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Posts Tagged ‘poverty’

A brother and sister sell flowers in the streets of Montevideo to earn their daily bread

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My friend Epa - living rough in Santa Ana, El Salvador

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A beautiful abandoned schoolhouse in Tokomaru Bay, New Zealand

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La Boca, Buenos Aires

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An open-air kitchen on the Uros (floating reed islands) in Lake Titicaca, Peru

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I find myself in Bolivia at last. The people seem far more timid than the Argentinians but very kind once they warm to you. The food is much better than expected although I’ve been sick in some way almost every day since crossing the border – alternating between screaming headaches and a nauseous belly. My discomfort is owed primarily to the altitude which is an absolute bitch.

The first few days we spent in Tupiza where I came to terms (painfully) with the initial jump in altitude (to about 3000m) and did a bum-smacking short horse trek. Now, after much umming and ahhing over which company to choose, we set off on the much-anticipated and very famous 4-day jeep tour of southern Bolivia which culminates in the bizarre Salar de Uyuni (the worlds largest and highest salt flat). This part of the country ranges from 3500 – 5000m AKA bloody high!!

I jot notes in my journal in stationery moments or as I am bounced around the back seat of the jeep:

Day 1
6:30pm. Day one of the tour was a mix of breath-taking scenery, struggling-for-breath altitudes, and gut-twisting cold. We arrived in San Antonio about an hour ago and went for a short stroll around the tiny pueblo as the sun set. The town consists of a handful of mud-brick houses with thatched straw rooves at the base of an impending snow-capped volcano, 6-hours drive from nowhere.

Forgotten Daughter, Bolivia

From the central “plaza” (nothing more than a small dusty square of street) a loudspeaker barks information periodically. This is the only mechanism for communication with the outside world in a town without telephones, newspapers, or even electricity.
The children are friendly and grubby, with frozen-snot noses and cheeky smiles. They have such age in their eyes, in their faces – it’s disarming. One boy in a turquoise sweater and roman sandals shyly approached as we chatted with his outgoing young friend. He must have been no more than 13 but somehow looked closer to 40 – his eyes were knowing, his skin aged.
A delightful family of hermanas let us take their photo… for a price of course. I have never before met such charming hustlers.

Day 2
11:08am. I am sitting in paradise – Laguna Hediona, in the deserted bottom end of Bolivia. I sit on a shore of tiny volcanic rocks looking out across the small, perfectly formed lake to snow-capped peaks and rose-coloured mountains. Flamingos congregate in the shallows.

The shore of Laguna Colorado, Bolivia

This landscape is epic. It makes you feel utterly tiny and yet completely a part of this magnificent planet. I feel as if I am seeing the world for the very first time, wondering at the exquisite beauty of it all. Like this morning, when the world was frosted in the most magnificent jewels. Whole mountains sparkled. The ice shines like diamonds, all the more precious for their impermanence.
12:44pm. I have a killer headache, from the altitude. It feels as if my head is about to explode. I am chewing coca, a leaf that is very popular with the locals. It tastes like grass, unpleasant to say the least, but seems to help.
4:34pm. Mobs of hot-pink flamingos dancing across a ruby-and-white swirled lake, skirted by emerald and gold moss banks, and watched over by earth and rock mountains. …

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Young girl in San Antonio, Bolivia

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