winter is finally departing from Bolivia. It’s getting to the point where one can wear a sleeveless shirt all day long and be comfortable. Today I flew from Cochabamba to Santa Cruz and upon both embarking and disembarking, I felt the warm rays of the sun and felt as though I were in a tropical country. It’s too bad I’m leaving just as the nice weather returns. On the other hand, with no A/C or fan in my current apartment, maybe it’s a good time to go.

This morning, at my hotel in Cochabamba, a bevy of bodyguards in black suits milled around the front door, looking at me suspiciously. I found out a Mexican musician, Anna Barbara, was in town to give a concert the next day. I’ve never heard of her, but I was told she sings ranchero music.

Upon leaving Cochabamba, I took in the view of the giant white Christ overlooking the city, the purple flowering jacaranda trees dropping their leaves, and the foul smell of a canal. I sat near the window on the plane and looked out over the dusty, brown mountainous city, then a landscape of bare brown mountains and scrubby matching homes that stretched until the flat, greener area of Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz is the same as usual – hectic, loud, dusty and though now warmer, still windy. I noticed some new graffiti among the usual anti-Evo material. This one reads (with a large E, V, O):

(In Venezuela I obey), referring to what anti-Evo people consider his bowing to Venezuelan leader Chavez.

Today I read the second report within just a few weeks of illegal Ethopians and Eritreans caught in Bolivia. In the first case, a group of immigrants was found in a house near my original apartment. I wondered why they’d choose to emigrate to Bolivia, especially since I almost never see an African here. Today’s newspaper article said they are using Bolivia as an entry point to the U.S. and Canada.

For what seems like weeks now, the newspapers have been full of stories of protests and conflict in Sucre. I could never quite understand what was going on. So today I asked my taxi driver. He said that people in Sucre wanted the governing bodies moved to Sucre.

Idiotically, I asked why. “The capital is in La Paz isn’t it?” I asked.

“No, it’s Sucre.”

I’ve lived here five months and didn’t realize the capital was Sucre. In all practical senses, La Paz is the capital, with the government, business, and airlines centered there. So understandably, Sucre wants a change. If they could get the government to relocate, maybe they’d get some more recognition.

My taxi driver didn’t think it would happen. “The people in La Paz feel just as strongly about it staying,” he said.

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