The journey from La Paz to Sao Paolo in Brazil takes three whole days. There is so much that I still don’t know in Bolvia, therefore I visit two Italian friends in Cochabamba, where the people succesfully stroke back against the privatization of water (even rain fall) in the year 2000.
Cochabamba is furthermore an important transfer centre for coca leaves that are consumed legally like a sort of chewing tobacco and as tea. It’s only illegal once processed into cocain. The US have been trying for many years to curtail its cultivation, but for many people this agricultural sector is the only substantial one – as long as there is demand from foreign countries it will stay like that!
For an hour I wander through the centre of the „city of eternal spring“ and ask myself, how the streets and buildings that appear much more presentable than those in La Paz are financed.
But I don’t occupy myself with that for too long and head on by night bus to Santa Cruz, the richest and reportedly most superficial city of Bolivia with more beauty pageants per year than there are days to it (according to Lonely Planet Guidebooks). I am tired, just wanna arrive in Sao Paolo. Few hours later my train leaves, taking me to the boarder of Brazil. That train ride is quite an experience. A German ICE or French TGV would probably do the same distance in less than 4 hours. This regional train takes 18. Half an hour into the train ride a group of women gets on to sell drinks, empanadas (pastries) and warm dishes. They stay on for two hours and get off for a ride on the train heading the opposite direction, sell more drinks and food and go home. The scene is repeated in the evening.
From the town of Quijarro I have to take a taxi to the boarder where I wait for two hours for the boarder post to open. Then two hours for all the stamps that I need in my passport. Then on a city bus to the bus station of Corumba, together with a friendly Columbian that luckily speaks Portuguese well, but because of his ominous citizenship it takes him three times longer than me, the young blond European woman, at every checkpoint. Together we go on to Campo Grande. And from there I get on the my last night bus to Sao Paolo. Finally! I reach that gigantic city at mid-day (I count 37 lanes at the toll place on the motorway just before we reach the city!!!). Now I am here, but I don’t have Brazilian money! There is no money exchange anywhere, only cash mashines that are of no use to me at all, because I have been robbed my bank card among other things on one of the bus rides in Chile. I spend hours looking for a money exchange, but I am not succesful until the next day. The city is too big! I feel overwhelmed!
When I wake up on the second morning the sun is shining. A magnificent and fresh morning. Hurra, I’m boarding the ship! What a day to say good bye to Latin America!
The MV Río Bravo is waiting in Santos, which is 1 hour away from Sao Paolo. Gregorio has already been on board since Montevideo (Uruguay). It’s grate to be travelling together again. For me, however, the return trip is a lot shorter than getting there, and it ends after only 10 days in Tanger, Marocco. We spend a few beatiful days in the breathtaking Spanish city of Granada, where we witness the beginning of the so-called „15M movement“ that demands changes of the existing system as Spain is getting ready for regional elections. I have never experienced protests like that before! They are not demontrating „against“ something, but „for“ something new. The people want things to change, they’re playing their gigantic drums, full of optimistic joy and hope, dancing through the streets! It’s a gift to see all this. But we continue towards home.
Friday afternoon we arrive in Paris. Just in time to participate in the international protests for a „Patagonia Sin Represas“ (Patagonia without dams). The world is about to change! Many people are aware of that and we are in the middle of it! Many Chileans live in Paris. They arrived during the years of the Pinochet dictatorship, built a new life and stayed.
We are spending the weekend with our dear friends Odile and Fredi, whom we’ve met for the first time in Patagonia on our way to Pumalín Park and again shortly after at the „Confluencia“ of Río Baker and Río Nef. This magical place where the river presents itself in its entire beauty and where one morning it seemed to be dancing just for me. Where Marianne plays or drum every morning. Where we slept outside under the starry sky with our friends Romeo and Noemi. Where we were sitting many hours, listening to the river. This river that must not be destroyed by mega-dams!
Fredi joins us to the protests in front of the Chilean embassy. He knows where it is, because he has already protested here against the Pinochet regime in the 70ies. The evening ends with the Chileans singing and dancing at the „Trocadéro“ looking over the Eiffel Tower, in front of which the many signs and Chileans appear quite photogenic!
Never have I come back home from a journey as aware. The past months have moved many things inside of me and the feeling, as the train crosses the Salzach river to get into Austria, cannot be described. It’s wonderful and important to have people around me that lookin into the same direction and move that way, everyone according to their pace. Welcome home!