Prison Break

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April 25th 2008
Published: April 25th 2008
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After a long and tiresome visit to the salt flats, we arrived early in La Paz the highest capital city in the world. The salt flats were amazing however on the two days following we visited the desert on the chile boarder, it was driving taking pictures and dealing with the below freezing temperatures.

However La Paz exceeded my expectations having spent close to a week there I now wonder what I am doing in Quito.

The last day with the group ended and I had contact numbers to get into the Prison, something I was told to do. Each city in South America has a Plaza, one of the four sides of the Plaza in La Paz is fronted by a fortress like building know as San Pedro Prison, the guards marching the surroundings ward tourist and passers-by away from the building. However the side gate is another story the Prison is split into quaters depending how much money can bu once onthe inside. There are know to be five westerners on the inside three from South Africa, one from London and the last from Portugal.

We went into the side gate and the office on Thursday, with no sucess and two hours of waiting around we went past the guards to the main gates on the west side, a South African man named Kenneth Meisener approached us and slickly handed his mobile telephone number into our hands no questions asked, he gave us a time to call that number. Sunday 11:00!

The next day we went on ´The Worlds Most Dangerous Road´ a track notorious for deaths with drops into the Abyss! The bike ride started at the snowline north of La Paz and went down into Corrico taking a whole six hours to bike. We were fortunate not to have any servere knock offs however Annie fell off her bike four times, but escaped with only scratches.

After we headed back to the Hotel and I booked a wrestling match for sunday afternoon. The Cholitas wrestling is a gathering for locals to watch WWF style wrestling but more brutal. The range of characters entering the ring from behind a torn curtain, were Spiderman, wolf man and many other bizzare characters including two dwarfs which was a delight for local famillies however the Wolfman scared off a few members of the audience as he broke through barriers and throwing his opponent into the audience. The last match however was the growd pleaser with two Cholitas and their men fighting against each other, and a dwarf thrown in to mix the situation. There was hair pulling fire flames and general smacking against each other. The fight was even brought into the audience right beside me and in the chaos people were throwing food at the cholita which she threw back at me. For shouting 'el es Loca'! (She is Crazy) it didnt go down so well but I got some of the moments caught on camera.

I met with some people staying in the hotel on Monday night and asked if the had heard about the prison, I told them a little and the next day I rang the number Kenneth had given me. He said that we could enter that afternoon, however only in twos, being three of us we found that difficult as we all were a bit scared to enter by ourself. So we went on the hunt for some 'gringos' and headed to a pub know as oliver's travels owned by an english expact. We asked everyone sitting there and not many had heard about the prison but we came across a Canadian who was up to accompany us to the San Pedro Prison.

A short taxi ride later we were standing on the Plaza heading towards the prison, Kenneth had asked for 200Bolivians and donnations. I had read somewhere that donnations meant tolliteries, so we quickly went to the Pharmacy to get toothpastes and the likes. I went in first with Kimberley, we went past the guards with the password given 'twanadeet' and Kenneth met us at the side gate with his child cradled in his hands.

The Prison was like another society aparted from the real world almost surreal like the big broither house, no guards tread the inside and the prisoners strive to survive on there own, for westerners inside it is showing them a guided tour of only the safe parts of the prison. We met all five westerners congrigated in Jonny Walkers apartment for which he paid 6,000 USD to live the high life in the prison. We talk ask questions he showed us round, the two hours spent inside the prison was an incredible experince one that I will never forget and like in vegas what goes on in there stays in there! But if you want a brief insight there is a book written by the first englishman who made his money offerring tourists a night in the prison, however Jonny Walker said it was romantised but worth a read for complete understanding of what they go through 'MARCHING POWDER'


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