Welf's Guestbook



14th April 2015
Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz de la Sierra it's the zone of Bolivia that has more white population, according to statistics. Some also say it's the home of the hottest chicks in South America...
14th April 2015
Church in Santa Cruz

Bolivia has a very cool Colonial arcuitecture, specially in La Paz. They don't have the earthquake problem, like us. Good for them.
14th April 2015
Painting in Santa Cruz

Interesting painting. I've just noticed the presence of both a fascio (on the right) and a phrygian hat (on the left), a typical symbol for the jacobins. Funny.
12th April 2015

Problems in certain areas in South America
The larger problem I see in South America is going to remote, isolated areas, abdicating all comforts, especially if in the poorer countries – in the 3 Americas, Haiti is the poorer country and Bolivia is the second. The problem in those areas are A) the transportation; B) accommodation; C) food choice. Depending on what someone chooses to do the issue “health” is implied, can guarantee bad consequences – and problems. Hostels that are not well clean, dirty busses and food without hygiene on the streets can result in health problems of all kinds. I don’t deny this happens abroad. A girl who travelled with me to Germany felt horrible in all possible ways in Germany, headache, stomach, didn’t go out for nothing because she ate a Chinese food at the train station in Halle. At the end, for her, was like “the cheap which became expensive”, as we say in Brazil, simply because she solved to try Chinese food (I didn’t, I totally disliked the looks of the place) as she was “tired of so much boring German food” and also because she wished to save a bit more of money at the end of the travel…… She regretted totally. These situations happen abroad, yes. But the chance of this to happen at Paraguay and Bolívia are higher. In those countries is not a matter of freshness, snobbism, wishing to only see the good side of life, but of self-preservation. Is not my kind of travel, but I try to understand those who taken by an adventurous wish to go to the poorest, more isolated areas to see how the poor live - *but* the person needs to understand that if does so, is running a serious risk. Period. Those areas have no infrastructure (in this involved health, sanitarian measures). I never had those problems in Brazil because I know where to go, because NEVER eat street food and other cares….. Only time I had a problem was when I was 13 years and tried a sausage on the streets (meats are more dangerous most of the times than fruits or vegetables), resulting in a heavy allergy on my whole body which almost killed me and “closed” my throat, suffocating me. And nobody needs going to wonderful, sophisticated places in order to have a good food: there are simple places, but with hygiene – where people don’t touch food with their hands (a habit common in Bolivia, influenced by local culture). One thing is someone eating at a trending truckfood, the other is eating a suspicious barbecue at a stand. There are places, popular, here which I enjoy as the markets on the Tower TV in Brasília, but I know the sellers have a number of cares and here there is an organ called Sanitary Vigilance, which verifies the hygiene of the goods. But on the streets, there is no guarantee… Several years ago, I had a maid from a poor zone in Brasília, who told me that her neighbour sold kind of a meat close to the bus station and she told me: “I pity so much people who walk there and buy one of her goods. I see every day what she does: she cleans the food on the same water where she previously cleans the panties of her daughters”. And so…. All of this can generate a very seriously health problem. I knew people who travelled the whole South America in the past, when they were around 18. They wished to see the “Socialism”, “Guevara stuff” (by the way those amuse me a lot – they are the same whites from middle class who preaches rights for the blacks and homosexuals without knowing that Guevara was racist and totally against homosexuals LOL), but even they took some measures to avoid problems. It was not enough: at the hostels some were stole, others had heavy food intoxication and more and more…. Today they face this as a youth adventure and wouldn’t do it anymore, not because they are accommodate, but because most of the people (this is proved by Psychology) get more exigent over the years. I’m no different from this – I am aware, though, there are some exceptions who are adventure for the rest of their lives – and there were things I did when I was 21 (some I enjoy the remembrance, others not) that today at 39 I think “I don’t believe I did this. I would never do this again anymore. I don’t imagine myself doing this again”. And so I think after some age we need to take some cares, because wanting or not aging and death comes to all. We need to take care. Chagas disease, for example, common in rural areas, isolated, in Brasil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Peru are spread mostly in places like camping and hostels. People I know in general don’t have the interest to go to Bolívia or Paraguay because a plane ticket to Europe and USA is far cheaper for us than a ticket to neighbour countries (exception goes to Argentina and Uruguay) and because as we are from here we are very aware of the several problems involving health in neighbour countries – most of the times is not for the wish to please aesthetical sense, but for pure prudence. The Staphylococcus Aureus you got, probably in a bus in Paraguay or in Ciudad del Leste (a very dirty city from Paraguay) is more serious than the bacteria usually present in pneumonias – this is what the Brazilian doctor I talked to told me and for sure the Bolivian doctor told you). Spreads through the air and stays at the body from 3 to 20 days until the symptoms appear. The doctor here told me the treatment lasts around 15 days (and if it wasn’t diagnosed on time it would spread through heart and blood, causing heart failure). Can be contagious, if someone infected coughs by the side of someone (but around 15 days you will be ok) and that is necessary to be very CAREFUL with going to highlands in Bolívia and Peru. He told me “I don’t like to give a diagnoses for someone I didn’t see. But I would recommend to be careful in the highlands of Bolívia or Peru, cause if an individual with normal health feels the difference, someone with low immunity, coming from a debilitation will feel much more. If the person in this situation intends to go to those areas even in that situation, so I would recommend the maximum of cares, avoid extreme physical efforts, long walks, unless wish to have a bad surprise”. So, take care of yourself…………………. Even because we will meet on next month xoxoxoxo
12th April 2015

