Saturday, November 8, 2008

by foot

Whenever asking a Bolivian to measure distance with time, it's always important to ask the clarifying question:  "A pie o en mobi?"  (By foot or public transport?)

In the U.S., if someone told me that they lived three hours away, I'd never consider asking if that meant a three hour walk or a three hour car ride.  But here, our students tell stories of walking multiple hours to arrive at school, work, or home.

A UAC-CP student walks along a path wearing his abarcas--simple, yet sturdy sandals made of used tires that are commonly worn by people in the countryside.

Students who work at the College's Coroico Viejo Goat Project, for example, walk more than 2 1/2 hours round-trip (rain or shine, up hill both ways) to earn about $4 for a day's worth of hard, physical labor.  Those who vie for the coveted jobs at the Goat Project walk over every Monday and use their salary to pay for their monthly food cooperative dues.

Though Carmen Pampa continues to see an increase in the number of minibuses offering daily service to nearby Coroico, most other rural, Bolivian communities only have access to public transportation once-a-week.  In these remote areas, people often have no other option but to call upon "Taxi number 11"--their two feet.

Something to keep in mind, for me at least, the next time I'm circling the Target parking lot looking for a spot closest to the door.  Suddenly the empty spaces at the far corner of the lot don't seem so far away.

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