31 May 2011

carnaval in la paz, bolivia

The main difference between Carnaval in Oruro and Carnaval in La Paz were all of the clowns in La Paz.  There were tons of different costumes in Oruro but zero clowns.  In La Paz, you see many of the same types of groups as you'd see in Oruro, but with groups of dancing clowns thrown in.

24 May 2011

la paz, bolivia

Bolivia's capital, La Paz, means 'the peace,' and it's pretty mellow for a decent-sized city (population a bit over a million).  (The full name is Nuestra Señora de la Paz, 'our lady of the peace,' after the Virgin Mary.)  It's bustling with pedestrians, but I never felt unsafe or crowded in.

When you cross the 'zebra stripes' in some of the central areas, there are friendly zebras to help you.  (The zebra on the left has a red "Pare" (stop) sign to direct people and cars.)  All major cities should have zebra crossing guards, no?

21 May 2011

oruro to la paz, bolivia

From Oruro, we took the bus to Bolivia's capital, La Paz.  Here's some of what we saw, starting with this miner's helmet and approaching dragon:

20 May 2011

shoestring philanthropy

Maybe you are also guilty of this idealistic notion, too-- I've wanted to help "make the world a better place" since I was little, and I still hope I'll be able to leave this world a little better than I found it.  And if hearing about good deeds truly can beget more of them, then here goes.

Enter Marc Gold, retired community-college professor from San Francisco, who is practicing "shoestring philanthropy."  He travels to "where the poor people are," and he does what he can to make life a bit better, whether it's through buying art supplies for orphanages in Tibet or a year's supply of rice for a battered women's shelter in India.

"For people who live on a dollar or less a day, $50 can make a big difference," Gold says.  He adds:

"I'd thought you had to be rich to do such things.  I realized I had the power to help change people's lives."

16 May 2011

a bolivian church with a hidden underground mining museum

Oruro may be small, but it is the folkloric capital of Bolivia and really has some remarkable things to see.  Aside from its famous, UNESCO-recognized Carnaval parades, the Santuario del Socavón is the church all the parade participants twirl and march to, and it is probably one of the very few (if not the only) churches in the world to have a mining museum with former mining tunnels below it.

13 May 2011

oruro markets

You can get your own Carnaval gear, as well as musical instruments, colorful decor and water guns/water balloons at the many street stalls in Oruro.

10 May 2011

chinese boy carries his friend to school for eight years and counting...

This is pretty amazing:
International Business Times, May 6, 2011 6:43 AM HKT
In Hebei, China, a teenager named Lui Shi Ching, 16 years old, has carried his friend to school daily for the last 8 years. His friend Lu Shao has a congenital disorder which makes it difficult for him to walk. 
Eight years ago on a rainy day, Lu shao was stuck at school when his mom didn't come to pick him up. Lui Shi Ching, who was smaller than Lu Shao, decided to help and carried him home. Since then, he has carried Lu shao to and from school and even to restrooms.  
Lui shi ching said in an interview: "How did I carry him when he's so heavy? I was happy helping him out and it's been 8 years already."
Lui Shi Ching didn't brag about his good deeds too much; his parents didn't even find out until 4 years after he first helped out his friend. 
Lu Shao mentioned in his diary that Lui Shi Ching's help has lifted a dark cloud in his life and let sunshine into it.

05 May 2011

more bolivian carnaval in oruro

I couldn't resist.  There are just so many amazing images from the Oruro Carnaval, I had to include some more.  Enjoy!

03 May 2011

bolivian carnaval in oruro

Oruro is this tiny town in what feels like the middle of nowhere in Bolivia, but groups from all across the country (and even some neighboring countries) start making costumes and preparing a year ahead for the annual Carnaval parades here, and the final result is like nothing I'd ever seen before.

02 May 2011

cochabamba to oruro, bolivia

Traveling by land is nice because you can digest everything you've experienced and prepare yourself for the next adventure.  It was amazing to see my partner's old friends and family, where he grew up and went to school, and it was nice to see how loved he was, even after years of being away.

From Cochabamba, we headed by bus to Oruro, famous for offering the best of Bolivia's many Carnaval parades.