Saturday, December 5, 2009

evo time

A couple weeks ago in Coroico I made an impulse buy. I wasn't at all in the market for a new watch, but when a Bolivian friend half jokingly suggested that I purchase the Evo Morales-themed time keeper, I couldn't resist. Despite the relatively steep $5.80 asking price, I couldn't fight the strong urge to augment my political kitsch collection.

Tiempo Boliviano: half past Evo Cumple. (Not a super clear photo, I know...but you get the idea)

So that's how it came to be that I'm now the proud owner of a black plastic watch that pays homage to Bolivian president Evo Morales. It features Evo (who I swear is winking at me) and the phrases: "Bolivia Change" and "Evo Cumple." As if the face of the watch wasn't crowded enough, it also displays the word: "Yangkey," which I thought was a misspelled attack on yankees/gringos, but it's apparently just the brand name of the watch...which, incidentally, was made in China.

The timing of my purchase (pun intended) is a bit coincidental. Tomorrow is December 6th--election day here in Bolivia. It's been four years since Evo was elected as the first indigenous president of Bolivia and tomorrow voters will return to the polls and, assuming all goes as my lunch crowd tells me is expected, Evo will earn himself another term as the jefe máximo of Bolivia.

Ricardo Ramos won the first-ever (Sarah Mechtenberg-sponsored) "Evo Lookalike Contest" at the College this past year. Online voters agreed it was his thick crop of hair that garnered him first place: an Evo-lución t-shirt.

Though I'll refrain from making any personal political commentary, I will say that Evo's political party, MAS, has been out in full force for the past couple weeks. But here in La Paz (due to travel restrictions,* I had to come to La Paz yesterday in order to pick up visitors on Monday morning), all is tranquilo. Now that the campaigning is officially over, the pre-election energy that I felt last weekend in La Paz (marchers, press conference with Vice Presidentis Alvaro Garcia, media frenzy, etc) seems to have evaporated. For today, only graffiti remains.

Tomorrow, I've been told, most everything will be shut down here in Bolivia's capital city. Without transportation, everyone will be pretty much contained to their homes and neighborhoods--the only place they need to get to are the polls. So, apart from accompanying a native friend on a field trip to experience Bolivia's democratic system, I'll probably meander around La Paz on foot--with Evo, of course, strapped to my wrist...winking at me.

*Voting in Bolivia is obligatory. Also, national law requires that there is no purchase/sale/consumption of alcohol 48 hours prior to election day. It also prohibits travel on the day of the election (except in rural areas such as Carmen Pampa where they travel to neighboring towns like Coroico).

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