Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Things are getting serious... Or so they say

The political situation in our autonomist little corner of Bolivia is getting interesting to say the least. El Presidente de la Republica, (indigenous) Evo Morales, has successfully managed to tweek the law-making process to make it a little easier for his party (Movimiento A Socialismo or MAS) to enact land reforms. This is a touchy issue throughout Latin America, where, generally, a few hundred (mainly white) rich famillies own vast tracts of land while poor peasants are left with next to nothing. Evo has taken it upon himself to try to rectify 500 years of such injustice by redistributing some of the land currently owned by these few families to (mainly indigenous) peasants.

This is making the rich and powerful, who seem to be concentrated in Santa Cruz and neighbouring Tarija, quite outraged. There are people hunger striking in the principal Plaza of Santa Cruz, Tarija is threatening to cut of gas supplies to the rest of the country, and there is talk of a national strike that could bring parts of the country to a halt in the next couple of days. We got a letter from the Canadian consulate warning us to stay away from any protests and are feeling a little bit uneasy about the situation overall.

To make matters worse, most of the ´news´ channels in Santa Cruz help fuel the anti-evo sentiment by providing a very one-sided and rediculously over-dramatic portrayal of the issues (complete with scary music and weird camera angles to emphasize the effect).

The only real alternatives are CNN Español, which has some US-bias, but at least attempts to appear unbiased, and Evo Morales´ good friend Hugo Chavez´s very own Telesur, which runs a nauseatingly redundant series of adds supporting Evo and attacking his opponents in every commercial break.

With this sort of media coverage it is no surprise that the country, or at least this part of it, is becoming very polarized. What will come of the situation remains to be seen.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Back in the Santa Cruz Groove

After a little over a week of working on the project in Guarayos, we´re back in our home away for home for a few days. We were hoping to have our visa situation taken care of while here, but that was a bust, so we´ll likely have to make a trip back next week before our current visas expire.

Overall it´s been very strange being back. There were certainly times when we were in the town where we felt incredibly far from our routines in the big city. Ascensión is a quaint town where motorbikes dominate the streets (which are mostly unpaved), chickens and dogs are numerous and roam freely, and the bugs are big and plentifuly. We are staying with a local gentleman in a house in the neighbourhood on the outskirts of the town where our project is taking place. Overall, we´ve adjusted quite well to small town life, and the fact that we haven´t been staying in our cozy Santa Cruz hotel anymore. We´ll try to get some pictures eventually to show you what the town is like.

The project has not progressed without problems, but the townsfolk have been really helpful and patient with us. We also have been working successfully with a local pastor to educate the people who will be receiving filters and we are confident that things will work out... we´ll just be there a lot longer than we had originally expected.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Chau Santa Cruz. Hola Ascension!

So it seems after some delay we will be leaving for Ascension de Guarayos this afternoon to begin the pilot BioSand Filter project.

If we have internet access we´ll definitely keep you posted, if not, then we´ll be back in Santa Cruz in a couple of weeks to update y'all.

Take care and hasta luego!

Saturday, November 04, 2006


So we´ve finally have some pictures up on the web. We´ll do our best to update them when we are able.

You can find them at:

Just hangin´ out...

Well, not much is new to report lately. Janaki and I remain in Santa Cruz waiting for things to get organized so that we can head out to Ascensión de Guarayos to begin the pilot project. We have been continuing our quest for a visa, and have made some significant progress (100% thanks to Alejandro´s help) but still do not have it. Other than that we have been hanging out in the downtown area loading pictures onto the internet (a very time consuming and frustrating process), practising Spanish, going to movies and a even checking out a yoga class....

We went on a really refreshing stroll today on the outskirts of the city by the River Piraí. The river was absolutely beautiful with a wide sandy floodplain bordered by seemingly untouched forest with a nice view of mountains on the horizon. It is also a popular swimming spot for the locals. We decided to take a walk through some of the settlements on the edge of the city and into the jungle. Unfortunately we have no pictures to show from today, so instead you can enjoy checkin´out this lizard that was chillin´on on the front door of our hotel a couple of days ago.