Sucre (3rd time) and Potosí mardi, Avr 8 2008 

From 14th to 17th of February I had to travel to Sucre. The reason of that was simple, people were asking for me. If you remember well (if not, just check out the blog “Job’s stories” section) a part of my job is to help some cooperatives in Chuquisaca that produces pork and chicken by doing market study. A few months ago, when I got here, those 2 productions were just beginning and it didn’t have that much information to help he in my work. However, since then situation changed and the responsible of those coop. wanted to meet me to pass me all the information that is requested to do a better job. Also, a the last minute, my boss asked me to help him by preparing a 1,5 days formation on good governance and democratic management in cooperative. That formation was part of a formation plan for AGROCENTRAL, the central of agriculture coop. in Chuquisaca. After preparing the formation I had to participate in it as a formatter. So, it was really interesting experience ‘coz I never before did this king of formation, I never did formation in Spanish and it was the first time that I was working directly with the members of coop. So, I say it again, it was really a nice experience and the people told that I was not that bad!

Also, I did enjoy that opportunity (my last one there I think) to pass another week-end in Sucre to visit what I couldn’t see yet and go visit Potosí that is at 2,5 hours from the capital city. This was my original plan, but since a damned salad in a café put me really sick on that Sunday, I just when to visit Potosí and now I hope to have another occasion to go to Sucre and finish to see what I wanted. So let’s concentrate on Potosí.

Potosí, during the Spanish colony, was for a time the biggest city of the world in term of population. Also, the legend says that the Spanish did dig so much silver from the mountain beside the city that they could build a silver bridge to Europe! So, Potosí is miner city and the highest city of the Earth (4200 m). Also, it’s a colonial city with a lot of building and church that has more than 200, 300, 400 and even 500 years old!!! Witch is bad about Potosí is that since the mining industry is down, the city is getting poorer. So I went there to gather with 2 others cooperant friend, visit with them a mine and the first place in Bolivia where they began to do the money, la Casa de Moneda. That building was impressive but what was the most impressive is the visit of a miner cooperative. That visit was not king of tour that you can describe as tourism ‘coz those king of mine are so exploited as it was in the colony that it is hard to see. The miners’ conditions of working (and we should say life ‘coz a miner can work until 16 hours a day) are terrible. For nothing I would go back there as a tourist. Not that I want to escape from that reality but more for respect for those miners that we are going to see their life. I say that ‘coz really I’m happy that I could have seen the reality of the miners that we try to help. I say tray because we are trying right now to develop some miner’s project.

So, this travel was really rich in experience and I think it will stay as one of the best on a professional and a personal way.

Here you’ll find the pictures :


The Rodriguez market lundi, Nov 26 2007 

I never told you before about the Rodriguez market and all the markets that exist in La Paz. I think that it is impossible to count how much market La Paz has. There is Lui Salmon for all the electronic stuff; Las Brujas for the offer to the Pachamama and the Apus (spirit of the mountains); Uyustus for rope; 16 de Julio in El Alto where you can fin anything from old underwear to the car parts; Sagarnaga for the tourist stuff; and all those neighbourhood market. Than there is the Rodriguez market that is in fact the biggest food market of the city. It is in that market where you can find the best fruits and vegetables. So since I discover that place, it is my pleasure on Saturday morning to get there soon (the stuff is fresher at that time) to do my market. It’s really wonderful to see all these tables full of stock and these people yelling what they have at what price and the cholitas asking every time that you pass in front “Que va a llevar joven?” wich means “What to want young main?”. It’s just a weekly pleasure!

Salteñas, Tucumanas, Empanadas and other good food mardi, Nov 13 2007 

Salteñas, Tucumanas, Empanadas are such good food that I try almost every day to eat some since I know that I won’t find any when I’ll be back in Québec and because I don’t know how to cook it (and even if I knew I would to lazy to do it ‘coz I need a lot of time). So those 3 dishes are fried bread stuff with meat, eggs and spices. Delicious!

Also, what is really great here is the meat: the steak is really good and so cheap that you can’t resist.

Those expeditions that didn’t work lundi, Nov 12 2007 

Since a few weeks, we try to organize an expedition of 2-3 days to climb a mountain of more than 6000 m. We were looking mostly for the Huayna Potosí (6088 m) and the volcano Sajama (6532 m and also the highest mountain of Bolivia). But even if we began a long time ago those trips, even if we spoke may time on phone and met often, nothing worked well and we didn’t go. Some times it was for good reasons (bad climate conditions) but most of time it was because here everything is more complicated than it should be. So, next time, a Canadian friend and I decided to organize ourselves the trip ‘coz we can not effort the fact of loosing time since we are here only for a few more months.

