LaPaz is set in a spectacular location, right at the edge of the 12,500-foot Altoplano, and going off down into a huge bowl. The part on the Altiplano is actually a separate city, called El Alto, and it is full of a million or so people, mostly poor, who have come in from the country hoping to make a living in the big city. LaPaz itself drops down steeply so that the lowest part of the city is a thousand feet below the Altiplano. This photo shows the high plain but only a small part of the panoramic view really needed to show the city.
Quaker Bolivia Link hopes to improve the lives of rural Bolivians, so as to discourage them from moving to LaPaz with its sometimes sordid conditions. (photo by QBL)
We visited a section of the city where artisans sell their things - this street is called the Witches Street because here are sold dried llama fetuses, which are used in some ceremonies.
We visited the Gregorias, a women's weaving cooperative, which was started a decade or so ago by QBL but now is independent. Here is the woman wearing the scarf that I bought from her.
Here is the same woman, demonstrating her craft.
The women of the Gregorias, and the lunch they brought out for us, in a display of the hospitality that is so common in Bolivian society.
The faces of Bolivians are so beautiful!
Then we visited a school for children who are developmentally delayed or are blind or deaf or have some other serious difficulty which keeps them out of normal schools. In Bolivia the common feeling is that if you have a child with a defect of some sort, it is because you have sinned. Consequently there is a lot of shame and guilt associated with such children, who often are kept out of sight. QBL's contribution to the school was to make up and print a pamphlet for the parents of such children, helping them to understand how their children can be nurtured.
We had quite a tour of this school and at the end met them. They loved to have their digital photos taken and to see themselves in the camera's tiny screen after the photo.
Bolivia is a country where people often pour into the streets to demonstrate for causes. This one is a demonstration against teachers' unions. The sign says, "Teachers' unions are assassins of education!" We were blocked into LaPaz and could not get out for two days, because demonstrators had blocked the roads, a common tactic.
Large rallies are common in LaPaz. We don't know what this one was about.