I have always said that travelling should be compulsory since it is an excellent education. Learning by seeing and experiencing. You meet other travellers and learn about their countries, the political situation and system in their countries. Not to mention the country one is touring through.
On the road, you learn about the country´s nature, geography, demography & politics, culture, history, and food traditions. And if one has an open mind it is easy to recognise how similar we are as humans.
The mother´s love and affection for her child is the same all around the world. Within us we all have the feeling of happiness, joy, pain, sadness, grief, anger, jealousy, no matter where we are located on earth. How we deal with them or react to those feelings, I guess, depends on our personality and also what is taught to us by our societies and families.
Focusing on differences is what politicians are good at. They know what they are doing and I guess they do it on purpose. By keeping us divided they can keep the power.
Exactly three weeks ago I left Brazil and landed in Santa Cruz de la Sierra in Bolivia – a country I did not know much about. For those of you who do not know (like me when I arrived), Santa Cruz de la Sierra is the largest city in Bolivia, with a population of 1,364,389 people.
Arriving in Bolivia I realized how little I knew about this country and the rest of South America in general. The only knowledge I had about Bolivia was from an article I wrote some years back, while I was still working as a freelance journalist.
The use of coca leaves among indigenous people was a major part of the article. I had interviewed some Bolivians participating in a conference in Norway. They were very optimistic on behalf of the indigenous people of their country because Evo Morales was the first president of the indigenous majority of the country.
I was told that limited private cultivation of coca is legal in Bolivia, where chewing the leaves and drinking coca tea are considered cultural practices, in particular in the mountainous regions. They had no real understanding of the connection between coca leaves and cocaine.
Since my arrival I have also learned that I find myself in a country of extremes. As the BBC says: “Landlocked Bolivia is the highest and most isolated country in South America. It has the largest proportion of indigenous people, who make up around two-thirds of the population. The country has the second-largest reserves of natural gas in South America, but there have been long-running tensions over the exploitation and export of the resource. Indigenous groups say the country should not relinquish control of the reserves, which they see as Bolivia’s sole remaining natural resource. Bolivia is also one of the world’s largest producers of coca, the raw material for cocaine. A crop-eradication programme, though easing the flow of conditional US aid, has incensed many of Bolivia’s poorest farmers for whom coca is often the only source of income.”
Arriving here I also discovered that Evo Morales was still in power. So, I had to check further to see how long he had been president.
That’s when I came across Evo Morales profile on the BBC´s website: “First elected in December 2005, Evo Morales, from the Aymara indigenous group, is the first president to come from the country’s indigenous majority. As a leader of a coca-growers union, he was also the first president to emerge from the social movements whose protests forced Bolivia’s two previous presidents from office. On election, he promised to govern in favour of Bolivia’s indigenous majority, who had suffered centuries of marginalisation and discrimination. An avowed socialist, his political ideology combines standard left-wing ideas with an emphasis on traditional indigenous Andean values and concepts of social organisation. But his first move, a few months after taking office, was to begin the process of putting Bolivia’s rich gas fields under state control.”
Coming from Brazil to Santa Cruz de La Sierra was a big transition for me, to put it in a polite way. I did not know anything about this city, and honestly, I did not even know that it existed.
Santa Cruz de la Sierra is a big city like any other substantial city around the world. And to me, crowded cities are mostly more delightful from above. Staying in one of the highest buildings in town with a view from the 16thfloor, I found Santa Cruz de la Sierra much more captivating from above than walking in its streets.
Luckily, the day after my arrival in Santa Cruz I met two young Bolivian women in their mid-30s and was given a local insight about their country.
Since they did not want to be filmed or appear with their full names, I chose to publish what we talked about via an audio file, and only their first names. Laura was 33 years old. She had just returned to Bolivia after some years abroad and was looking for a suitable job in her field as a journalist. Susana was 37 and a freelance graphic designer.
The video contents my bumpy road trips around the country and the interview with those two young women done in a car driving around the city. That explains the quality of the sound.
The internet connection is extremely poor here which makes it difficult to publish videos or audio files since uploading demands a better connection. That forces me to take a break from publishing.