Bolivia: Entry 3

4 December 2002: Cochabamba, Bolivia

Subject: Bolivia


In most respects Cochabamba has been a pleasant change from La Paz. It's a bit warmer here - we're a bit lower down, though still well above the level of the jungle - and the place is a bit more peaceful. You can cross the road without thinking that you're taking your life in your hands every time. Architecturally it's colonial, with a couple of nice plazas with big shady trees and arcades, not unlike some of the places I visited in Mexico. And it's clearly a relatively afluent place (and I hope the wealth isn't all from Coca production and Nazi Gold).

On the down side, I got poisoned by something. Probably a plate of goulash from an expensive tourist restraunt. (Christine says, "If there was one thing I could say to the Bolivian People it would be 'Now Wash Your Hands'".) So Christine has seen the tourist attractions while I have been recovering. The main one is a palace built in the 1920s by a "tin barron" in the style of Versailles with a replica of the Sistene Chapel in the attic!

So now I'm mostly better and we're heading to Sucre. It is Bolivia's capital-in-name-only (everything apart from the supreme court moved to La Paz yonks ago). And it's famous for its weaving...


Sadly we arrived in Cochabamba a day too late to witness history in the making. A few weeks ago MacDonalds announced that they were going to close down in three Latin American and Middle Eastern countries (see At the time I didn't know which countries, but it turns out that Bolivia is one of them, and Cochabamba had one of their three outlets here! I read about this in a newspaper and then walked a few blocks down the road to where it used to be: it had closed the night before, but already there was impenetrable corrugated iron all around it. But the top of a "Big M" was visible over the top. So that's one blow against globablisation - but it's probably one fewer food outlet in Cochabamba where they wash their hands.