Health in Bolivia X Brasil X South America
It is necessary to clarify some myths concerning Medicine in Bolívia. Of course there are doctors which are very good on what they do and others who are not - in Bolívia or any place in the world. The good side is that you were lucky to find a good doctor and that – for that region! Including Paraguay, Bolivia and other poorer neighboor countries – Medicine in Santa Cruz de la Sierra is good. But is not wonderful or international reference. The profile of boys and girls from Brazil who study Medicine in Bolivia consists of a youth from North and Northeast regions (mostly from Maranhão State) who not obtain minimum points to be approved on Brazilian “Vestibular” (is a test, a selection students in all areas do including all content taught during high school in order to verify if someone has conditions to go to university – I did Vestibular once, in 1994, to verify if I was able to study Social Communication at the University and I was approved). Courses like Medicine, Odontology, Law, Architecture, Social Communication and the several Engineers are very disputed and so the candidate must study a lot, like 16 hours a day (no joke…) because it is thousands running for 30 or 40 vacations per University… And if someone applies for the best, more renewed Universities, like University of Brasília or University of São Paulo (which require maximum punctuation on their tests, than the person sometimes studies for 2 or 3 years until being approved….. The Public Universities are more searched than the Private Universities here, because the teaching at a Public University is excellent, with professors with the best graduations, people who have, for example, PHD in Physics in Germany, for example. And so, some don’t like to wait studying for years until being approved and prefer to do Medicine at Bolívia or Cuba (to Cuba go those members from the MST, they go with a clear political purpose). That’s when their problems start. Some enjoy the teaching in Bolívia, others don’t (there are reports of students who said the professor gets delayed on classes, don’t apply enough content, approves students based in corruption…) and when they come back to Brazil in most of the cases they can’t exercise their profession in Brazilian soil…….. Why? Because the Brazilian Ministry of Education applies a test for Brazilians who went to a University abroad called “Revalida”. This test values for any area of knowledge – and in other countries the validation process is no different for foreigners. If I studied Jornalism abroad and came back to Brazil I would need to do this Revalida. The point is those who study Medicine in Bolívia and Cuba are, the majority, Reproved in this Revalida (i.e. can’t be doctors in Brazil, unless they want to be illegal and it’s a crime to exercise Medicine in illegal way). There are stories about people who spent the amount of U$ 10,000 simply because they cant be approved on the Revalida, they must travel to Brasília to do the test and with translation of documents. The thing is, students who did a graduation in Europe or USA are like 99% approved by the Revalida, while those from Bolívia are not………… If someone who did a course at Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford is approved at the Revalida and a student who did the same course in Bolívia or Cuba is not………. Then, obviously there’s something very wrong and the quality of teaching in Cuba and Bolívia is not the same as in other countries…... More than this, is the myth of Cuban Medicine going down, demolished by statistics. Here are some news (in Portuguese) about students from Bolívia and Cuba reproved in Brazil when they wish to transfer their diplomas: http://g1.globo.com/mato-grosso/noticia/2013/07/ufmt-aprova-apenas-um-entre-508-diplomas-de-medicina-da-bolivia.html (UFMT, a public Brazilian university at Center Region, approved only one among the 508 diplomas obtained in Bolívia) http://opiniao.estadao.com.br/noticias/geral,medicos-reprovados-imp-,661301 (on another selection, from 628 only 2 with diplomas from Bolivia were approved) http://noticias.terra.com.br/educacao/revalida-com-92-reprovados-cfm-cobra-rigor-com-medicos-de-fora,d34d67560b19c310VgnVCM4000009bcceb0aRCRD.html (92% of 884 reproved in 2013. Those who were approved studied Medicine at Argentina, Uruguay, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Italy, France, Poland) Now imagine a person studying abroad, spending time (6 years) and money (because in Bolivia university is private, paid), coming back and being not able to have the career they chose……. Contrary to Bolívia, Brazil IS international reference in Medicine (not only in plastic surgery, a speciality Brazil is famous for, attracting sub-celebrities from the world). Brazil is reference in treatment of AIDS, transplant of medulla (bone marrow) and tissues, surgery for burnt, etc. Brazil has very good hospitals among that 6,000 that belong to the Brazilian Health System, being 24 considered international pattern centres, having the most important hospital certification in the world, given by the Joint Comission International : in São Paulo, the Samaritan Hospital, the German Oswaldo Cruz, the Israeli Albert Einstein and the Syrian-Lebanese, the Heart Hospital (if I needed, would trust much more on those, than in hospitals from abroad); Moinhos de Vento, Hospital of the Child Santo Antônio and Hospital of Clinics, in Porto Alegre; Copa D’Or, National Institute of Cancer and National Institute of Traumatology and Orthopaedic, in Rio de Janeiro; Memorial São José in Recife, Northeast; among many others. The best countries in Latin America to study Medicine outside Brazil are in Chile, Colombia and Argentina (in Buenos Aires, not in the countryside). So, don’t believe when someone says it’s a rarity in South America………. That’s absolutely not true. There are problems in Brazil and neighbour countries, but it doesn’t mean that quality is rare or doesn’t exist. What happens is in those countries (Brazil included) there is not enough distribution for hospitals and doctors in more remote areas, rural, isolated, “uncivilized”. That is why the Brazilian government brought a lot of doctors from Cuba (and I already know about cases of medical mistakes done by them) and many hate their life in Cuba, are unhappy with the payments given by Brazilian government and so a considerable number used the program More Doctors asking for asylum in Brazil, to don’t go back to Cuba at the end of the program, while others see Brazil as an opportunity to move from here to the USA……. Imagine this situation. It is happening now. So, there is this problem concerning remote areas (few people, after graduation wish to work at a State in the North or Northeast – they prefer doing their professional careers at the States of the Centre, Southeast and South) and also the problem concerning the Public Health System in Brazil, for free. The problem in Public Health is the delay, the long queues and the bad humour and lack of specialization of doctors who receive a bad salary in public health (and wished to be working at a private hospital, with resources and excellent salary). Those who can pay for a Health Insurance Plan or a Private Hospital don’t face that reality. **Me** and everybody I know (middle class, which can also englobes low and upper middle class) have a Health Insurance Plan, paid each year to guarantee excellence in treatment. I never needed any treatment I wished abroad. Since I was born, I always was attended by doctors of excellent quality in all areas of health. Dermatology, Paediatric, Dentist, Ophthalmology, Endocrinology, Gastroenterology, Otorhinolaryngology: everything, including Psychology (excellent professionals oriented by Jung, Freud, Gestalt, Karl Rodgers, for all tastes). There are good things here and they are not difficult to find. But the person needs to know where to go to obtain those benefits.
11th April 2015

