EDITORIAL BY Caroline Risacher
A typical Monday morning in La Paz
6:23am: I push the snooze button to make the alarm stop as it keeps reminding me that I need to get up. I hold my breath as I get out of bed and jump in the shower, trying to ignore the cold.
6:42am: In the shower:
Scenario 1: No water.
Scenario 2: I electrocute myself.
Scenario 3: I wash myself with a capricious drizzle of water which alternates between boiling and freezing.
7:31am: I want to buy a marraqueta/juice for sustenance but I don’t have any change, which leads to me getting yelled at by the caserita. (But it’s better to be in that situation than to find yourself in the minibus with a 100-boliviano bill and not enough change.)
8:04am: I am trying to cross a road near the city centre.
8:08am: I am still trying to cross that road. I am reminded of the game with the frog crossing the road and reflect on my own mortality.
11:30am: Someone brought salteñas. As much as I love them, they fill me with dread as I know that I will be silently judged by all if I spill any of the soupy stew inside its crust.
Usually by this point, the day of a paceño gets easier, and the only challenge left is to make it to the next day. But it is not uncommon at all for people who live in small communities in the altiplano to commute eight hours per day (four hours each way), every day, to El Alto or La Paz in order to work or sell their merchandise before returning home and repeating the same routine the next day. This is just one example of the harshness of life on the altiplano. What seems challenging for one person is just how life is for others.
For Bolivia, 2019 is an election year, and this comes with its own series of tests. Bolivians will have to deal with protests and roadblocks that affect their daily routine and travel plans. The current government will need to prove that it deserves to be reelected, while the opposition needs to convince the nation that they are a better option. On the world stage, Bolivia is challenging the world with its interpretation of socialism, and the country will have to show that it is holding transparent elections and that democracy is being respected.
There are all sorts of challenges, from seemingly small ones like making rice at 3,600 metres above sea level to vital ones like fighting against the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, and everyone faces obstacles at some point to varying degrees of difficulty. Ultimately, these are part of what makes Bolivia such a unique and special place. After all, isn’t it true that ‘the greater the effort, the greater the glory?’
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