Monday, November 19, 2007

The Disposable

La Paz is fairly tame as far as South American cities go. Crime only seems to happen to those who are very careless, very unlucky or very drunk. Still, pulling out a couple of grand’s worth of camera to take a shot isn’t a great idea (it’s very careless), so I bought a disposable to get some of the shots I was too afraid to take the big camera out for. The lens isn’t quite as sharp, but it’s nice to be able to take photos without worrying about losing a backpack full of electronics around the next corner.

These are road safety zebras. They tell people when it's safe to cross the road. The police try to do the same thing, but nobody takes notice of them.

A La Paz bus stop.

Bolivia is the abused runt of the litter that is South America’s countries; at some point in history, Bolivia has tried to assert itself in a warlike fashion against most of it’s neighbours, each time copping a whipping and leaving the arena with a nasty new grudge.
The unfunny repercussion is that many Bolivians have died in these wars, which have been fought over things such as the (ex-Bolivian) Chilean coast and non-existent oil in the Chaco region of eastern Bolivia. In the centre of the city is a memorial commemorating the dead. It’s a rare example of this very specific kind of sculpture, because it in no way, not even in an stealthy way, does it glorify what goes on in war. Instead, it mourns the dead people (as opposed to dead soldiers). The figure is face-down in the mud, shirtless and ingloriously anonymous while his rifle is flaccidly aimed at the ground. There’s nothing whatsoever heroic about the sculpture, it’s all about the tragedy of people dying at war, and not concerned with whatever political cause they died for.

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