No returnable bottles and another bas new for the Pachamama vendredi, Nov 9 2007 

I’m not lucky but my 2 favourite beers don’t have returnable bottles. In fact, only a few brand have this privilege in Bolivia, the most popular one (Huari, Paceña and Bock in La Paz and Sureña in Sucre) and only the big bottle. So, the other brand like Auténtica that I like and all the small bottles and cans are not returnable. Off course I can recycle it since I found a place but since I do not trust that much that recycling system I would prefer a returnable bottles’ system that is trustable. So, another bad thing for the environment that I have to accept since I can not change thing here (I’m not here enough time). I say another ‘coz I knew this week that all the batteries of Bolivia go to the dump even if more than 90% of the metal inside of it can be recycled and that putting in the garbage is REALLY DAMAGEABLE for the environment. So for that problem I can do something and I’ll keep my batteries until I go back to Québec where I can recycle it.

Chaqueos jeudi, Oct 4 2007 

What is chaqueos? Chaqueos is an ancestral tradition of cutting and burning the tropical forest to change it in cultivable land. Even if burned vegetation gives good land for 2-3 years it takes after that around 15 years to the earth to regenerate. So, each year in September Bolivian sky is full of smoke, we can not see anymore the Illimani from La Paz and people with pulmonary problems gets life harder. The World Bank estimate to 200 000 ha the amount of forest burned each year. At the beginning the environmental impact was not that big since just a few farmers were doing it, but with the migratory that problems got bigger. Even if the laws of Bolivia prohibit that practice, the immense territory (Beni, Pando, Santa Cruz, the 3 regions where is the most part of the tropical forest) to watch makes that is impossible to control it. So, an ancestral tradition with big environmental impacts.

Program changes and Bolivian meeting mardi, Oct 2 2007 

Last Friday, a Belgian friend and I decided to see free presentation of Mexican movie at the municipal theatre. My friend went twice during the week and really like it even if a little people participate to that event (one day he was only with 2 other people in the place!). When we arrived there it had animation outside and the theatre was full. So, we got in and we received at the entrance a prospectus and a key holder with… and an official invitation! So we began to doubt that we could see the Mexican movie. At the end, it’s when we red the invitation that our doubt got confirmed: we were in the middle of the inauguration of a television series on teenager’s rights! So we saw all the protocol, 3 chapters of that series and we had drink and food at the end! So that’s what I call a program changes (even if the official program of the theatre were saying Mexican movies!).

On the other hand, Éric and I (Éric is another Canadian that lives in my building) met randomly 2 young Bolivian girl last Saturday. They were really friendly so we exchange our cell phone number and got in touch to get out in the same night. Since we went that day to the mountain and knew that we were going again the day after, we decided to get out pretty soon: at 22h00. At the meeting point we waited 15 min. then called again the girls to tell them to join us directly at the bar. There we had time to take 2 beers and passed 1h30 and we never saw them! Again, that’s what I call a Bolivian meeting! (It’s a joke, I know that al Bolivians are not like that.)

Cholita and Pacific War jeudi, Sep 13 2007 

Just a little word really quickly about 2 subjects that, in the first case put my attention and, in the other one, fascinate me every morning. So there it is:


What is a Cholita? Quickly, it’s women that wear traditional clothe and, normally, wear also the water melon hat. If you go on my Facebook to look at my vacation’s pictures you’ll have a good picture on the album cover. But brought my attention on Cholita is that question: « How do we become a Cholita? ». The answer was pretty simple: traditionaly the Cholitas are the indigenous women or mixed on with strong traditional behaviour in their family. But now, since the Cholita style is well view in the population (there is a « Miss Cholita » challenge), a women can decide to become a Cholita by getting dressed as it should (but at minimum you must have the physical characteristic ‘coz I never saw a Cholita with European face!).

Pacific War

The Pacific war was between 1879 and 1884 and opposed Chilli to the Bolivia-Peru coalition. The result of that war is that Bolivia lost its unique access to sea and Peru lost its province of Tarapacá (source. Wikipedia). So that event happened 123 years ago but even that Bolivian people and radio station are still speaking about it. In fact, every morning I can heard in Pan América (news radio station) a 40 seconds military march asking Bolivia to listen to the call of Pacific ocean and that one day they will take back their land from the one who stolen it (but they don’t name Chilli). Every morning when the La Paz network get connected to the national one I can heard that message and it fascinates me!

Bolivie, Bolivia: Photos, Fotografías, Pictures jeudi, Sep 6 2007 

Voici 2 liens pour voir des photos un peu pêle-mêle de la Bolivie (consultez-le souvent car j’y ajouterai des photos de temps à autre):

Aquí esta las direcciones para ver fotografías generales de Bolivia (míralo muchas veces porque voy a poner otras algunas veces):

Here is the links to see some general picture from Bolivia (look at it a couple of time ‘coz I’ll add pictures sometimes):

Sucre’s turn vendredi, Août 17 2007 

I don’t know what was going on yesterday Thursday August 16th but everything is closed and the entire streets were blocked in Sucre. I guest it’s again for the debate about the “Capitalena plena”. I was the only one working in the building while normally all the people of UNEC and AGROCENTRAL are too (2 organisations that I help in commerce and formation). So, after La Paz, it’s Sucre’s turn to be empty (another time!).

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