Graffiti and some amusing pictures from our trip (Part 1)

May 5, 2010

So on our first full day in Bolivia we couldn’t resist but go and visit the biggest statue of Jesus in the world (so we are told), or “giant jesus” as we lovingly referred to him. While originally this had been a jokey request from a loved one back home, a demand for a photo of us at his feet, we were all in fact quite keen to make the journey and take a look for ourselves. So a hot walk and a short cable car ride later we there at the top, admiring the outlines of breeze blocks still present in the original construction. Jokes aside, it was a great place to get a full view of Cochabamba and its surrounding areas – a moment to take a deep breath before the hecticness of the conference began.

Jesus warning - "danger, avoid being a victim"

Cochabamba has a great array of political graffiti, stencils and murals. This piece is on the corner of the Plaza Principal, a key area of organising during the Water Wars and still to this day a site of mobilising and protest. Only the day before we headed out of Cochabamba there was a protest outside a government building very close to this mural, as residents from District 9 tried to hold the municipality to account for still not having met promises relating to water supply in their area.

"The Water is the Peoples"

During the march on the first day of the Feria del Agua, marking 10 years since the Water Wars we saw a whole selection of political graffiti and messages along the route as well as adorning the walls of the venue, Complejo Fabril. We also watched as pieces as were being made (there’s a photo in an earlier post) and have since been lucky enough to meet some of the awesome women who were responsible for them. Here’s a selection of what we saw on the day.

"The Water Is Ours - Dammit!"

"Mother Earth is not income. It's not for sale. It's not for rent!!"

"Capitalism = Death"

"Death to the State"

"Neither God, Nor Master, Nor Political Party"

Chewing coca leaves here is akin to having a cup of tea back in the UK. The beginning of the conference working groups, meetings and the inauguration of the CUSTCB congress have all included opening rituals and the sharing out of coca leaves amongst participants. Despite ongoing denial, it’s commonly known that the original recipe for Coca-Cola involved coca and in this vein Bolivia has its very own product on the market. Coca Colla (do you see what they did there?!) is available in the major cities of the country, and this specimen was spotted on the floor of a side event during the conference. Unlike its widely known competitor, this one proudly states its ingredients on the bottle.

In a similar vein, the closing ceremony of the conference included the most unusual mascots we have ever seen, who we have since named “Daddy Coca Leaf” and “Babby Coca Leaf”. While different indigenous groups paraded around the arena performing traditional song and dance, our coca leaf friends amused people on the field and made us smile from ear to ear.

More to follow….

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