One journalist's musings about the beautiful, bizarre world in which we live
Blond dreadlocks and colourful hippie bags were all over the scene, before Bolivian president Evo Morales took the stage.
As the excitement built, the dog lying in the square nearby lifted his head, drowsy from his nap.
I accidentally left my camera’s data card in my tent. All pictures I take will be left to my friend Tobias’ film camera that he lent me before I left Athabasca. It will rely on my limited knowledge of aperture and shutter speed at 200 ISO. Ouch.
I was kicked out of the press box. No credentials or organization to back me up.
I found myself a decent spot on the left-hand side of the stage, and soon discovered I was beside a few dignitaries and other freelancers. The Guardian’s John Vidal was wandering around for a while nearby with a press pass, so I guess I found a decent spot.
It took hours for Evo Morales to arrive. Hours of standing, chair-sharing with an old campesino, chuckling with another freelancer over inconsiderates blocking the view.
“Cochabamba, si?” shouted a woman on stage.
“REDD no!” replied the crowd.
For hours. HOURS. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that voice, shrilly attempting to rile the audience between songs from a choir and speeches from unknown dignitaries.
Finally, as the rain subsided and a rainbow appeared behind us (no word of a lie), President Morales finally arrived.
But he didn’t take the mic right away like most of the politicians I’ve seen at special functions. Instead, he sat through dozens of thank yous and other short speeches from organizers.
Finally, finally! The president of Bolivia took to centre stage.
He opened his mouth, and his words were, as my travel partner Dan describes, impassioned. He called for a “new socialism” – one that sounded very much like the old socialism, Dan said. He raged about the United States; he spoke kindly of campesinos. It was hopeful, but depressing nonetheless.
The rest, to me, was a quick blur, ending with my quick exit after the speech to the nearby taco stand.