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Tuesday, 01 January 2013

Beware the Bolivian Armada - Page 2

Written by Peter Selman
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In anticipation of the eventual return of her coastline, Bolivia maintains a Navy, which operates on Lake Titicaca and in jungle towns such as Rurrenabaque. 

“Not only will you meet the President, but you’ll see a rare Bolivian naval excursion,” Aurelio proudly tells me, as we gather alongside a few hundred islanders above a steep Inca staircase overlooking the small bay.


“I’ve only seen two before, and I’m 34.”


The world’s highest navigable lake glistens like sapphire, and the snowy peaks of the Royal Range shine in vivid, transparent light. Donkeys graze on amber grass alongside llamas in terraced pastures. A deep-set Andean lady in a bowler hat, with rugged dark-brown skin and a silent baby wrapped in a colorful shawl slung over her back, tries to sell me a postcard. 


A flotilla of sea-worthy vessels, seemingly transporting the whole congress, approaches the island with great ceremony and pomp. A brass band starts up, and local girls clad in carnival costume dance by the tiny jetty, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Big Chief.


Unfortunately, the Naval vessels, due to their size, cannot enter the shallow harbor and dock. It takes the underworked marines nearly two hours to find a solution to this logistical problem, by which time the President and his entourage – their TV slot having passed - lose their appetite for football, and go for lunch instead. 


“Oh well,” Aurelio sighs with disappointment. He then smiles, “At least the Big Chief won’t have the opportunity to inflict his trademark injury on you.”  



©Peter Selman



(Page 2 of 2)
Last modified on Friday, 18 January 2013

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