Solar Cooker. Prison – not

September 5, 2010 § Leave a comment

Since my arrival here in La Paz on Wednesday I stayed in a nice hostel and spent the days walking through La Paz. It took me 4 days to get used to the altitude, recover from the 42 hour flight and loose my jetlag. The air is really dry here and one needs to drink constantly, also to avoid headaches.

By chance one of my walks led me to the museum of instruments and music. In the courtyard of the old colonial building I found this here:

This is a paraboilic solar cooker, and one family that lives there told me they use it frequently for cooking. I asked them if there are many people in La Paz using such cookers, which would have surprised me because it’s in the middle of the city and there is probably not enough space for that. And their answeer was no, they seem to be the only ones. Re-newable energy in the courtyard of a music museum, really wired.

The following graphic I found in the museum and it shows the altitude profile of the Andes, in the middle you see Bolivia with altitudes ranging up to 6500 Meters. La Paz is at about 3500 Meters, the Salt Lake Salar de Uyuni where I’ll be at the end of next week is slightly higer.

 

A poster found in the museum, i like the typo.

A street festival in the centre of La Paz. Live music, tasty sausages and a big gorilla I photographed a thousand times.

I took this photo while some other guests from my hostel and me were on our way to San Pedro Prison. The prison lies in the centre of La Paz and is the biggest prison of the city and seems to be a whole microcosm, a whole small city in itself. They have shops and restaurants there, and the richer the inmates are the bigger their cells and the better their living standard is. Inmates are mostly murderers or drug dealers, but still many men live their together with their children and wifes. So far, so incredible and also dangerous – many inmates get killed by other inmates.

Other tourists had recommended the prison to us, but couldn’t give more information then that tours are only possible on sundays. So we entered the prison surrounded by a lot of police and then were asked to give cameras to the guards as these wouldn’t be allowed inside. Then they told us what we would have to pay, and though I had estimated a decent fee like 15 Dollars or so (which is quite a lot here) they asked for 400 Bolivianos (1 Euro=9 Bolivianos)! Which equals 55 Dollars or 45 Euros. I then decided not to do the tour, because 400 Bolivianos is almost the budget for half a week here…I really found it ridiculous to pay so much money, especially as by bolivian standards 400 Bolivianos must feel like 200 Dollars for them. Anyways, 2 girls made the 2 hours tour and later said that it was really intense, though the best thing happened at the end of the tour: they were asked to tip the guards and were more or less forced to again give some more Bolivianos. The other question would be if one should pay to see other people suffer in a prison.  Probably a good thing that I ended up not doing the tour.

In the meantime I had returned to the hostel and joined thehostel  staff that was making a BBQ on the roof terrace of the hostel.

Most of the people that work here in the hostel are backpackers from around the world, but mostly australian or  irish. They usually work a few weeks here and sleep and eat for free.

Must be an exhausting time because I think most of them either work at night at the hostel bar or they hang out there drinking for free.

But seems to be a  fun job!

I’m waiting for the accreditation to visit the lithium plant in Rio Grande / Salar de Uyuni, thus I will travel to another important mining town first: Potosi.In the 17th century, Potosi used to be one of the biggest cities in the world, comparable to London and Paris. This was because of immense silver deposits which were exploited by the Spanish then. Now it’s a rather poor place, were still very many miners work under bad conditions for low salaries. The next travel update with some more informations on Potosi will come next week.

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