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Bolivia's capial, La Paz, during a strike
mbolivia.jpgWiki dedicated to Cultural Exchange - Learn about people, cultures, geography of Bolivia.===

HHS Students can ask questions about the people, culture and geography of the places you see in these wiki pages. Remember to be polite and respect the postings of others!

I wanted to start the Bolivia page with the answer/story to the following question:

Do the students go to school like students here? Everyone or just some? Same ages? Do they have jobs afer school?



I was sitting on a curb in Potosi, Bolivia patiently waiting for our bus to arrive. Patience is a must with the Bolivian buses because upon its arrival, the drivers carefully placed big cement blocks behind the tires so that it wouldn't roll away, but this is only a sign that it might be a long ride. Either way, we sat watching the Bolivian people load the luggage on top on of the bus, while the other Bolivian people busily sold random items ranging from recently slaughtered beef to gum to furniture. I noticed a little boy sitting close by to my friend and I, so we began talking to him.
"Como te llamas?" "Alberto," he shyly answers. We learned that he was 7 years old and I asked him if he was going to school. No he said. He was working. Then I learned that he was a singer. Sounds cute, but he lives day by day, sitting on the curb waiting for somebody's bus to sing on. From there he earns a few spare coins and continues to work, giving all of his earnings to his parents.

This story is of course only an example. Bolivia is the poorest country in South America but even so, it depends on the family as to whether the children go to school or not. In La Paz, the streets were busy with students running around in their private-school uniforms. Unfortunately, those children whose families cannot afford to send them to school, they usually have a hard life of begging in the street for money.

Potosi, Bolivia

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Potosi was one of the largest, most important cities in all of South America during the colonial period. The Spaniards found what the richests that they had been searching for, in the form of silver! Interestingly, in the spanish language, there is a saying, "vale un potosi" which is used to describe something very expensive. The original hype of Potosi declined once silver was being discovered in other parts of Latin America. The city began to decline and it it weren't for the other available minerals such as tin, zinc, and lead, Potosi would have experienced extreme poverty.

Currently there is not very much for the traveler to see in Potosi aside from visitng to learn more about its interesting history. A huge majority of the tourists who arrive to Potosi do so to go on one of the famous mine tours. The tour agencies provide the necessary equipment for the journey, including the very important head lamp. After paying for the tour, the groups are guided to various stores where they are encouraged to buy gifts for the miners such as dinamite, coca leaves, alcohol, and sometimes water. It may appear that these gifts are strange, maybe comparable to giving a homeless man a bottle of alcohol; however, these gifts are the basic supplies that a miner uses during their 8-10 hour work day. They do not take breaks to eat so the coca leaves ease their hunger and also give them energy. Interestingly the companies for whom the miners work for do not provide the dinamite so the workers must buy it. At around $1.25 for a pack of dinamite, it isn't hard for the tourists to give a hand. The alcohol was a special gift because it was Friday and at the end of the day the miners make an offering to "tio" the devil-ish statue near the opening to the mine. They believe that "he" helps them through the week and will bring them luck.

We found out that after one begins to work in the mine, they have around 10 years life expectancy.
~Katherine N.