Live from Bolivia, It’s Earth Image!

Our resident land surveyor and all-around bon vivant is in Bolivia and sent these photos and commentary:

Peeps and places around Cochabamba Bolivia while we consider further investments in an exploding market.

[Ed note: I had to look up Cochabamba on a map and I’ve posted a Google map screen shot at the bottom for anyone else who wonders where exactly Earth Image is, or even where Bolivia is!]

From Wikipedia: Cochabamba

Cochabamba is one of the main hubs for cocaine dealers in South America. In June 2012 the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo gained access to intelligence reports that showed that cocaine cartels were the economic force behind condominiums and real estate as well as industries such as meat processing.

  • Cochabamba is also mentioned in the documentary The Corporation, about their fight against privatisation of water by a foreign-owned company. The people protested against this and won. The privatisation had gone to such an extent that even rain water was not allowed to be collected. Read Cochabamba protests of 2000.
  • Cochabamba has been confirmed to be the seat of a future South American Parliament when it is formed by UNASUR. UNASUR has yet to determine what the composition of the Parliament will be, but existing treaties all agree it will meet in Cochabamba.
  • Cochabamba was the first place rugby union in Bolivia was formally established.
  • Cochabamba was featured as a location in the story in the 1983 film, Scarface. Powerful drug lord Alejandro Sosa resided there, governed large coca plantations and owned cocaine labs where upon further refining, would be shipped to Tony Montana in Florida.
  • Cochabamba is the setting of the 2010 movie También la lluvia (Even the rain), which takes place during the water war of 2000. It depicts a team making a movie about the colonization of Latin America, when the protests against privatization arise. The star is Mexican actor Gael García Bernal, and the film has received good criticism.
  • Cochabamba is also the site of several major spam operators, as confirmed by the watchdog group Spamhaus.

High rise construction Bolivia style, one bag of cement at a time.
ei1174

Terracotta brick with plaster veneer.  Conduits are snaked through voids in the brick, or just smashed into place and plastered over.
ei1194

A kind of coke that really refreshes!
ei1222

City views.
ei1183

EI sent along a YT video of Cochabamba but for some reason this morning WordPress isn’t allowing me to drop it inside the thread to play – says it’s not a supported format. I’ve saved it from his email and will try again later to see if it works.

For the geography challenged among us:
mapbolivia

Safe travels Earth Image. I want to know:

1. How do you GET to Cochabamba? Fly to La Paz and take a three mule team coach to Cochabamba?

2. How hot is it???

3. Do you have to be concerned about the quality of the drinking water?

4. Are you in any earthquake region?

5. Is there a regional dialect of Spanish spoken unique to Bolivia, and even more unique to Cochabamba?

Thanks for sharing your journey with us. Keep us in the loop.

PS: The Jeff Dunham concert last night was so incredibly fabulous I’m STILL laughing. I got to Mohegan Sun early enough to play a few slot machines and won $85.00, enough to buy one hot dog and a Pepsi!

Happy Saturday one and all.

ADDITIONAL EI photo, in just now.

BBQ lunch??

16 thoughts on “Live from Bolivia, It’s Earth Image!

  1. The Water Wars were fought and won, not by the PEOPLE, but by Coca-cola. Our condo has its own deep well. The city is at the geographic intersection of the rain forests, the great grassland pampas, and the mountains, with a climate of perpetual springtime. 80’s by day, 40’s by night.

    If you look carefully at the Coke truck photo, you will see that half the truck is filled with water products.

    And note that every building has cell phone antennae. My iPhone download speed is 25 Mb/sec., upload 5 Mb. Take that, Cablevision.

    Note to the Clinton Administration. Thank you for losing the drug wars. Keep sending the cash.

    When I first came here in 1992 following Al Gore and my daughter, the selva was filled with peasants all walking around with a role of $20s. The country was still reminiscent of Butch Cassidy and Che. Look at the place now. When Al Gore called himself “father of the internet”, it was partly because of the electronic banking and money laundering network he set up here. Thanks, Al.

  2. If you recall my Texas cowboy photo of my grandfather W. Walter Kerr, he was the business agent for Matador Land and Cattle. After WWI he superintended their Brazil operations, with 10 million acres, about the size of CT and Mass. So I have always been connected to the idea of great estancia ranches here.

    My wife and daughter are Spanish teachers. We’ll see how my Quechua and Aymara do in the marketplace this morning. The indigenous peoples revolution of 1952, along with the socialist presidency of Evo Morales, has put People’s rights and culture to the fore. The country is majority indigenous. Morales got his political start as head of the coca growers. Not bad work if you can get it.

    His personal punishment in part to US citizens is the cost of a Visa – 1000 Bolivian pesos ($160.) That said, he’ll welcome your company.

    1. I have driven that road myself. The right of way rules are complex and backing up can be fatal. The driver side stays to the outside to watch the wheels against the cliff edge. Uphill has priority.

      1. You have my deepest respect, good sir, for traversing that road and living to tell about it. With my acrophobia, there is no way I could manage that – I even had to look away at some of the shots in the video.

