There must be another update
I got another haircut. Will try and stop making all these ruminations so folically focused.
It was a good haircut though. Barber is Cusco knows his way around a head. Used a pressurised air hose of the kind I last seen blowing up cat tyres to clear out hair cuttings from the ever tricky back of neck/tshirt nexus. 20soles/£5 and few words and twenty minutes were all it took.
Two anecdotes from Bolivia
We were in Bolivia for nearly a month. The persistent height of the Andes renders the entire place colder than I expected and lacking oxygen in necessary quantities.
It’s also the poorest country on the continent and the contrast to Chile was constant in terms of the quality of the roads, the age of the vehicles, the ease of comparing with our home countries.
But within that there is a multitude of course. Time for two illustrative anecdotes!
One of the finest meals I have eaten. A restaurant opened by the people who did Noma in Copenhagen which has been appearing towards the top of various ‘best restaurant in the world’ lists for a few years now.
The place was opened with some fine social progress through fine food notion which it has struggled to live up to in ways. There is a decent long write up on the place here – Fine Dining For A Better World
Local staff and local ingredients are overseen by European management.
The food was incredible – as good as any of my most egregious dining out experiences in London.
But the place was mostly empty the evening we were there. More staff than diners.
80% of customers are non-Bolivian which reflects the ambition/madness of the idea of opening a restaurant like this in La Paz and also hints at how it can feel weird.
Like a displaced island of floating metropolitan euro-chic washed up in a city that can barely breath.
Paddys day in La Paz
The traveling experience is one largely of interaction with fellow European or North American travellers. The reality is that the vast majority of interaction with the people of the counties one visits are short interactions with service staff at hostels/bars/laundries/taxi drivers.
This tendency is probably exaggerated in Bolivia where the general economic disparity between us feckless travelers and the general populace is greater than in other Latin American counties.
And so to a small universe created on a street in la Paz from an “Irish” hostel called the Wild Rover; “the worlds highest st Patrick’s day party”.
In our defence;
- We got free nights accommodation because of what passport we carry
- I maintain we were there as part of an anthropological research project
- Sometimes one must embrace the cliche reductions of your origin
There was a parade which involved walking around a block with lots of Ole Ole-ing.
Over 50% of the people in the overflowing all day bar were Irish, about 40% other westerners come to participate in the re-informing of the stereotypes. There were some floating interested and interesting Bolivians.
At one stage 500 baby Guinness’s (Guinni?) were lined up on the bar in what people assumed was a beneficent gift from the Irish hostel to its constantly spending borderline alcoholic patrons, but it turned out they had to be paid for. Which felt like it summarized something to me.
There was a Bolivian cover band who played the Hives, which was fun, and made about as much sense as the rest of the thing.