Glad to hear you survived...
and that you will take the first signs of illness more seriously next time. I like you itinerary and look forward to reading your blogs...all the way to the end.
10th April 2015

When I was in Santa Cruz about twenty years ago, it was still practically impossible for a single traveller to cross the Gran Chaco from Bolivia to Paraguay by land. The South American Handbook stated: "We have received no reports from people, who have been travelling through the Gran Chaco by land". So you achieved something which was still impossible for me twenty years ago. Congratulations! Regarding your health problems, I can say, that the greatest danger in remote, isolated and largely uncivilized regions are not robberies, wild animals or the loss of documents or money, but a serious illness. You were lucky enough to get a good medical treatment in Santa Cruz - a rarity in this part of South-America. Santa Cruz is known for its good medical institutions - many Brazilians study medicine in that town.
10th April 2015

A wondrous continent
We are glad you keep us up to date as you galavant around S.A. Each day as I head off to work we wonder what you are seeing that we have not yet seen. We look at the atlas and wonder if we can head south anytime soon. Not yet for us as work interferes so for now we'll follow your journey. Can't say these buses sound like much fun but roaming through the ruins are great. Loved the photos. Always good to keep the plan soft so when things change you are not disappointed.
2nd April 2015

Most wonderful places on earth
Wow, those are strong words and those photos back up your words. When you are finished traveling...well, not finished but take a short break you'll have to open a gallery to display your work. I look forward to standing near the falls hearing the roar and feeling the vibrations. Waiting for your next edition.
3rd April 2015

Thank you ....
.... For your comments. I loved the Iguazu falls and I hope to get there one day again. I will update my blog very soon with other adventures in Paraguay and the crossing into Bolivia. Again thank you for commenting......
30th March 2015

Are you going to the River of Doubt...
that Theodore Roosevelt and party was the first to explore? The book about his experiences was eye opening.
30th March 2015

River of Doubt
Hi Bob. Thank you for the comment. Unfortunately I am not going. It is simply impossible to see everything and I have to make my way up north. Leaving tomorrow to Bolivia which should be fun. But you will read about it on the blog. Take care and until soon. Welf
28th March 2015

Oh yes, the falls, the spray, the chaos
I visited Igwasu Falls last Nov.. My first visit was in 1995. I was amazed at how commercial and 'organized' it had become. My 1st time a taxi took me from the Argentina side through the border control on a bridge. I had no Brazilian visa but slipped about $10 into my passport (as the taxi driver had 'suggested') which had to be left with the control officers. The first time the taxi drove up along the falls, I got out, pushed away the coatmundis, and gazed in wonder. This time I took the sanctioned bus and walked the entire length saving the Devil's Throat for the grand finale. I loved your pics they are almost identical to mine- it is hard to stop taking just one more photo. I took time to sit and gaze at the wonder. I had to chuckle at your comments about your body giving out.....I am almost 73 and about to leave for Turkey and Greece. Some of the trip will be with a small tour group (concession to age) but several days in both Istanbul and Athens will be on my own. I write under the name 'gunga'. I love to travel in South and Central Am. but most people look at me strangely when I say that- they are all about Western Europe, which is fine, but often makes me feel that I am just looking at different versions of myself. Carolyn/Gunga
30th March 2015

Thank you for comment
Hi Carolyn. Thank you so much for your comment. I always appreciate it when people write on the blog. Than I know that people actually read it. Yes the falls have changed as does everything in life. When I was the first time in Peru in 1982 it was so different. Machu Picchu was just a dream and the town below didn't exist. You can find a picture of it at the beginning of the South America trip. Word on the street is that they actually want to close MP next year but I think that is just a marketing trick to get more people to come. Yes traveling is a joy and I salute you for doing it at your age. People like me inspire me . And what is age anyway; just a number on some documents. We are as old as we feel. I know what you mean that people prefer Europe, but I amsure that is because they forefathers come from there and they know where their roots are from. Makes sense. I was born in Europe and now live in Australia so I guess I am a traveler by heart. The world is my oyster..... You have fun in Turkey and Greece and enjoy life. And thank you again for your comment.
28th March 2015
Iguazu Falls