        1. Living in the Swiss Alps for a couple+ years. I learned how to drive the narrow switchback roads with my eyes closed! Acrophobia cured.

          I can remember once hearing (yes hearing) a car behind me careen off a Swiss road. It was like a cartoon sound effect – a whoosh then a whistle, then boom, a million feet down. The car was there one minute and gone the next. I caught a split second of his demise in my rear view mirror. The sound has stayed with me all these years. It was creepy.

  3. My experience with the death highway crossing the Andes came from an invitation from a lovely and proper English couple, who knew my taste for adventure and road trips, to drive them from La Paz over the mountain pass, La Cumbre at 4600 meters, down in the Yungas valley 20 miles away for an afternoon picnic, and then to return. At the time I didn’t know enough Spanish to understand the rough painted instructions on switches between left hand and right hand driving.

    When we got to the Yungas after two hours of white knuckled driving, I discovered that while all the locals walked around with a thick wad of US $20s, no one could make change, since they had only that one denomination of currency. Thus everything was priced in multiples of 20.

    But what excited me most was the realization that all the agricultural resources of Brazil and Argentina, as well as eastern Bolivia, had this highway standing between them and the Asian Markets of the Pacific Rim. Today a great truck route has been built, but it runs through Cochabamba, and on to the duty-free Bolivian port of Ilo, Peru. It passes though the indigenous town of Sacaba, about 1Km south of where I write this from.

    Yesterday, I spent a few moments photographing the convoy line of tandem-trucks and traffic. Then while my camera was down and I was looking the wrong direction, a white armored truck, like something out of Star Wars with green windows, passed carrying cash in the opposite direction.

  4. I learned from the local truckers that their secret to appeasing the road gods was a liberal application of alcohol and coca leaf direct to the tires of their vehicles. And after safe passage, to themselves.

  5. And here I thought Bob Horton was taking poetic license with EI’s location in his Greenwich Time piece.

  6. Timeline Correction.

    My second trip to Bolivia was in May of 1994, and I was remembering this:

    Mar. 20, 1994 11:51 PM ET
    HUATAJATA, BOLIVIA HUATAJATA, Bolivia (AP) _ Vice President Al Gore on Sunday visited his Bolivian counterpart’s hometown, an Aymara Indian village on Lake Titicaca, more than two miles above sea level.
    Dancers wearing brightly colored feather headresses performed ancient Aymara Indian dances in a ceremony to welcome Gore and his wife, Tipper.
    The couple didn’t appear to suffer any ill-effects from the 12,500-foot altitude. They attended a Baptist Church service and toured the local school where Bolivian Vice President Victor Hugo Cardenas, an Aymara Indian intellectual and educator, was taught by Baptists.
    Speaking to several thousand Aymara Indian farmers, Gore praised Cardenas for his ability to rise from his humble origins to the vice presidency. He spoke in English, and his comments were translated into Aymara and Spanish.
    ”His leadership role is not only important for Bolivia but a symbol of hope throughout the continent,” said Gore during a ceremony on the shores of Lake Titicaca, 65 miles northwest of La Paz.
    During a welcome ceremony at the La Paz airport, Gore praised Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada’s ”dynamic leadership” to advance economic and social reform in this landlocked country, South America’s poorest.
    From the airport, Gore went to Huatajata, an adobe and tin-roof village where Cardenas and his wife were born and raised.
    After a ceremony of Indian dances, Gore, Sanchez de Lozada and Cardenas shared a traditional Indian meal of dehydrated potatoes called ”chuno,” fish and fava beans served on a hand-woven cloth spread out near the lake.
    ”We have visited many places in the world, but never have we received such warm hospitality as we have found in Huatajata,” said Gore, who was covered with flower garlands and given a totora reed boat as a gift.
    At least 75 U.S. security personnel and thousands of Bolivian police and members of the armed forces were mobilized for the three-hour visit to Huatajata. Bolivian navy vessels patrolled on Lake Titicaca.
    In August 1988, a bomb exploded near a motorcade carrying former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz as he traveled from the airport to La Paz.
    On his arrival, Gore had been greeted with a garland made of coca leaves – the raw material for cocaine – that Mayor Flavio Clavijo of El Alto, where the airport is located, placed around his neck. U.S. Ambassador Charles Bowers immediately removed it.
    Bolivia is the world’s second largest grower of coca leaf, which is used to make cocaine.
    Clavijo said the garland was to show Gore ”the need to respect the traditions of the people.” Coca is an integral part of Aymara and Quechua Indian cultures, where it is chewed to kill hunger and used in medicines and rituals.
    With U.S. aid, Bolivia has been encouraging farmers to switch to other crops by paying growers up to $2,000 for each 2 1/2 acres of coca leaf they destroy. The United States is providing $112 million in aid this year, down $63 million from last year.
    Mrs. Gore met with Aymara Indian school children and presented them with materials to finish building a school.
    Gore flew later Sunday to the tropical city of Santa Cruz to sign aid agreements with the Bolivian government, including a $7 million grant for development and environmental protection.
    Gore will continue Sunday night to Argentina, then stop in Brazil before returning to Washington on Tuesday.

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