15 July 2010

2010.07.15_el matrimonio gay

At almost four in the morning, after 14 cold hours, Argentina's Senate finally ran out of words and settled on passing gay marriage, making itself the first Latin American country to make this huge step against discrimination and for equal rights -- even to stupid things like marriage. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!

08 July 2010

2010.07.08_cochabamba futból wars

Bolivia might be the nicest place on earth. Here is approximately how my first experience in Bolivia went:

Immigrations agent: Do you have a visa?
Me: No.

Immigrations agent: Do you have the forms required to obtain the visa?
Me: No.

Immigrations agent: Do you have a photo?
Me: Yeah, in my passport.
Immigrations agent: No, a separate photo, for the visa.
Me: No.

Immigrations agent: Do you have 135 USD to pay for the visa??
Me: No.

Immigrations agent: "Está bien."

Hahaha. Wait, really? He then accompanied me to the ATM so I could take out the 120 dollars I had in my account, then to the exchange booth to change my Argentine pesos for the rest, filled out a quarter of the paperwork, skipped the photo thing, and handed me a visa along with my change in Bolivianos. He then pointed me in the direction of my next personal servant, who was waiting to direct me to my next plane -- which was happily waiting for me. It's like they all took a Accept Everything & Be Happy course!

Other than that, or maybe because of that, or maybe the reason for that, the country is really colorful. I tried to do my usual black and white routine, but couldn't bring myself to drop these colors:

The only downer (besides your run-of-the-line Latin American poverty) was this place...

...the Convento de Santa Teresa, where the second daughter of every family was once destined (the first married to ensure the family's economic security and the third was reserved to change their parents' diapers when the time came). In the convent, they weren't allowed any contact with the outside world. Like ANY. They could see their family once a month -- well, not really see, but hear, as there were bars and black curtain to prevent stimuli overload. They sold goods to the community through a revolving cabinet. They could talk to each other for an hour during dinner -- the rest of the day was to be spent silently working in prayer. Sounds rough, but at least if you paid a lot of money, you got a black veil and more rights. They treated their own wounds and diseases, as any doctor that entered the premises would have to be killed before departing (I made that part up to make the rest seem less offensive). The bad news is that there are still women in there. The good news is that it looks like they're the last of them, as the switch to consensual admission hasn't been good for the cloister business.

The semifinals for the World Cup in the Plaza Principal (the same plaza where the people hung a banner that read "El Agua es Nuestra, Carajo!" and so went the Cochabamba Water Wars and the expulsion of Bechtel) marked my last day in Bolivia. Sometimes I love sports, and this day was one of those sometimes. Everyone was rooting for Spain, because after your country, and after your continent, it apparently comes down to language. Hundreds of strangers from all demographics gathered for a common cause and yelled in unison (it was the Water Wars all over again!). The motivater? Nothing but a ginormous screen with the resolution of a 7-inch with rabbit-ear antennas. It was incredibly charming.