Friendly Cinema Snack


Tired of unfriendly cinema snacks? Zeus knows I am! Tarija, Bolivia.

“Evo quits politics to open a poncho shop”

Along with miniatures of money, houses, university degrees and animals, tiny newspapers are sold for Alasitas. These Onion-like periodicals contain headlines such as, “Sean Penn named Minister of Transparency” (Evo asked the actor to be an ambassador for the coca leaf, among other things) and “Chile offers 10 million bottles of seawater to pay off the maritime demand” (Bolivia lost its coastline to Chile in the war of the Pacific over 100 years ago and Morales has been pushing Chile for access to the sea).

There’s a section with numerous photoshopped images of the vice president and his new wife getting wed in every marriage tradition possible to prove their marriage is the real deal. You see, many Bolivians suspect the vice president is a closeted homosexual and/or he married the young journalist to align the government closer to the media.

These newspapers provide a nice contrast to the protests which occur weekly in La Paz, but still give somewhat of a glimpse into what at least some of the population thinks about politics.

Ass Gigante


In Chile, fast food (burgers, hotdogs, sandwiches) usually involves mayonnaise and mashed avocado. Not as a sauce, side or dressing, though. No, here they are more like fillings. Whilst a quarter-pounder of avocado isn’t so bad, that much mayonnaise is just gross (and this coming from the girl who puts mayonnaise on everything).

So we avoided fast food in Chile. Even though it was tempting to order an ‘ass’ just to find out what it was. Instead, good old google came up with the answer: it’s an odd spelling of ‘as’ which means ‘ace’. So there you go. Next time you’re in Chile you can order one knowing its the best choice of hotdog swimming in mayonnaise that you’ll ever get.

How to make teenage boys interested in history


We spotted this a calendar in a hotel in Tarija. In small print it explains about the Battle of Ingavi in 1841. The hotel had a few more ‘informative’ calendars from this company, about important historic events and the provinces of Bolivia. They all featured semi-naked, highly photo-shopped women.

Max Ronald’s

There are no McDonald’s in Bolivia. They haven’t been banned or anything, they’ve just failed. Too expensive perhaps, though Burger King survives in a few locations in La Paz.

And, of course, the completely original Max Ronald’s thrives in Tarija. Observe Max and his sidekicks stepping in the blood of their enemies.

A Cheap Beer Tasting in La Paz

It was Friday night, and we were feeling too lazy and too broke to go out, but wanted a reasonable excuse to drink. So we came up with the idea to have a cheap beer tasting.

There are nice beers in Bolivia, Saya to give an example, but we opted for what was on offer at our local Ke-Tal supermarket.

I don’t really know how to write about beer. I googled, “How to write about beer,” and did my best with the sometimes esoteric adjectives provided. After each beer, I got a little more tired, and my palate a little less precise.


Here are the results.

Alcohol content: 7%
Color: anemic golden hue
Taste: slightly sour and earthy
Carbonation: fizzy
Mouthfeel: pretty smooth once the bubbles die down
Did you like it?: Meh. The sourness is a bit cloying and the body is weak. Not disgusting, but not an altogether pleasant experience.

Alcohol content: 4.8%
Color: clear, yellowish-greenish hue
Taste: a bit hoppy, gentle body, minimal scent
Carbonation: low
Mouthfeel: very smooth
Did you like it?: Yeah. Not bad. I’d recommend it to people who don’t really like beer. It’s not especially flavorful, but it’s inoffensive, despite its odd color.

Paceña Pilsner
Alcohol content: 4.8%
Color: standard golden
Carbonation: fizzy
Taste: dry, weak finish, slightly malty but hardly a pilsner
Mouthfeel: light and dry
Did you like it?: Not so much, but it’s better than the Bock. In fact, it’s like a less tart version of it.

Paceña Dark
Alcohol content: 5%
Color: black
Carbonation: soft
Taste: sweet, too sweet in fact
Mouthfeel: sticky
Did you like it?: No. This is dark like Batman is dark… in the Adam West TV series.

Census day in Bolivia

Today, November 21st, was Census Day. That means, of course, that we weren’t allowed to leave the house or we’d be arrested or fined. But a day off is a day off and we made the most of it.

Two high school girls interviewed us around 10 a.m. They asked us such questions like, “Do you own a boat?” (I wish!) and, “Do you like to use home remedies when you’re sick?”


After this pleasant ordeal we got down to business. Other than the thrilling task of laundry, we spent hours baking rocks – I mean bagels. They turned out diamond-hard and burnt on the outside, and gooey and undercooked on the inside. Kind of like the fish sticks Lisa made in that one Simpsons episode.

We had more success with banana bread in the evening, though at this altitude it took several epochs to cook.

We also spent the day wishing we were watching Game of Thrones, but alas, no sorcery could conjure up a device for us to watch it on.


All in all, Census Day is a great time. If you’re in Bolivia ten years from now I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

The £3 Haircut


This is what a three pound haircut looks like. To be precise, £3.12 or 35 Bolivianos. It costs slightly less than a meal out in a ‘nice’ restaurant and slightly more than my hourly wage.

Peluquerias are everywhere in La Paz. I chose this particular hairdresser’s by a process of elimination. There are five places within five minutes of my house. The first two happen to sit on either side of a canine peluqueria. For some reason this rather put me off. The next place looks like this:


I never made it to the fifth place because the fourth place was empty and I figured it had to be better than the previous three. Its windows are covered in cutouts of American celebrities. I figured if they could cut paper so precisely, they could probably cut hair well enough too. I’m not fussy.

And that was it. I showed the hairdresser a picture of me with the short, feathered cut I had last year. She wrapped a silver cover around me – which handily had holes for my hands – and plonked a celebrity magazine on my lap. Then she was off. With a spray bottle of water, scissors, a razor, and thirty minutes she transformed my shapeless, tangled mane into a nice textured bob.

I have to say, it was one of the best haircuts of my life. No, it didn’t include the head massage I used to get from my Taiwanese hairdresser, nor the vibrating chair in my London salon that massaged me while my hair was washed. But for the speed and efficiency with which she worked, and the £3 price tag, I don’t think it can be beat.

Here’s some before pictures, so you can really appreciate the workmanship.