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 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 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.
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.)
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!