Shit I Learned In Bolivia

There was definitely no shortage of shit to learn in Bolivia. Some of it sad, some of it angering and yet some of it hilarious, entertaining and interesting. It is a country that has had it’s ups and downs and then some more after that. Here is some shit I learned while I was there.

Bolivia used to have access to the sea

Well once upon a time, before Chile decided that the bird shit for fertilizer meant big dollar signs and that they could just essentially go to war with Bolivia and take that area of land and call it their own. Needless to say, Bolivia is now landlocked and this is one of the contributing factors to it being one of the poorer countries in South America. No access to the sea, means having to transport goods through another country overland and that is going to cost. Another win for Chile.

The dollar sign was created in Bolivia

$$$ Yep! That one. Back in the day when the mint in Potosi was working at exceptionally high output (well for back in those days when horses were operating the machinery) they used to brand the coins with symbols that signified that they were indeed minted in Potosi. These symbols consisted of the letters P T S and I merged into one symbol. The S and I merged together were what originally gave rise to the dollar symbol. Well according to the mint in Potosi…. the internet is still out with those decisions.

The Bolivian Presidential term is supposed to be limited to two terms.

I say supposed to be because the current, corrupt-as-shit president decided that if he changed the name of the country, then he could run again for a third term because he was president of a whole other country before. The locals obviously got pissed off with this as they don’t want some corrupt-as-shit wanker running their country and had a referendum they referred to as 21F because it happened on the 21st February. The majority decided they were against changing the constitution to allow dictators the capability to take over the country, but as dictators do, they take over and don’t listen regardless. There are still quite a lot of protests happening with this, but mostly they fall on deaf ears.

A 21F protest. ‘Bolivia says no’.

A man’s prowess is to be expressed through knitting

That’s right, you heard correctly. Knitting. When these boys are young, they have to get out their knitting needles and start practicing making these knitted hats that they use to demonstrate to the ladies how skilled they are. The single chaps wear different hats to those that have married, however, if ya boy can’t knit, he is gonna have some shocking lady problems. In that he ain’t gonna have one.

The Tiwanaku gave rise to the Incas

The Tiwanaku people originated on the southern parts of Lake Titicaca, which now is much smaller than what it was before as the ruins that used to be on the water are now a substantial way inland. The people consisted of different groups that spoke different languages, two of these being the Aymara and the Quechua. Today you can still see small groups of the Aymara’s living on the lake. The have built fabulous reed islands and have an interesting culture. The Quechuan speakers, however, went off and became and entity unto themselves. They became what we know now as the Incas. Majority of the building structures and styles of the Incas demonstrate a knowledge developed from the time of the Tiwanaku as can been observed by looking at the structures from both periods.

The glorious ruins of Tiwanaku

The Spanish screwed up a few words in this hood too

That famous place that they sing about where music and passion are always in fashion…. yeah that is right, the Copacabana…. that is a word that derives from Aymara. But of course the Spanish can’t pronounce ‘kota kahuana’ and butchered it like everything else.

Other fun word meanings

Lake Titicaca. Titi in Quechua means puma, and caca translates to rock. So Lake Titicaca is essentially a puma rock. Which is somewhat odd. How they ever knew what the shape of a lake that size was in astounding. The lake itself is shaped like a puma, so it makes it somewhat believable. The jury still isn’t on this one though, as there are many different ideas of where the name came from including more Spanish butchering of indigenous words. The truth? Nobody really knows what it used to be called before. There aren’t enough artefacts to tell us.

Dinosaurs

After a very long journey, through a very long valley all the way from Cochabamba to Torotoro to learn about dinosaurs, I learned a great deal about how they train tour guides…. in fact I am pretty sure that they don’t.

“So um, how were they preserved?” I ask.

“Well the dinosaurs just walked here and then over time the mud dried and it got hard.” Ummmm….. and then?

It is fair to say that we had a rather beautiful, humorous and not so informative journey through here. Who am I kidding? I didn’t learn shit about dinosaurs! (Chuckles internally at the thought of making tour guide consistently awkward by asking too many scientific questions in Spanish that he didn’t seem to know the answers to.)

Dinosaur footprints. Big dinosaur (from deduction). Don’t ask me how they got there and stayed there. Who knows? Lol.

Bolivia! Incredible country. Some of the most incredible nature that I have come across and somewhere that I would definitely return to and explore some more if I ever have the time and money!

