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September 2nd 2008
Published: September 2nd 2008
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So it’s 3:30am and I’ve been tossing and turning for the past few hours because I made the mistake of eating a full meal right before bed. Since La Paz is a city at 11,000 feet above sea level, the altitude affects many parts of your biology, especially your digestion. So it’s a well-known pointer that you shouldn’t eat much late at night. Thus, usually paceños (La Paz natives) follow a diet that consists of a small breakfast and dinner and large lunch. Unfortunately, I often get late night munchies so now I can’t sleep :-/ …

After parting ways with my sister in Santa Cruz, I returned in the late afternoon back to La Paz. By the time I got home from the airport and unpacked it was around 5 or 6 pm on a Friday night. I took a nap and had some dinner at home and then headed over to my cousin Maria’s apartment to meet up with her and her friends. Her Japanese friend, who Nejla and I had met before and heard many crazy stories about his time at UVM and other adventures, had been over my cousin’s cooking dinner. But I didn’t join them until about 10:30, so I just joined the conversation for a couple hours before we headed out for the night. We all went to Secret, a discotech/lounge on one side and a bar/restaurant on the other. As we got there, apparently the bouncer used to work for our family, so he knew Mari really well, along with my father, so we got in without cover charge. We had a fun time dancing until late in the night.

The next day I slept in a bit and had a late breakfast and lunch. Then, I joined up with my cousin Majo at her house to head over to help set-up for her boyfriend’s band Bus 31. They were playing in this trendy local bar that had a stage and live music. The place was called Target and it was a great gig for the band that I had not only been in the recent music video for but had hung out with a few times out in La Paz. So I think I was pretty close to an official groupie =).

I helped out with the sound check and then Majo, Majo’s boyfriend and rockstar Shaggy, her friend Cata (a really nice and fun German girl), and I went out to this interesting café/bar in this old white stucco two-story home that was filled with antique radios, posters, suitcases, sports stuff, artwork, and much more memorabilia and knick-knacks. We had some drinks and then I grabbed a chicken teriyaki wrap from the popular Café Alexander before returning to Target for the show. The concert was awesome; I was so impressed with the talent of the group. The singer/drummer Marco was extremely funny and charismatic and worked the crowd well, and even did some solo songs on his guitar between sets. Bus 31 shared the bill with another young band as well, who did some covers including Red Hot Chili Peppers along with original songs.

After the show, the band and friends set out to find a place to go dancing. Unfortunately, Malegría, the place where we saw the afro-bolivian dancing, had a 21+ and couples only policy that night. So we went to Mongo’s, a popular tourist bar that I had heard a lot about but hadn’t been to yet. It was a fun atmosphere, decorated like a Spanish villa, and definitely was filled with international visitors. I ended up talking to some Israeli’s as well as others passing through La Paz before leaving and heading home.

Sunday I had lunch with my Aunt Ana Maria Galindo, who is my dad’s cousin on his mother’s side. My aunt is the general manager of the American Chamber of Commerce in Bolivia and used to live in New York City for some years. Perhaps the best part was that her twin sons both went to Dartmouth for undergrad degrees!! One continued to M.I.T. grad school and the other to Stanford if I remember correctly. One now lives in Madrid and the other in NYC working for J.P. Morgan & Chase, and both are extremely successful businessmen with very cute kids. I enjoyed lunch with my aunt at an Italian restaurant in San Miguel, a few blocks from my home. There I also was introduced to one of my father’s very close childhood friends from his time at Saint Andrew’s school in La Paz (they were in the same class but then my father skipped a grade since he’s so intelligent!). After, she shared some more photos and stories at her beautiful English-cottage style home.

After a large lunch and not so much sleep, I was in much need of a nap. However, by the time I woke up it was already past 8pm and I was still pretty tired, so I just made a small soup for myself and went back to bed to get my beauty rest. I woke up Monday morning and headed to the Internet café after breakfast since for some reason I can’t hack into my neighbor’s wi-fi anymore. I went to my cousin Majo’s house for lunch and played with her adorable little brothers Ale and Fede and their cute kitten for a bit before heading out to meet our friend Cata on Sarganega Street. For the next few hours I went crazy doing some great shopping in this popular area, constantly bargaining the already incredibly cheap prices. I bought 5 pairs of earrings, 2 hair clips, a ring, a weaved hand bag, a beautiful white Alpaca pullover hoodie, a hippie-ish fleece and embroidered zip-up hoodie, 3 different Alpaca scarfs, etc etc…

We took Ale and Fede out for ice cream after our afternoon shopping to a delicious gelato shop in San Miguel. After, I freshened up at home and headed over to the beautiful new Cinemateca in uptown to meet up with my cousin Javier, his friends Alejandro and Andres (my campo guide) and Andres’s girlfriend. We saw a much-anticipated film about Klaus Barbie, Hitler’s former right-hand man, who had sought sanctuary in La Paz since 1951 under a false name, living a very comfortable life and even being hired by the Bolivian army to use his Nazi training to educated Bolivian troops (he was the most prominent among many former Nazi officers who took refuge in Bolivia - the army had developed the same marching style, uniforms, and tactics as the SS army as a result of hiring former Nazis for training). My father recalls seeing Klaus as a teen in La Paz. The movie was pretty well done and a good amount was filmed in La Paz (as well as Santa Cruz when they depicted a meeting between Klaus and Eduardo Suarez, the Bolivian drug lord of the time), although it could’ve used some more historical referencing. It was a French production, but French, German, Spanish, and English were all spoken at different parts of the film (along with Spanish subtitles of course).

After the movie I was hungry. As a result, it brings me back to the mistake I made of making myself a big dinner and now not being able to sleep….at least it led me to complete this entry!

I think maybe now would be a good time to break into one of the herbal preparations the Kallawaya doctor Don Miguel made for me…it’s a combination of three herbs meant to help you have more peaceful sleep when prepared into a maté…hmmm…I’ll let you know how if it works!

Until next time!



3rd September 2008

Roberto ("El Papi") Suarez
Roberto (("El Papi") Suarez hailed from a socially prominent family fom Beni and was a successful cattle rancher before he "diversified" his business interests and got involved in cocaine trafficking. At the height of his power, influence and wealth, he reportedly offered to personally pay off the entire foreign debt of Bolivia (the Bolivian government never took him up on this). I don't know if the meeting depicted in the film between Klaus Barbie and Roberto Suarez actually took place, I suppose it was historically plausible though.
10th September 2008

I miss it!
Laura, while I read this blog I felt like I was still there with you. I love Middlebury but I so wish I could still be in Bolivia. Please continue to send my love to our family, new friends, Bernie, Julie, the Cholas, our boy Ilario, Don Miguel, the random Italian man from the Albergue, the stray dogs on the streets, and Fede's gato. Thanks.
10th September 2008

oh nej you make me laugh...

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