Week 2 in Bolivia
Summary – Very frustrating week. I have spent each day in school worrying about Gary, he has not always had access to the internet so there have been days when I have not known whether he is safe and well. My Spanish lessons have given me something to focus on but it has been a difficult week for both of us. Of course more so for Gary, I am so glad, I chose not to cycle this last stretch of Paraguay.
I have moved to my new apartment, it is bang whallop in the middle of the local’s market, which is huge (the market not my apartment) and a little noisy (views from my window below along with a picture of the front of my building, yes there are vendors sitting right outside my gate). It is better than staying in a hostel but i am struggling to sleep with all the noise. It is amazing the hours these stall holders work, they set up at 06.00am and are still working at 19.00pm. Some are selling very little, a small pile of peas, carrots, peppers and spinach. I can purchase a small bag of veg for less than 30p. It is clearly a hard way to make a living but as the governement does not have a benefits system like ours they have very little choice. The old people here look much older than people in the UK. Some people are unable to work and they are left to beg in the streets. I asked at my spanish school what happens to these people if they get ill, or are unable to beg and my tutor replied ‘they die’. Apparently once the elderly reach 67 they receive 300 bolivianos a month this is about £30 which would not cover the cost of a room, let alone food, clothes etc.
The dogs seem to fare better, there are hundreds of them, they are friendly and mainly look well fed. Most of the dogs in the city are wearing jumpers to keep them warm. As you can imagine with that amount of dogs there’s a lot of barking and dog shit. To be fair the street cleaners do an excellent job of cleaning up but it would be impossible to ensure the pavements were always clean because of the amount of dogs.
The children however seem to suffer the most, I have seen children as young as 6 or 7 walking the streets trying to sell small pieces of fruit/veg. Or doing basic gymnastics in front of stationary cars. Some have no shoes and looking extremely dirty and skinny. I am not sure where they sleep but I have seen several peeing in the drains. I have also observed babies sleeping in crates while their mothers work either cleaning the streets or selling food. It is destressing to see especially in contrast to the majority of children who attend school, are well dressed and wander the streets without a care in the world.
When I first arrived in Sucre, I seemed to be forever putting my hand in my pocket and giving away small change. But as it is a poor country I soon realised that I needed the small change as much as the locals. I have tried presenting a 50 bolivian note in shops and they struggle to break this down. This equates to about £6. Talking of money I found to my cost that I have been given two fake 50 bolivian dollar notes. This experience has taught me not to be so complacent with my money.
It is the winter here in Sucre however the temperature during the day is late teens early 20’s centigrade. While you have sweltered in the UK the temperature dropped here on Wednesday and the schools closed for the rest of the week! Apparently the next big city up from Sucre has had snow so as a precaution the schools closed. I am in bed every night by 7.00pm just to keep warm I either read my book or watch a programme under the quilt cover brrrrr.
It is much busier in Sucre this week, as it is winter a lot of familes went away for a couple of weeks but returned this week. The roads are congested and the city smells of exhaust fumes.
My lessons are progressing well but I still do not feel confident putting sentences together. I am hoping this will improve. Other than attending lessons and touring the city my week has been quite dull. I had my haircut, which was a huge mistake, It took me the best part of a year to grow all the layers out and it took one crazy hairdresser 15 minutes to undo all my hard work. This is dispite the fact that I showed her a picture and told her quite clearly I only wanted a little bit off.
I visited a market which sells miniature items, cars, money, houses, baby dolls, degrees, contracts etc the locals believe if you purchase one of these items and have it blessed you will be awarded the equivalent but bigger. The person who told me this truly believed this to be the case.
Gary’s week has been more adventurous as I am sure you will find out when you read his blog. I am finding it really difficult being apart from him – love definitely hurts.
I will be moving apartment again this weekend, to a smaller, cheaper apartment in the city. This will be my 4th move in 2 weeks!! The things I do to keep myself amused.
As I finish writing this blog, I have just read an email from Gary and he has decided to get the bus to Sucre rather than cycling Yayyyyyyyy!!! I am very excited.