 

 

 

 

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What I Reckon: My Loathing Hatred Of Airports

Airports. Once upon a time so luxurious and lovely and flying was such a wonderful thing and blah blah blah. In this day and age of ‘terrorism’, low cost carriers, and the cheap flight battles, we have gotten to a point where flying is no longer a source of wonder and joy, but a pain in the arse. In the last two and a half months, I have been 9 times on a plane. In that time I have been screened with baggage about 3 times on average per flight, I have been patted down four times (cause lets face it, I must have magnetic tits when I am walking through the thing wearing practically nothing) and aggressively prodded in the pubic bone during manual search (ummmm…. if you ask someone to stop publicly prodding you in the vagina in an airport does this make you a terrorist with something to hide or must we endure it to get on the flight? Or do we need to subject ourselves to gloved-finger vaginal searches as well?).

Not only is the screening process a pain in the arse, but now baggage has also become one of these ordeals that you wind up paying out the arse for. I find myself standing in a queue with all my heavy toiletries in my jacket pockets, a computer down the back of my pants and all manner of other heavy things jammed in my bra while I am subjected to the weighing of hand luggage, by one of those transportable scales at the actual fucking gate. Don’t check people when they approach the front desk. Get them at the gate and if they are a hundred grams over tell them they have to check their bag and pay sixty fucking dollars for it.  Not only that but once upon a time it was ten kilograms and you could get a reasonable amount of stuff with you. Now it is seven kilograms, which is pretty much enough luggage to take a wheelie suitcase with not much at all in it. If I take my computer in that case, game over. Well unless I am graciously hiding it somewhere in my pants under a bulky jacket.

Airlines do not give a fuck about customer service these days either. It is perfectly acceptable to leave someone in the airport waiting for three and a half hours for a delayed flight, because ‘who fucking cares if you have somewhere you need to be?’ Oh and even better, those times when you have problems checking in online and when you arrive to the airport they kindly inform you that there is no space on the flight for you because you didn’t check in on time. ‘Well I fucking tried, but it’s your fault I am not checked in, it is your computer malfunction and I bought this ticket eight weeks ago!” Nah. Too bad. You find yourself standing in a line waiting to see if somebody else doesn’t show up so that you can get on the flight that they have oversold that you have already paid for. Fucking furious.

Or those times where you are sat on a plane on the runway without information for four hours while they faff about trying to cross reference a passenger list with luggage, which let’s face it, shouldn’t take four hours. Then the airline has the nerve to say ‘oh yeah, we can sell you some food’. People on that plane were going to cause a riot if their hangry selves didn’t get fed and as such the airline after facing a hoard of crazy customers decided to offer one snack and one drink complementary per person. By the time I got up to go and get my snack, it had gotten even more out of hand. It was like watching a new teacher try and manage thirty out of control teenagers as passengers took whatever they felt like from the cart that was more than just a sandwich and a drink. “Oh, but sir…..”. But guess what, sir doesn’t give a fuck and you clearly have no authority as to say no to him so he’s taking his five chocolate bars and four sandwiches and he’s off. As it was I wound up with two sandwiches, a chocolate bar and a drink. I do not feel bad. Whatever.

And don’t even get me started on people who walk slowly with their wheelie fucking suitcases in everyone’s way and taking up both sides of the escalator instead of being polite so that those of us in a hurry and who suffer crippling impatience can beat you to the immigration counter. The amount of people that I ran down in the Stansted Airport in London because of them being slow and in my way I can’t count. But then there was something about London, and London Airports especially, that transformed me into the largest kind of arsehole there ever was that lived.

Anyway, my point is, I hate airports. Fucking hate them. It is the part of travel that I loathe the most. I would rather take a bus and for the most part, I have done most of my cross-continental travels on the bus. Planes are only a necessity when going across water. The people who work there hate their lives and are rude. Security is a bitch at the best of times and depending on where you are, they can be so rigid that it takes forever. Even flight attendants these days seem to hate their jobs. The glamourous and fabulous experiences of the past are dead. Now everybody gets herded like cattle in a transport van, all jammed in at once into tiny seats with their knees around their heads so that they can sit uncomfortably and hungrily for hours without food and water unless you buy a ten dollar box of crackers or water, or manage to get an empty plastic bottle through that you can fill with hot water in the bathrooms because the arseholes don’t have a cold tap anywhere to encourage you to buy more plastic water bottles that end up in the oceans you fly over so we can watch the penguins choke on them. Exactly. Fuck the airport. The only good thing about it is that after dealing with two of them, you can leave for a while and go explore somewhere new until you have to go back again to go home. Ugh.