Reading by the Lake

One thing that Isla del Sol in Lake Titicaca is missing is a library or a bookshop. Because it’s a perfect place to read. Luckily, I never go on a trip without a few books in my backpack.

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Where else can you lay down in the soft grass next to an Inca palace (Pillkukayna) with a view of a dark blue lake, a green island (Isla de la Luna) and snow-covered mountains?

This was my view:

Pillkukayna Isla de  la Luna.JPGIsla de la Luna Kordilleren.JPG

From the following day, the clouds were gone and I had an even better view of the Cordillera mountain ranges beyond the shore of Lake Titicaca.

(Auf Deutsch.)

Posted in Bolivia, Books, Photography, Travel | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Aggression on the Playground

If I correctly interpreted this sign in Salvador in Brazil, it’s asking children to fight with each other.

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I also found it troublesome that the boy is kicking the girl, cementing negative gender stereotypes.

(Auf Deutsch.)

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The Bolivian Ladies keep Climbing

You remember the Bolivian ladies who climbed Huayna Potosi?

Well, these ladies were not satisfied with conquering one mountain above 6,000 meters. They have set out to climb eight mountains in Bolivia, each of them higher than 6,000 meters.

This week they climbed Illimani (6,439 meters).

I have been in La Paz for more than a week now, admiring the view of truly imposing Illimani every day.

illimani-la-paz

But the weather has been tough, with rain, storms and a bitter cold all week. It was cold enough for me to postpone my hiking plans, and I hadn’t even planned to go all the way to the top.

Respect for the ladies (they are between 42 and 50) who had no such qualms. But once you are above the clouds, you don’t need to worry about rain anyway.

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(Zur deutschen Fassung.)

Posted in Bolivia, Feminism, Travel | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Who gets to travel?

At the hostel La Casona in Potosí, Bolivia, there was this world map in the reception office, indicating where many of the visitors had come from. (Click to enlarge.)

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It’s obvious that many Bolivians would travel within their own country, just as visitors from neighboring South American states will drop by or pass through. The empty spaces on the map of South America are largely areas where not many people live, like the Amazon rainforest.

This map in one hostel in one city in Bolivia is not representative at all, but for the rest of the world, this map mainly shows where people have (1) money, (2) a passport which is useful for traveling, and (3) nothing else to worry about.

Many visitors from the United States and Canada, but millions more from Europe. In Asia the main source countries are Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. From Africa, almost only South Africa. From the Middle East, mainly Israel (maybe the one place where reason no. 3 is to escape from the things at home that one would need to worry about).

China and India, by far the two most populous countries in the world, are completely underrepresented. So is Russia. And almost all of Africa. Although, to be fair, many refugees from Africa and the Middle East get to “travel” quite a bit, and under much more adventurous circumstances than any “backpacker” can claim.

So what do you make of this?

Posted in Bolivia, Maps, Philosophy, Travel | Tagged , | 6 Comments

The real WALL-E lives in Bolivia

Posted in Bolivia, Films, Technology | Tagged , | 1 Comment

How Brazilians reacted to the Impeachment

First reactions from the streets of Brazil after the news broke that Congress had voted to initiate an impeachment proceeding against President Dilma Rousseff:

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“What do you mean: politics? impeachment? president? – I just want carnival and football!”

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“They are starting to investigate Petrobras. Quick, let’s cover up the bribes!”

7-1 Scolari Löw

“Congratulations on your political system, Mr Löw.” – “You need to start a world war and destroy the whole continent. Then the Americans will come, save your ass and build a proper democracy for you, too.”

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“I am no longer important. Boohooo.”

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“You greedy bastard politicians! You stole the oil, you stole the jobs, you stole the taxes, you stole the pensions! All I have left is this T-shirt and I will fight to my death to keep it!”

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“My parents said we won’t get a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.”

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“None of this matters. At least we are still a multi-ethnic, non-racist country and that is something we can be proud of!”

7-1 Scolari

“Can this be true? Maybe I won’t be the most-hated person in Brazil forever.”

Posted in Brazil, Germany, Politics, Sports | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Easily Confused (57) Coup in Brazil

1889, that was a coup when the military toppled the Brazilian emperor Pedro II and forced him into exile.

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1964, that was a coup which lead to 20 years of military dictatorship.

brasilien-putsch-1964

2016, that is, contrary to some angry rhetoric and calls of “coup” and “putsch”, nothing of the sort.

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It is an impeachment proceeding permitted by the constitution. True, it is a huge circus in which corrupt and criminal politicians are trying to impeach another politician who has not been charged with corruption by making allegations about accounting tricks which are the least of Brazil’s problems. True, it is sad for Brazilian democracy that parliamentarians explain their vote with references to their families, gods, the military dictatorship, the fight against communism or in one case “for peace in Jerusalem”. True, Brazil’s congress revealed itself in this vote as an even greater embarrassment than the national soccer team (at least President Rousseff did not lose the vote by a margin of 7 to 1). True, there are a few crazies in Brazil who want a military government. True, the mood is quite heated and the level of political debate is in a bottomless pit.

But none of this constitutes a coup or a putsch.

Rather, it is a symptom of many of the things which are in disorder in Brazil. But now the world realizes the chaos that Brazilians – at least those who wanted to see it – knew all along. Unfortunately though, and this is only one of the many causes, while millions of households advanced into the economic middle class during the years of the oil boom, there was no equally fast and widespread growth of a politically active and educated class. Nor of a differentiated and non-partisan media landscape (only Globo, Globo, Globo everywhere). And thanks to the Football World Cup and the Olympic Games, the Lula administration could make ample use of the circus part of the age-old “panem et circenses” strategy and thus distract from economic malaise. But none of these are problems that are unique to Brazil.

But one thing does apply in particular to a country with Brazil’s history: One should be careful with words like “coup” or “putsch”. No need to conjure anything up. And after all, terms like “completely fucked up” are absolutely sufficient to describe the political situation in Brazil.

(Hier gibt es diesen Kommentar auf Deutsch.)

Posted in Brazil, History, Language, Politics | Tagged | 2 Comments