Our apartment is located right smack-dab in the middle of Cochabamba. From my window, find I have a fairly good view of the Cristo de la Concordia statue, ailment which overlooks much of the city. Public transportation to every imaginable corner of the city passes right by the front door. In order to arrive to one of the main avenues of the city, it is just a short two block walk away. Many of the internet cafes are located at the intersection, due to its close proximity to the city’s public university, where the popularity of online gaming has increased, much to the dismay of the students’ parents. I figured that I must have made this short walk hundreds of time.
Everytime I return to the city after a year’s absence, I always take a look around. I marvel at the number of familiar and frequented businesses that have closed during this time, which have been replaced by new ones. However, all in all the city looks very much the same.
Along the walk that I just took 15 minutes ago, I spot a cholita (campesina woman) sitting next to her makeshift candy and snack stand. Her chin is buried in her chest as if she was engrossed in a deep sleep. However, I know full well that she would become alert if a potential customer would approach. Even though her face is partially hidden, I recognize her from the countless number of times that I have passed by from years past. For the past three years, six days a week, the same woman has occupied her familiar place hoping to gather profits from her meager stock of candy, peanuts and other snacks. Without fail, she would be there from the morning hours until at least 8 or 9 at night.
However, today she was there selling on a Sunday afternoon. Days like this have traditionally been a day of rest and relaxation for all Bolivians, including those that toil much harder than me. Domestic household servants look forward to Sundays to see their family and take a break from the week full of chores and other duties. Streets are barren and restaurants are packed with Bolivians from all walks of life.
The fact that this woman was working on Sunday must signify that economic opportunities have not improved. One must wonder when it is she gets to see her family. From the state of sleep that the woman was in, business must have been light today. She is just a reminder of who this election is for, those that live much differently than most who read this blog. Reducing poverty has barely been mentioned during the campaign, which should be the end result of the profits from any hydrocarbons sale or exportation. Instead we are caught in the middle of a he-said, she-said and catchy slogans, which without fail, seems to be the norm during all election cycles.