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Let me out of this Bolivian jail

my hand is stamped!

sunny 80 °F

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It is the few and far between foreigner that gets to visit the female Bolivian jail in La Paz. There are forms to be filled, letters to be signed, kisses given to some minister of something. But for some reason, they let me in pretty easily. Only because I went with Sonia, a rad woman who employs women in the jail system to knit beautiful sweaters, shawls, you name it. She owns KnittingPeace, a company which helps women who have been placed in prison make money to support their families, feed their kids, and pay for a lawyer so they can go to trial. In Bolivia, you are guilty until proven innocent and have no funds to prove you are innocent. So your kinda stuck.

But the jail isn't that bad. Imagine a 2 story house with half an acre of land. Put 200 women and 70 kids (under 6 years old,) and you have a jail. They get to wear their own clothes, all have to sleep in the same room, but pay for 2 meter by 2 meter blocks where they can hang out for the day and have privacy. All food is sold inside in shops just like outside, as is junk food, clothes. It's like a small community that you walk around freely, but can never leave. Like Hotel California. Many of the women are in jail for drug trafficking and the like; but Sonia's company allows them to develop stronger skills and have a new destination in life once they get out of jail. Plus, the clothes are beautiful, and handmade from alpaca wool. I wasn't allowed to take my camera in, so no good photos to share. But take my word. It was different.
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www.knittingpeace.blogspot.com
Because I had my hand stamped, that's all it took to get me out. Thank goodness, because Jared didn't feel like kissing some minister of something to get visitation rights.

So Jared came to visit. And we became tourists. We went to the salt flats of Salar De Uyuni, located above 13000 feet. There's really no water there in many places, just salt. If you're not prepared, bad things happen. 0IMG_4615.jpg

just a smidgen of what we saw. And not nearly as pretty in pictures.
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my belly doesn't get to see much sun while biking. but my arms do~
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The redness comes from some algae in the water. The lake is covered in red and flamingoes.

Back in La Paz, we decided to check out the Chalito wrestlers. You see this funny hat? 190.jpg It turns out all the Ayamara women wear it, the indigenous women of Bolivia. For fashion of course. What I'm not sure they know or not is that the hat was introduced in the 1920's. Some English guy ordered too many of them for the jockeys here, and he had to get rid of them somehow. So he marketed them as increasing fertility. And it stuck, and the hat has been passed down for generations. I can't look at the hat without thinking of fertility....ahem.
Turns out they Ayamara women wrestle...men. Like WWF style. It was quite a show. 195.jpg209.jpg222.jpg264.jpg

my favorite picture. not bad for two white montananas, eh? 150.jpg Alas, Jared had to head back to the states. I'll miss him more that he knows, but will see him hopefully in Patagonia. On my own at this point; Lauren moved on to Argentina while I hung with my hubby and is many miles ahead. Who knows of the stories that will be told with just me and my bike. Hopefully will cross the Argentinian border manana.

Posted by risajs 10:45 Archived in Bolivia Tagged la de paz uyuni salar

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Hey Risa! I heard about the women wrestlers before- so cool! I hope I get to see them one day.
I will be starting my own South American adventure in 2 weeks! Whenever I start to feel a little anxious I just think about you and all your awesome adventures :) Rock on, girl friend!

by Maureen

A....maze...ing!I had no idea about the female wrestlers. Very cool.

by Emily

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