Friday, July 3, 2015

2 weeks in Bolivia

Hello all!

We have now all been in Bolivia for over 2 and a half weeks. The hills are getting less of a challenge to scramble up and the number of illnesses in the group has decreased to single figures.

This weekend was the Gay Pride march in La Paz. Our team went along to support. We had a big “Servicio Britanico” banner that we all marched behind, laden down by our colourful hats and massive rainbow-covered flags. There must have been a couple of hundred people on the march that included some apparently very famous drag queens. We all sang and chanted our way through El Prado which is the main street in the centre of La Paz and were watched from the sidelines by thousands of Bolivians, many of whom cheered and cheered us on. We reached Plaza Camacho after what felt like hours of marching and joined a big crowd of people all celebrating gay pride. We all danced around and took plenty of photos with the amazing drag queens left, right and centre. Being gay is legal in Bolivia but there is still a lot of stigma surrounding it. Today we carried out a short survey regarding the attitude towards the LGBT community in La Paz and there was such a varied response. Bolivia is a fairly religious country so many people are opposed to homosexuality and same-sex marriage in particular on these grounds. However lots of people seem extraordinarily liberal and are very keen to express how everyone is equal and should be treated so.

Also this week we’ve been planning and preparing our workshops which we’ll be putting into use over the coming weeks on topics such as sexuality, self-esteem and domestic violence.

As we travel around more of La Paz and use more and more of the buses, the city gets much smaller and manageable. I still can’t actually believe we go to work on the Teleférico which is literally a cable car and it seems utterly mad that we get to use it to commute, it looks like it was put there just to leisurely enjoy the incredible view. I live in the south of La Paz and it’s quite a distance from the office so I get to experience all the different types of getting around. Yesterday I took a micro, which is one of the traditional South American buses and normally completely packed to the rafters. At one point I was sat between three indigenous ladies with their very small babies completely swaddled up in the most colourful cloth. None of the babies had any complaints at all whilst they were being swung around like a bag of potatoes. Otherwise I get the little minibuses which squeeze in up to 16 or 17 people at a time and cost about 25p to get anywhere in the city. There are so many of them that there’s always one going in your direction which is so incredibly useful and I bet I will miss like crazy once I’m back in England and the very expensive, unreliable buses near me!

It’s been a mad few weeks so far and it’s already flying by. I can’t wait to see what the next few weeks will bring now.

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