READING

Hooray! Transportation Strike!!

Hooray! Transportation Strike!!

Mercifully, the mini vans, the local “bus” service, are on strike today until 6 pm, leaving the streets and intersections clear and crossing the steeets less hazardous.Have to say, getting around on foot, my favored mode of transportation when I travel, has been curtailed here in La Paz. I only cross an intersection, always clogged with at least a dozen cars, by crossing with a woman holding a baby and falling into lock step with her. Within an hour of arriving to my hotel I was clipped by a car and fell. Fortunately, I was not injured, not even a bruise, but I sure was scared. Many shopkeepers came to my assistance, brought me a chair, insisted I remove my shoes and socks so they could examine me. All a comfort. Now, when I walk down the street to purchase my bottled water, I am recognized and fussed over. Since that experience I have been extra cautious and last night did not go to the restaurant I wanted to go to because I would have had to cross a particularly busy intersection and it was dark. There are traffic lights. No one obeys them. I came back and ate at my hotel. Today pedestrians have a respite and I will be back from my tour by 6 pm when the mini vans take to the streets again.

Having heard all about San Pedro prison from tour guides and reading about it on line, I walked over to the prison this morning to see for myself.

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Not inviting. The prison sits right on the lovely San Pedro square. It has a storied history. Said to produce some of the best cocaine in he world, the prison functions as a society unto itself. There are no guards inside. The only role for a guard is to determine who goes in the front and only door and who goes out.

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The prison rules itself through “officials” who are elected within the prisoner population. Every man must pay for his cell so if he is a rich drug lord, he can have a swank apartment with private bath, hot tub and cable TV. If he is poor, he may have sleep in a hallway. The prison has several restaurants and bars. Families live there with their incarcerated member. Ten years ago a young backpacker was arrested and thrown into San Pedro. When he was released he wrote a memoir, Marching Powder. Brad Pitt bought the film rights but has yet to make the movie.


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