Bloqueos Stink

After two days in the highlands of southern Bolivia, we received a call over the radio — return to Tarija immediately. There were protests scheduled for the next day and the city would essentially be paralyzed. The taxi drivers and all social servants were going to create a “bloqueo¬¥¬¥ or blockage of all major roads to make their point. I¬¥ve been asking what that point was for more than a day now, and coincidentally no one truly knows. Bolivia is a hotbed of political unrest these days and when the home office says “come home now,¬¥¬¥ there isn¬¥t much time to ask why. You just drive, quickly and alertly through the night to avoid the unrest and get within the city limits before the chaos begins.
We did just that and it was an exhausting experience. From San Lucas, at 10,000 feet in the Andes, we were 7 hours from Tarija. That´s 7 hours of dusty, dangerous switchback driving that is not fun during the day when you can see the giant bus coming toward you and even more nerve-wracking at night when you just have to cross your fingers and hope for the best. Thank God we made it back in one piece.
I spent most of yesterday sleeping, eating and enjoying hot showers. I am not used to political anything. Honestly, most Americans don´t vote. So to see these people in the streets once we got within city limits was a bit terrifying. Thankfully, all has calmed down today and the president (remind me to discuss exactly what I think of Mr. Evo one day) called off the protest last night.
So, here I am, safe in the city, working away. Alas, yesterday we were supposed to have spent the day in Potosi, one of the largest silver mines in the world. I had dreams of new earrings and a pretty cross. Another day I suppose.
Friday I travel to the capital city of La Paz where my friend Alma and I will meet. From there, we´ll be off to Lake Titicaca (yes Beavis and Butthead fans, that place actually exists!), before traveling to Peru and Ecuador. I am quite tired of discussing disease and poverty in each moment of the day and a bit of vacation sounds lovely at this point. I get to the point where I´ve been so bombarded with information and new experiences that I dream about them at night and can´t seem to escape the work. I´m simply ready for a break after nearly two very intense weeks of work on the road.
I promise loads of photos when I return. I can´t wait to share the beauty of Bolivia with you soon.


10 Replies to “Bloqueos Stink”

  1. Wow! I’m glad you made it back to the city safe & sound. That sounds a bit intense, to say the least. Enjoy Lake Titicaca – I’ve always thought the pics were amazing so I can’t wait to see yours!

    You’ll need a vacation for sure after this trip! I hear Minnesota is lovely this time of year….


  2. Can’t wait to see the photos!

    Don’t you remember when all those shrimp boat guys got all pissed at the Mexican gov’t and blockaded the exit from Rocky Point so all the Americans would be stuck there? People definitely express their displeasure differently outside the US.

  3. Thank you thank you thank you to whoever or whatever brought you back to your home office safely. Jesus, Allah, Vishnu, fate, luck, Beavis, finger-crossing, whatev.

    Enjoy your time vacationing and continue to be careful (as I know you always are). I look forward to hanging out with you in one piece in just a few weeks.


  4. Glad you’re safe. And please stay that way. Your description of the trip down the mountains brought back many a terrifying trip on the Pune/Bombay Road. Yikes! Guard rails? Double yellow lines? Passing zones? Those are for sissies! Darn about the silver mine! But enjoy your break from disease and poverty. It will be waiting for you (unfortunately) when you are done decompressing.

  5. Wow! Such an adventure. I’m so glad that you are safe. And that you’ve been able to shower 🙂 Have a great time on your travels to Peru & Ecuador.

  6. Hola Kelli! me alegro que estes bien, and yes! the bloqueos stink! i lived something similar…people was all in the street and we was in a car and they was angry… and we are chilean, and they don’t love us…

    I’m happy about you vacation time… it’s time! enjoy!
    a hug for you…

  7. i’ll be glad when you get home. don’t want you caught up in any protests or anything. enjoy your time, but c’mon back, soon!

  8. My brother and his family lived in Boliva for 4 years. I have heard him speak many times about the protests. Scary – STAY SAFE

  9. So glad you are safe…and in a nice warm shower again. Sorry things have gotten so “drawn out” for you. How much longer?

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