It was the worst news any British traveller could ever hear – no alcohol to be sold for 48hrs! My god! And we think our government is bad!! This has all come about due to the local elections tomorrow. Evo Morales, the current president in his third term, who claims to be a socialist (one of your lot Garry) but who is in fact just a dictator, has apparently just decreed that there will be no alcohol sold or consumed on the day before, and the day of, the elections. And on top of that, from midnight tonight until midnight tomorrow (Sunday) there will be no transport allowed either! Public or private! So our bus out of here tonight has been cancelled, therefore causing us to change several plans. We now have to miss out on Sucre, and travel direct to Potosi on Monday on the night bus, to catch up with our itinerary. Luckily our lovely boutique hotel has been able to let us keep our room for another two nights, so we’ll have had 5 nights here at boutique hotel prices! Not good for our budget! Also, we’ve had to cancel tomorrow’s hotel and they’ve charged us for that too! Come on chaps at work, what’s happening with our overnight allowance?????? Can you send it straight to La Paz??!!
So, at about 2.30pm today panic set in. Me, at the thought of no beer, Charlotte at the thought of having to go for more than eight minutes without food (EVERYTHING is ordered to be closed!!) We set off to the street where all the beer shops are, thinking we might just be able to blag some beer, but no, all shut!!! This was serious!! I was beginning to tremble a bit! Plan B was our emergency tramadol and Valium for medical emergencies, but surely there couldn’t be a bigger emergency than this??? Anyway, Charlotte’s crusade for food and snacks saw me entering a small shop, where I spied a fridge with a few bottles of beer in it! “Cerveza, si?” I asked the lady in my best Spanish. At first she didn’t want to sell it, but being Bolivian and poor, greed got the better of her, and especially when she realised I could put it straight into my small backpack without anyone seeing, she relented! Yes!!!!!!!! Three large bottles of beer!!!!!!! £1.00 each!!!! And then she even told us, in English, that if we came back tomorrow and knocked on her door, we could have some more!!!! This lady is my new idol! But, it gets better……
We wandered off to the food market (our second visit today, it being one of the largest and most amazing outdoor markets we’ve ever seen) to get some fruit and other such unnecessary things, and then on our way back to the hotel we passed an English pub. There was a security guard on the door, beckoning us in, with promises of beer. Now, our rule generally is to never ever go in an English themed pub, but these were desperate times so…… in we went. A nice wooden bar inside, just a few westerners, an English barmaid……..and beer!!!!! The only condition was that we had to drink it out of mugs to make it look like we were drinking tea! And you could smoke in the bar! We’d walked into heaven!!!! Speaking to the barmaid, they were risking a £720 fine, but were relying on the security guard to only allow foreigners in. It brought a tear of proudness to my eyes to see this tiny corner of England defying the brutal dictator Morales (he’s probably not brutal really, but it suits my needs). Three TVs showing different sports, Brilliant! Several beers later, we left very happily, with the knowledge that they would be open tomorrow, Election Day, and illicitly selling their wares again. England 1 – Bolivia 0!
I’m not a religion person, nor particularly superstitious, but is it any coincidence that this morning we bought another amulet, promising us luck and wealth?????
I’ve devised a new television programme that I’m going to tout around the TV channels on my return. I’m thinking of calling it “Post Or No Post” hosted by Noel Edmonds, or “Have I Got A Parcel For You” hosted by Paul Merton, or maybe even “A Question Of Parcels” hosted by Sue Barker. Basically, it involves sending several couples to various South American countries and attempting to post a parcel back home to England. Their knowledge of the Spanish language needs to be limited to two phrases – “Two beers please” and “Two more beers please”. Maybe in a bonus round they could buy the phrase “Do you sell denture paste?”. They have 48hrs to complete this one transaction, but will have to undertake regular blood pressure checks to check on their health as the going gets tough. The first one to successfully finish the task without resorting to uncontrollable violence wins. I think it’s a sure-fire ratings winner. I could be called in as the resident expert, having undergone this process three times in three countries now. Believe me, it’s more difficult than University Challenge (hmmmm, maybe University Parcel, hosted by Bamber Gascoigne??). The Grand Final of the series would be held in Buenos Aires where it’s practically impossible to succeed.
Surely, with the royalties from this programme and my travel diaries I’ll be able to retire??? Please?????
Our eldest son has suggested that my hair makes me look like Les Batterby. Sadly, the photo he sent with it only proved the point. Damn.
More Bolivian related election stories tomorrow (as long as I’ve not been arrested).