Thursday, December 27, 2007

Sucre

Having been exposed to the cat (and donkey) walk of Bolivia TZ and her new Aussie friend Marissa went on the prowl for some haute couture ...
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They tried on various outfits posing this way and that...
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...until finally they discovered the Donatella Versace of Bolivia who kitted them up with a brand new set of hair extensions.
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With hair extensions successfully attached, the Aussie troupe left Potosi and headed for Sucre in a taxi.
Our first impression of Sucre was this amazing castle which marks the border between the two provinces.
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Our second (and lasting) impression was this toilet with a sophisticated water pale flush system...
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One Sunday, we went to the Tarabuka markets an hour out of Sucre. We walked around looking at range of weavings, jewellery and trinkets before somehow landing up in the non-gringo area of the markets. Things were very different in this part. Here they sold offering trays –an odd collection of herbs, incense, Christian and pagan symbols and of course a mandatory llama foetus. Many people buy these offerings to use during their weavings to bring them luck, good health and fortune.
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Indigenous Bolivians belong to many different groups, most easily distinguished by their dress and the style of their weaving.
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In all cases the females carry their children on their back using a colourful weaved blanket. The children are carried by their mothers in this fashion even when they are toddlers. Look at the size of this whopper...
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The mothers themselves range in age from teenagers to infirm octogenarians. We suspect this is a by-product of the people's commitment to the Catholic prohibition on condoms.
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During our time in Sucre a milestone was reached. An incident we now refer to as "The Hanson". For the past few months Jez had heard the phrase "same length" whispered over and over like demonic chanting. He had woken at night to find his wife whispering this phrase in his ear but could not understand her meaning or motive. Driven almost to distraction he begged to be released from this curse and was told the price ... he was to have a HAIRCUT and the bogan mullet was to be banished.
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A barber was located and Jez was lead to the sacrificial altar. His wife whispered to the high priest, whose eyes shone with a crazy lust, before reaching into his collection of voodoo tools and extracting a pair of garden shears which he subsequently sterilised using a naked flame. Jez began muttering about not removing more than a centimetre or so. His wife gently reassured him that the long locks, of over two inches that were falling about his feet were actually only a few millimetres in length, but appeared deceptively long due to the humidity in Sucre. Being a blindly devoted husband Jez entered the logic free zone normally inhabited by his wife and acquiesced.
It was only when the barber was finished, and he burst out laughing and pointed at his victim, repeating over and over the words "Hanson, Hanson!" that Jez returned from his loving reverie, to discover that his relationship was more akin to Samson and Delilah than Romeo and Juliet.IsaacHanson
Nothing could placate the distraught Jez. Even an offer of his wife's new hair extensions.
The fact that the barber had even heard of Hanson was a bit strange in itself, but as you can see from the photo above, Jez now sports a bob haircut that makes him look like a swarthy imitation of one of the members of this boy pop group. It was on New Years eve that we were to discover Bolivia´s love affair with Hanson. Click to see TZ celebrating her victory to the tune of Hanson´s mmmBop!
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When not paying tribute to Hanson, Marissa and TZ entertained the boys with feats of strength...
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...taunts about the length of our hair and good old fashion table top dancing...
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Jez took the opportunity to hail in the new year by partaking in the lawlessness that is Sucre. He bought some fireworks and exploded them in the main square. Later while walking back to our hostel a bunch of crazy kids showed us the true meaning of lawlessness when they threw fireworks at us.
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A few days after New Years we were woken by some almighty explosions which lasted through the night. We were aware that some recent protests had left 3 Bolivians dead, the police force ransacked, and the town devoid of law and order. Jez tried to reassure TZ that it was probably the same kids taunting some hapless gringos with their leftover fireworks.
In the morning we discovered the truth. The street was a mess of burnt out cars and uprooted telephone boxes as a result of an impromptu protest. The people of Sucre had heard that the justice minister was in town, and decided to burn whatever they could get their hands on in order to make their grievances heard. Sucre is the constitutional capital of Bolivia, housing the judicial system, but the government sits in La Paz, bringing much status and wealth to that city. The Sucre-maniacs had the great idea that if they could burn enough stuff the government would see the error in its ways and return to Sucre. The protest was successful in keeping the minister holed up in the Supreme Court until 6AM (at which time we could thankfully go back to sleep), and teaching us about lobbying Bolivian style, but probably little else...

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