Doug McLean World Tour 1999-2000
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Sept. 24-Oct. 4, 2000:
Current Date/Location: Oct. 16, 2000 in La Paz, Bolivia.
Current Itinerary: Will be heading back towards Brazil tomorrow...must get
back to Recife by the 28th...to see Luciana...smile. Probably will head through
Brasilia for the weekend while on the way...did you hear that JULIANO!!!???
Smile...and will probably be touristy along the way...
September 24, 2000 (Sunday):
Woke happily in Sucre. Ready to be a tourist again and see the sights, as opposed to being stuck in the blockades. Walked around the lovely main square/plaza. There is some kind of truckers strike/action going on...there are trucks parked EVERYWHERE in this city right now...completely surrounding the square, down all the streets, really, EVERYWHERE. Walked around and saw all sorts of stuff...nice city. Tove, Helena, Boaz, Georg, and Ralph are all in the same hotel...just one big party...smile.
September 25, 2000 (Monday):
Today was a very cold, drizzly day...perfect for using the internet all day. I fired out tons of e-mail and tried to get caught-up on my old e-mails today...with some success. NOTE: There are LOTS of internet places in Bolivia...and I have yet to find one that doesn't have some little twerp who just downloaded from Napster the Brittany Spear's song, Whoops I did it Again! OK...I don't like the song that much to begin with...but let me tell you...after it hearing it played continuously EVERYWHERE I loathe, despise, and detest it. (NOTE: As I type this journal in La Paz, Bolivia...whoops, they just played it again not 2 minutes ago...ARRRRRGHHHHH!!!!).
Also watched some sort of demonstration on the plaza...people are not happy right now with the government in Bolivia. That is about all I did today.
September 26, 2000 (Tuesday):
The city market is across the street from my hostel...it is quite an interesting place. As you can imagine...lots of fruits and vegetables everywhere...making very pretty pictures...what isn't pretty is the raw meat laying out everywhere...ugh! I did find that they had some juice stands in the market...and that I could get fresh squeezed juices (apple, orange, coconut!, etc.) for about 30 cents a glass...smile...Bolivia is so cheap!
Visited convent of Santa Clara with Janne and Cissle from Norway. From Hammerfest, the Northern most city in the world. It was a great tour performed by a cute little nun...lots of artwork (yes, mostly of Jesus suffering...but, what else do you really expect?!), some old books, and a really cool old pipe organ. The nuns sold some really cool cards...that were handmade and had threaded stars...hard to explain but they were neat.
I think I didn't do much the rest of the day...can't remember...smile...oh yeah, there was probably a demonstration on the square today...pretty much daily now...
September 27, 2000 (Wednesday):
Went to travel agency with Tove and Helena and made reservation to go to LPB. Tove and Helena's plane was cancelled for today...so they took a later flight with the two Norwegian girls to connect into La Paz (LPB).
There were two other Norwegians at our hostel, Asbjorn and Kjerstin, who where going to be studying Spanish for 2 weeks in Sucre. They inspired me to do the same and I decided to take Spanish lessons...contacted and arranged for 3 hours of private tutoring per day...and canceled my reservation to LPB...figuring that I'd pay for classes rather than a flight to LPB...which was still, by the way, completely blockaded.
Met two Irish girls, Cara and Shawna and we hung out and talked out on the deck in the nice sunshine. The days right now are very nice...lows of 45F to highs of a sunny 68F...a little nippy, but basically very pleasant...could be much worse.
Decided that since I would definitely start taking classes I should be in a private room for studying. Talked to the owner of the hostel and got a better room. Watched lots of Spanish TV in my new room with TV and private bathroom...for less than $8 per day...gotta love Bolivia.
September 28, 2000 (Thursday):
Had my first private Spanish lesson with my teacher, Jorge, who is working on my grammar. Then I studied a while longer until my evening conversational lesson with Inez. Total of 3 hours per day seems to be a good amount.
There is a nearby high school theater competition going on every evening for the next week. I attended one of the plays tonight...the competition is free for all to attend...so I figured it would be good, cheap, interesting, and good Spanish practice...so I went. It was OK, but obviously amateur...hope tomorrow's play is better. Also, there is a touring play that is also going on, so for $2USD I got a seat for that show tonight too. It was much better, very professional, and well done. I think I will go to tomorrow show again...maybe seeing the same show will allow me to focus on the words...like watching a replay...smile...we'll see, I may be so bored tomorrow night that I fall asleep.
September 29, 2000 (Friday):
Had my class with Jorge in the afternoon...while sitting on the hotel's sunny deck. It was a great day to be outside...even if I was studying. Today was harder...working on Gerunds and the Direct Compliment in Spanish.
Inez and I talked for awhile. Then we went out to the market to practice Spanish. It was good, I learned a lot and enjoyed it.
Went that evening to see the play. This time, my Norwegian friend (Asbjorn) went as well to watch. I caught more of the dialogue this time...and it helped that we sat in the front row. Went back to the hotel, I watched some Spanish television...and crashed.
September 30, 2000 (Saturday):
Studied first thing in the morning...worked on reading and looking up any words I didn't know. Had my class with Jorge...worked on Gerunds, Direct Compliment and Indirect Compliment in Spanish...poco a poco (little by little).
Oct. 1-4, 2000:
OK...so I can't exactly remember exactly what happened in this time frame...so sue me! Smile...I studied a LOT! I ended up reading a basic (for 10-14 year-olds) book on the history of Bolivia. It was great because I read it with a dictionary...and looked up every word that I was not familiar with...this process greatly improved my vocabulary and comprehension. I really enjoyed my Spanish classes...and felt it took my skills to another level...making me very happy.
At some point I gave my laundry to the hotel laundry service...and got it back perfect...except for my baseball hat which was chewed-up by a dog!!! I was fairly pissed...but eventually (in the next couple of days) compromised by having them fix some pants of mine that needed patching and repair badly...thus making us all happy.
Sometime during my stay in Sucre, I discovered a great pizza place just off the main plaza. Now, the pizza was OK...but what really got me was the good Bolivian Coke! YES, this was the best place to score the BEST COKE IN TOWN! They kept the bottles refrigerated at the perfect temperature...frigid. Ahhh...every time I would order a bottle of Coke, I hade the exquisite ecstasy of opening it and watching it freeze at the top! Yes, I don't know what does it...the very cold freezer along with the high altitude or dry air (maybe one of my smart rocket-scientist friends could tell me)...but whatever it is...it was not frozen before opening...but afterwards, I had the enjoyment of those flaky ice-chips in my drink...ahhhh ...this place had the coldest, best Coke in all of Sucre...I became a regular during my stay...loving drinking my Coke with those perfect flakes of ice in it as I imbibed it with abandon!!!
There were many protests...all with lots of loud exploding fireworks...but basically, all of them were peaceful in Sucre. La Paz on the other hand was going nuts and had teargas in the streets daily. Also, the President started to operate with a stronger hand (using the army) and worked on opening the roads...this sometimes led to deaths. Probably 15-20 people were killed total around the country during these demonstrations and riots...none in Sucre that I know of...Sucre was on the perimeter of the problems.
Eventually, I heard that the roads to Potosi and Uyuni were open (during the days when enforced by the military...at night, they always got rocks thrown into them blocking them...smile). I had heard that the Uyuni Salt Flats were spectacular...so I figured I would try to get there. I bought a ticket to leave on the 5th of October...and got ready to again strap on the backpack and hit the trail.
I was happy that I had stopped and utilized my time to improve my Spanish, but was relishing the idea of moving again...trying to scratch my itchy traveling feet...