I feel I should write something but now I am in bed, the prospect of sleep seems far more appealing. I arrived in Cochabamba a little after 6am after a sleepless journey on an amazingly cheap bus from Santa Cruz. The fairly uneventfull trip left me feeling really bad about not speaking Spanish as I spent ten hours barely exchanging a dozen words with the women I sat with and eventualy shared a blanket with. The roads were often unsurfaced and we had occasional down pours of tropical rain that somehow made it’s way into the bus. The journey was broken by just one toilet break and the odd random stop to let on additional passengers. Getting the bus was an experience that really took me back to my previous time in South America. Santa Cruz had seemed calm and relaxed in the 35 deg C heat of the day but once the sun set the city burst into life just as I was making my way to the bus terminal. Once there I was over come by the noise, hussle, and sense of confusion (purely my own). It took literally seconds for me to hook myself up with a ticket (at less than a third of what I had expected to pay) but when I tried to enter the area where you board the buses I was confounded by the fact I had a white coloured bus ticket and everyone else had a yellow slip of paper. Without the yellow slip I could not get to my bus and with perhaps twenty minutes to spare I ran around trying to solve the mystery which turned out to be a 30p tax on using the bus terminal which had to be paid before you could board the bus. Anyhow, arriving in Santa Cruz and saying goodbye to my travel companion, I quickly located the hostel I had reservations for, but soon stumbled on communicating that fact. Eventually I found myself in my room but now 8am there was no time to sleep as a demonstration was assembling at 9am to kick off the water wars event. I took the opportunity to have a shower and do some laundry, my first of the trip, then headed off to the plaza armed with camera, sleep deprivation and mild altitude sickness. The demo was pretty huge. I’m reluctant to attempt an estimate but perhaps 10,000 would be reasonable. I uploaded some photos and experimented with uploading ‘live’ video streams via http://qik.com/wpccc The march ended up at the venue which will host the next three days of workshops and assemblies etc to mark the tenth anniversary of Bolivias water wars. I met up with other activists from the UK who are stating at the same hostel as me and after the event we found a place to eat, my first proper meal since Monday. After the meal I returned to my room to catch some sleep but awoke before 7pm as I thought we’d be attending the continuing water wars event. However, turns out I’m not the only one feeling a little burnt out and everyone else decided that a quiet evening in was required. But with a couple of hours sleep behind me, I felt I needed to explore a bit if I was to ensure a full nights sleep. Ignoring warnings that I shouldn’t venture out alone, I set off to check out social life in the nearest plaza. The area of the hostel is known for roving gangs of glue sniffing muggers so I went out without a camera which I regretted later. I didn’t feel especially unsafe although just a couple of days ago the muggers apparently attacked three indigenous people and rumours spread that one had died so a lynch mob formed and set about inflicting collective punishment on anyone they thought might somehow be connected to the attack. My evening adventure involved nothing worse than being scammed over a bottle deposit when buying beer. Somebody pointed out that I’m probably 50% taller than the street kids that make up the mugging gangs but that means little when out numbered. I remember getting mobbed in Peru some years ago with kids trying to pull things from my backpack. They backed off when I pulled a knife on them but continued to circle me at a safer distance. Anyhow, tonight I concluded that the most likely threat of injury came from the poor condition of the pavement and the risk of poking your own eyes out by walking into the frames of the numerous market stalls which are clearly designed for a population far shorter than myself. So, tomorrow my compadre from climate camp will arrive and hopefully we can knock out some interesting interviews in time for the Dissident Island radio crew to use them in their show in the evening.
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