Saturday, April 23, 2005


Roadblocks as a form of political protest are very commonplace in Bolivia. It is one of several form of protests, including strikes, hunger strikes and demonstrations. To make roadblocks you need stones, cars, burning tires, fallen trees or just angry people.

If a group decides to make a road block, they decide to go to a close street/road or they choose one that will impact a large amount of people. The last choice is not hard in Bolivia where there are very few roads connecting cities and towns. Thus, often you end up with a line of hundreds of vehicles with people eager for the roadblock to recede.

I will not discuss extensively the reasons that justify road blocks. These include demands of higher political participation from excluded groups, lack of employment, people being fired, tax increases, lack of diesel, corrupt bosses. I could go on and on forever.

Very often the people participating in the road blocks or demonstrations are not well informed about the issues at stake, leaders might exaggerate the problems or even lie about them. Lately road blocks are very frequent and roadblocks are preferred to solve problems the normal way.

Yesterday we had a fun joke about roadblocks, my cousin's husband told her that there was a road block in the road from Oruro to La Paz. When she asked what was the reason he told her that people was upset that a german pope was elected instead of a latin american one. In fact, this roadblock some mine workers demand the government to return the mine to their true owners, after some unemployed mine workers took it by force. My cousin believed the pope reason for a second, with this you can see that sometimes roadblocks are installed because of crazy reasons.

Right now i am in Oruro and couldn't travel to La Paz last week because of the roadblock i talked about. I am now planning to go to Cochabamba to visit friends and family on monday. However, there is a roadblock on that road too, so it is not sure i will leave Oruro anytime soon.

I will have to stay in Oruro sleeping with good company ;).

Alexey in good company

Meet my brother Andrey, who lives in Oruro.

Mi manote

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


These days i have been eating meals with llajua. A typical bolivian spicy sauce. It is made with locoto, a kind of chili, tomatoes and quilquiña(think of a herb akin to parsley or basil). I forgot how tasty it is! Let me illustrate you. When you buy some kind of chili to spice up your food you expect this "tongue bite" to improve the taste. Well, locoto not only adds spiciness but also a nice taste. And when you add quilquiña on top of it... man! it can get really good.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Now in Oruro, Bolivia!!

I am finally writing from Oruro, Bolivia. Unfortunately i cannot show pictures, because my damn camera broke down. I can't believe it! Just the day before i leave to Bolivia. I am now using my old camera and the traditional films. I cannot make as many pictures as before... sight! I will eventually have pictures when i scan them but you will have them.

The trip has been a bit long and i needed some hours of sleep to recover. The jet-lag didn't help either :). I have no altitude sickness(Oruro is at 3706mts over sea level) although i have been leaving at sea level for three years now.

My home town hasn't changed much. The streets look the same and my house too. I would say that the thing that shocked me the most is criminality. The rates of assault have soured in all big cities. I have been told that there are 20 stabbed people daily in my home town. The explanation seems to be the change of the penal procedure code. With the old code you had people in jail with no process started!! The justice was inefficient and you suffered from it. Thus, then new code had this as the main improvement, you couldn't stay in jail without a process or evidence against you. The new code insured that you couldn't be locked in jail for 24 hours without justification. However, after the change, real criminals couldn't be processed. The involved institutions couldn't arrange a process in that time. So you have jailed criminals and released the next day. As a consequence, people is very angry and make demonstrations. There are also many cases of normal people capturing thieves and beating them to death.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Trip in two days!

We keep quiet while eating Roberto's icecreamI have been wanting to post an update for some days now but i have been quite busy and then blogger gave me a lot of problems with Firefox. Finally i managed to post using Safari (another browser). Firstly i should say that the past weekend was very sunny, on sunday we went to eat to El Brillante (cozy spanish tapas place) and then to eat ice cream (see picture on the left).

After that we decided to go to Wilhelmina park where many people were lying on the grass. I took a little notebook to work a bit but i wasn't very successful.

At sunny Wilhelmina park

Workwise this week was good, i already started to implement a prototype on my project (more on that in a coming post). While doing that i implemented a type safe disjoint map, useful if you are doing compilers and interpreters in Haskell, i will put it in a coming post as well.

Last night i spent a lot of time uploading pictures to Metka's blog. Very nice pictures from Tanzania. However the blogging software wouldn't accept the pictures as they were and silently failed. After spending a lot of time trying to figure out what was wrong i resized them and now it works.

I am very excited, in a few days i go to this school. And after that i go for one month to Bolivia to visit my family and friends, that after three years absence! By the way, if someone is interested in reading bolivian blogs this guy has a list.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Osmar's visit

That pique was nice!Last week Osmar, a dear bolivian friend of mine, arrived for a visit. We met at Titus Brandma, a fun student building here in Utrecht. This is also how i met most of my closest friends over here. He stayed for a few days and we even managed to cook a very nice bolivian dish: Pique. You may see some of it in the picture, it consists of a lot of fried meat with french fries, paprika, onions and other vegetables. From the left to the right(top to bottom), you have Camilo washing dishes and Dario, Osmar and myself trying to digest the abundant food.

On saturday we had some really nice weather. Many people went to the center and had some drinks at the bars by the old canal. You can see how the center of Utrecht looks in a sunny day.

Utrecht in a sunny day

Update: After resizing the pictures of my blog i decided to include this funny one of Dario and Yuan Ju.

Dario does the philosopher pose at the photographer's request