Es increíble, ver la flora y la fauna de este lugar maravilloso. Sobre todo ver a los pájaros lanzarse al vacío como si quisieran suicidarse, y verlos salir como una flecha hacia arriba, jugando con el agua. Caminar por Misiones, es caminar por el "lomo" de Madre Tierra, llena de dones y de pequeños niños. Me alegra muchísimo que hayas disfrutado y vivido la experiencia de estar en el medio del caos perfecto.
25th March 2015

International Law - passport
When taking informations days ago about what he faced, I received as answer: "This is NOT A BRAZILIAN LAW OR A EUROPEAN UNION law. This is because reciprocity is not a Brazilian kind of 'revenge', but a principle ruled by something bigger, called INTERNATIONAL LAW. It was because of this International Law that Brazil, even hating, never could expel from national soil the famous English thief Ronald Biggs. Why? Because Brazil and England never had treats concerning deportation of persons. So, every time England asked for the deportation of Biggs, Brazil always said like "England, you never had a treat like this with me. You would never deport a Brazilian criminal to us. So we don't have this obligation. INTERNATIONAL LAW PRINCIPLE". I will write this now on your wall, so that your followers don't have the wrong idea that Brazil is like "the only country in the world which don't allow 90 days more in tupiniquim soil - your country also don't allow to Brazilians. And the reciprocity is automatic according to International Law.
22nd March 2015

Mugged
Wow, certainly glad you were not injured and that you were able to keep your pack. Great timing on the part of the military police. They must deal with this rather often. I'm sorry you had to leave Brasil but as you say it is best not to mess up future visits.
30th March 2015

Sorry for the late reply
Well, I heard that they have to deal with it often. Such is life. Regarding me leaving Brasilia I see it from the positive side and I am on the road this great continent. And as you can see on my blog I am having a lot of fun. And thanks to the internet I am in constant contact with my Carla. Not the same but better than nothing. Thanks for following me and hope to hear from you soon.
22nd March 2015

I guess Carla will have to visit you outside of Brazil...
or would you be allowed to stay in Brazil longer if you got married? Just a thought...
30th March 2015

Sorry for the late reply
Well we try to but the bureaucracy over there is just crazy. But the wheels are in motion.....
8th March 2015

The life of a back packer
So many countries and so little time. The bus was only 2 hours behind...that is not bad at all. You've shown some amazing architecture. Very cool that you got to ride in the army truck. People are so nice. Very cool.
2nd March 2015

Buenos Aires
7 days is never enough but I'll bet they will let you come back. After reading your blog we're ready to book our flight. Just wish it was time for us to travel. It would be fantastic to see a performance in the Opera House. Thanks for another great blog.
2nd March 2015

Thank you ....
.... So much for the comment. Buenos Aures is s fantastic city in a fantastic land. And if I inspired you to go back I hope I also inspired people to go there for the first time. There is a totally wrong conception in most parts of the world about South America and people have to experience this continent for themself. I blame the 'fun' media for that. Again thank you for your comment and stay in touch. You at going to love my next update... Welf
25th February 2015
Boca district - Buenos Aires

BUENOS AIRES
Great blog of an amazing city. To us it was a city of past glories. Yet a hum and vibrancy that the past can continue to be glorious. This pic just as I remember it...yet contained behind a strong chickenwire fence.
30th March 2015
Boca district - Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires
Hi Dave. Sorry for the late reply and thank you for your comment. Appreciated. I don't know when you have been there but I was tolda lot changed the last years due to the economic situation. I hope they can solve that soon and restore this great city to its former glory. Take care

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