I’m writing this right at the end of my second week in La Paz! Still no wifi so posts are a bit few and far between.
So last weekend we went along to the big (very fancy) driver’s school, which is part of this weird car club in a posh part in La Paz. It was really well received and, unlike in England where if you ask a question out to a group of people they stay fairly awkwardly silent, here everyone was very keen to give their opinions on the issue of noise pollution.
The rest of the weekend was spent relaxing really- we visited the Megacentre which is down the road and so big it’s almost a joke. You can buy literally anything you can think of, there’s an ice rink, a HUGE cinema, a bowling alley, casino and laser tag. Madness. There’s also a big cafeteria style thing which everyone was in and you could basically get whatever food you fancy.
We had the morning off on Monday because we worked Saturday morning but when we met in the afternoon we were spreading awareness about our event we were carrying out in a square on Tuesday. We literally had to go right up to people with our little signs and tell them about the event. Good Spanish practice but any shyness/awkwardness had to go out the window!
Tuesday was the day of the event. We had our two tents set up showing the polluted La Paz (dark, lots of clouds which we had info on, a bonfire in the middle) and a tent which was showing a La Paz free of pollution where we had a guitar, cushions, flowers and even a legit hippy who overstayed his welcome maybe a tad at the end sort-of playing the guitar! People were really interested and impressed with what we did and I had people congratulating us and shaking my hand!
Wednesday we started the day with a language exchange with the Bolivian volunteers from the other groups with International service. Most of them speak great English, with a few exceptions! So it was a good experience. We then had a day on how to deliver a workshop and we got into groups and delivered a workshop to each other at the end of the day. Ours was on gender, there was one on the environment and one on human rights too.
On Thursday our team leader told us that we aren’t having much (if any) communication really with our partner organisation in La Paz which is obviously not ideal but does mean that we can branch out a little in the things that we are doing. Our project is officially called ‘Ciudadanos del Mundo’ which means citizens of the world and is basically to do with citizenship culture and awareness and rights and such. So we’re making workshops on whatever we really fancy, such as female empowerment, employability, rights, sexuality etc. and we have lots of contacts with other charities in the city who are really keen for us to work with them and for us to deliver the workshops to them which is great!!
Sadly I was ill on Thursday night/Friday so I missed work which was a weird feeling; I think we’ve all been completely rushed off our feet for the last couple of weeks almost every single one of us has got ill at some point!
It was the gay pride march in La Paz last night which apparently only the second one they’ve ever had here and the last one was 4 years ago! We all went along, got our hats and all marched behind our International Service banner. It was loads of fun and tonnes of people turned out to watch, we were quite the spectacle. Being actively gay is legal in Bolivia but most people are quite religious and are not quite round to the idea yet so it was a big moment for La Paz to have such a big turn out. There were amazing drag queens left, right and centre who were basically amazing.
So that’s been my week, more or less. I’m starting to know La Paz a bit more now and it definitely feels like it’s shrinking in size as I figure out how to get around. The minibuses are madness, they have landmarks they pass on their fronts and are jam packed with people all the time and you just flag them down wherever you fancy. The Teleférico continues to amaze me and they’re having another 6 or so routes of that put in in over the next 5 years which will be really impressive.
Today we got the Teleferico up to El Alto, which is this massive town at the top of the hill and basically merged with La Paz now where there was an absolutely GINORMOUS market. I mean, you could buy anything for next to no money at all from tyres and cars to clothes hangers and roast chicken. There was every sticker you could fancy for your car, like a taxi one to start your illegitimate business, strange sewing staple things, churros and hot dogs, coats and dresses, cafes and places to buy your furniture and curtains. Crazy. We were beyond knackered at the end though, it was such a big place.
Tonight we’re off out with Cecilia, our host mum, for dinner in the south part of La Paz which will be lovely. I’m having a great time out here and it feels like it’s flying by already!!
More photos soon!
Lots of love,