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Bolivia: A Cement Obelisk and Frozen Water Balloons

Cities and towns were on the mind of a handful of Bolivian bloggers this week. In December of 2006, the city of Cochabamba rolled out the red carpet and played host to a summit for South American presidents. In honor of the occasion, some of the local lawmakers proposed to commemorate the gathering by constructing a giant obelisk somewhere in the city’s center. Some of them also theorized that this would be a boom to local tourism in spite of its estimated Bs. 4,000,000 (approximately $500,000 USD) price tag.

Fadrique Iglesias Mendizábal finds the idea absurd. In his blog El Clavo en el Zapato [ES] (the Nail in the Shoe), he said the proposal does not quite add up.

¿Alguien de verdad en su sano juicio o con un poquito de sentido común se cree que en un país alucinante para el turismo, con lugares alrededor como Samaipata, Chiquitos, Tiwanaku, La Paz, Coroico, Toro Toro, Copacabana, el Salar, Sucre, Potosí, Noel Kempf, etc, etc, etc, un paseante, por más engañado que esté, va a modificar su hoja de ruta para ver un trozo de cemento, so pretexto de ser el más grande se Sudamérca?.

Could someone with a sane mind and a little bit of common sense actually believes that in a country with such impressive tourism spots such as Samaipata, Chiquitos, Tiwanaku, La Paz, Coroico, Toro Toro, Copacabana, the Salar (de Uyuni), Sucre, Potosí, Noel Kempf, etc., etc., etc., think that a traveler, no matter how misled he might be, would change his route to see a cement tower, whose sole pretext is that it is the largest in South America?

Iglesias Mendizábal thinks there are other worthwhile attractions in Cochabamba, and perhaps the giant obelisk wouldn’t be all that it is cut out to be.

Pero pensemos, ¿qué es lo que puede atraer a un turista de Cochabamba?
Digamos que la diversidad natural, el clima, la comida, la riqueza intelectual y sus artístas, el legado etnocultural, la arqueología, las fiestas populares (Urkupiña, Feria del Pescado, Manzana, Charango, Chicha, Wayllunka, etc.) ; como ven motivos sobran tenemos una cultura realmente rica, pero latente y casi enterrada. Más rica que un pampacu de Vinto.

We should think, ‘what could attract a tourist to Cochabamba?’ Perhaps it might be the natural diversity, the climate, the food or the intellectual richness , and its artists. Perhaps it might be the ethnocultural legacy, the archaeology, the popular festivals, such as Urkupiña, the Fish, Peach, Apple, Charango, Chicha, or Wayllunka festivals. We really have a rich culture, but it is almost overlooked. It is more rich than a pampacu from Vinto.

He laments that the city is falling behind other Bolivian cities that have launched cultural initiatives like book fairs and film festivals.

Evelin Torrico, a resident of Santa Cruz, recently returned to her querida llajta (beloved homeland) and her annual visit to Cochabamba. Among its unique charms is the abundance of food and opportunities to eat – up to six times per day. She writes in her blog, Mis Locuras [ES] that it has a small town, where everything is a short walk away. However, she also recognizes that water balloons are out in full effect in a lead up to Carnaval.

Eso sí OJO!….desde la anterior semana que estaban mojando con globos…fui el domingo con mis primos y empezaron a llegar globazos de todos los lados….al principio los maldecía, les gritaba enojada “ocioooosos de miii…rrrthaa!!” jiji pero lueeeeego…hasta nos compramos a 1bs los 10globos cargados con agua, y empezamos la batalla entre los autos que pasaban con sus francotiradores, y nosotros en la acera jijij…peeeeeero con mi siempre maravillosa punteria no le dí a ni uno!!! ..y bueno…así, dicen que las primeras semanas es “sano” pq despues comienzan a lanzar globos congelados…..ttrrrrtrrrr qué dolor!!!

Be attentive. Since last week, everyone is out with water balloons. I went out with my cousins last Sunday and water balloons were incoming from everywhere. At first I cursed at them, but then later, we bought 10 water balloons for Bs. 1 (approximately $0.12 USD). The battle began with the cars that passed by with their snipers. We were standing on the sidewalk, but with my sharp aim, I didn’t hit a single one! … They say that the first weeks are safer because later they start throwing frozen water balloons. Oh, the pain!

These two bloggers wrote about their home town of Cochabamba, one of the major urban centers in the interior of the country. Another blogger named Joup recently embarked on an adventure to a small town called Urubichá in the department of Santa Cruz, for a work project involving the famous orchestra and chorus from the area. Complete with a rickety bus, interesting characters that stepped on and off the bus that seemed to stop every few feet to pick up new passengers, and members of FELCC (Special Force Against Crime) aka the police, and a near-miss accident, Joup and her traveling companions finally reached their destination.

Finally, Marco, a Tarija-based blogger from Pandemónium [ES] wrote one sentence aimed at generated discussion. He asks, “What if Evo (President Morales) died today?” As a result, a dozen or so comments responded with their take on hypothetical events. Some would fear that current vice-president Alvaro Garcia Linera might be even more negative for the country. Some joked that Morales’ ghost would come back to haunt, while others feared total anarchy.

This time, last year: After a comment asking whether all Bolivian blog articles only relate to politics, we took a look at some of the different types of Bolivian blogs. Literary, technology and photo blogs all take prominent roles in the growing Bolivian blogosphere.

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