Amigos de Sucre

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Archive for January, 2008

High-level Soccer

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

It may not affect many stadiums in Europe, but the FIFAs ban on international soccer (football) games above 2,750 meters is something that could seriously affect Boliva’s football team.

If you think of such heights above sea level in Europe, then you think about mountains – the Alps in particular. The Schilthorn, for example, is at 2,970m above sea level (that’s the one with the restaurant on it in the James Bond film “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”!)

At this altitude, the air becomes thinner and so the body has to adjust so that the lungs can absorb the oxygen better. No mean feat for a visitor, but image playing football at that hight – or even higher, La Paz being another 1000m on top of that.

So FIFA, the world body governing football, has banned matches played at such levels without acclimatisation. But how long do you need to acclimatise? I think I needed about a week when I was in Sucre and another few days again when we climbed up to the Potosí/La Paz heights.

On the one hand, that makes it a bit unfair on lower-lying countries in South America when they send their players there.

But on the other hand, why should Bolivia suffer for it’s altitude and have to play it’s international fixtures elsewhere?

Waste collection in Bolivia

Friday, January 11th, 2008

After reading about the dustcart being sent to Bolivia, I read today in Business News Americas that the Bolivian government is investing large sums of money in waste collection, although the article does not exactly say where the improvements are to be made.

Water and sewage services are to be improved as well.

Did you know that the pipes taking the sewage out of the buildings are so thin, that you have to put used toilet paper into a rubbish bin rather than town the toilet itself? It’s something that takes getting used to…

Pipes being laid in Sucre, July 2000

Sending a dustcart to Bolivia?

Friday, January 4th, 2008

The first story of the year that caught my eye is somewhat unusual.

A lady from Berlin is raising money to send a dustcart to Samaipata (original story here).

The story got me thinking – rubbish being collected by a lorry rather than a dustcart I could imagine, but did I see this happening during my visit anywhere? Was rubbish such a problem?

So I went back through all my photographs – and it took me a while to find any pictures with rubbish on them. On almost all of them there was none to be seen, not in Sucre, Potosi, La Paz, Cochabamba or Villa Tunari.

On closer inspection I did find two examples – the (closed) railway station in Sucre, and the hill up to the shines in Copacabana.

Above: the station in Sucre
Below: the hill climbing up to the shrines in Copacabana
(July 2000)

Even in the poorest areas such as El Alto I cannot find any.

That said, there was often a problem with sewage. I remember the filthy colour of the river flowing through La Paz, or the blocked toilets in Cochabamba.

Perhaps after the dustcart, someone should start collecting for a sewage treatment programme?


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