So for those of you watching International news you’ll have seen by now that not a week after the surprise ending of the fuel subsidy, Evo Morales re-instated it. Turns out that his main base of lower-income indigenous supporters didn’t appreciate the price hike in commodities and transportation and there was wide-spread rioting and transportation strikes on the 30th and 31st. This has just been baffling from the beginning and the apparent ‘surprise’ that the administration had from the negative reaction is even more so. It just comes off as embarrassing, I think, that they could have had so little economic sense. All I can think is that there must have been more things going on behind closed doors that we don’t understand. And now we just have to hope that all the prices that did go up, come back down.
In other news, Tom and I had both been sick ever since an ill-fated Anniversary trip after Christmas. We got our first parasite tests done this week and preliminary results look like Tom may have a bacterial infection like E. coli and I possibly picked up some Giardia. This is good news because both are easily treatable. With poop-tests it’s often hard to get a positive finding even though you’re really sick because the parasites don’t always show up, especially Giardia. So, hopefully in a few days we’ll be back to normal. I mention this not to gross anyone out but because it’s just a daily reality here. There are commonly girls over at the Hogar getting treated for roundworms, giardia, ringworm (a fungus), skin infections, etc. Just the other day we talked to Andrea and she said, oh yeah three of the toddlers showed up with bloody diarrhea today. And, one of the volunteers over there is also on treatment for roundworms right now. When the environment’s not clean, domestic animals roam freely and the food is not clean, people get sick. And so in Bolivia people just get sick more and kids especially get sick more. Tom, I and the other volunteers attempt to keep very good hygiene; we boil our water, always use antibacterial soap and we’re very careful about what we eat but even still we pick things up. It’s not a good thing but it’s a recognized part of life here. The Bolivian doctor I saw even joked with me about the ‘cleanliness’ of food in Bolivia and told me to never eat uncooked vegetables in a restaurant. (I caved and had a plateful of fresh fruit during our anniversary trip to Semaipata, prob how I picked up my parasites.) And you might say, well the U.S. has salmonella outbreaks in its eggs and E. coli on its organic spinach and what was that recent one from sprouts in Illinois? So yeah, these problems are universal but in the U.S. threats are identified, recalls are made, production systems are (hopefully) shut down or cleaned up. In Bolivia you just learn that restaurant is clean, that other one is not, or don’t buy meat after 8am in the morning or don’t eat the vegetables. It’s more of a “live and learn” than a “public health risk alert” kind of approach. BUT almost all of our food is hormone-free, antibiotic-free, pesticide-free and locally grown. These are the trade-offs. So enjoy your raw carrot sticks and lettuce salads- you’re lucky to have them!