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Bolivia

carte20bolivie.jpg Coroico, Yungas San Javier, Jesuits Missions Amboro Park, Santa Cruz Lamas, Sajama National Park Huayna Potosi, Royal Range of the Andes Rooftop view, Sucre Cerro Rico, Potosi Sun Island, lake Titicaca Illimani, La Paz Laguna Colorada, South lipez Salar de Uyuni, Lipez Bala Camp, Amazonia

Bolivia. How can I talk about this country without falling into the trap of simplistic superlatives, or, more difficult still, without sounding contradictory? A few days ago, Apolino, an Amazonian boatman, summed up this unfathomable country for me by saying “BOLIVIA? TODO POSIBLE, NADA SEGURO!” In other words, here, everything is possible (very true) but nothing is (ever) certain! Because Bolivia is everything and its opposite: fascinating and alluring, but also wearing because of the inevitable surprises, and puzzling, or even disconcerting, for a resident such as myself. One thing is certain, Bolivia stands out for its contrasts and extremes. First of all, the geography. Twice the size of France, Bolivia offers incredible diversity. Altiplano, Llanos (the great plains of the east), Lake Titicaca, Yungas, Lipez, the Amazon, each designates a unique landscape. A high plateau perched at 4000 metres and surrounded by mountain peaks over 6000 metres high, infinite plains stretching to the borders of Brazil and Argentina, deserts of rock and volcanoes where the temperature can range from +20 to -25 degrees in the space of 24 hours, lush tropical valleys… It is not unusual to start a day on a glacier wearing crampons, at an altitude of over 5000 meters, and to finish on the banks of a stream, a papaya juice in one hand, listening to the parrots singing. Then, the population: over 8 million inhabitants, including 6 million American Indians, who often have nothing in common other than the same passport. An Aymara of the highlands has, really, nothing to do with a Yungueño, and even less to do with an Indian of the Amazon Basin. Skin color, language, traditions - everything is completely different. In this respect, Bolivia is, without doubt, the last refuge of many American Indian cultures: Quechua, Aymara, Guarani, Tacana, Pano, Aruaco, Chapacura, Botocudo… You only have to take a stroll around La Paz, that incredible melting pot of a city, and to follow a rainbow poncho, or a cholita busy in one of the many popular markets, among the apparent chaos of dozens of sweet-smelling, colorful stalls. video of Bolivia : click here

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