I am sure that most of you are quite experienced in learning new languages. Have you tried to learn Aymara?
Together with Maria Constanza, we started a cycle of one month classes (4 hours per week) having Victoria Argani as our Yatishiri (teacher). She is currently a teacher at a primary school and now she leads our classes. We are close to 20 adult students and we are the only two foreigners!
We started our classes last week and the experience is really challenging because Aymara is completely new to us. Listening Aymara for the first time, it was like listening Chinese or Japanese or any other language in which you understand nothing! Being Bolivian all the other students, the teacher explains Aymara by using a few words that are related with the normal usage here in Bolivia. We get nothing!
Plurinational flag of Bolivia – Unity in diversity
We realised about the importance that Aymara is gaining in the Andes now. The Aymara is official in Bolivia and is spoken by more than 2 million people. It is also important in Argentina, Chile and Peru. The language is becoming more important with the use of radio, TV and computers. Then, people are familiar with speaking a language that is quite old!
We spent the first 2 hours of our class to understand the ways used to pronounce it, and about the 26 consonants, 3 vowels and about the way to extend pronunciation. What I found interesting was using brother and sister (when you are addressing someone) and also the strong link that it has with the Pachamama (mother earth).
If you want to learn basic elements of Aymara, please go to:
http://www.ilcanet.org/ciberaymara/ [web page on Aymara]
You will enjoy it!
Jikinsikama Jilata (until we meet again!)
On Friday I was telling my colleague Normand that I wanted to see plants and gardens in La Paz. Some greenish! The sandy/clay mountains around the city look great, … but there is so little green! Normand told me to go to Mallasa to the South of La Paz, about 10 kilometres away. On Saturday, after taking my breakfast, I left.
The first part of my walk was descending from 3600 to 3200 m.a.s.l. It was great to feel the green tones and colours from plants and small forests. It was great to feel the clean air on my face. Obviously I had to ask for taking a good path. People explained to me how to go, but they were always suggesting, “it is better to take a taxi or a mini-bus”. I continued my walk.
The hardest part of ascending the mountain!
My anxiety came when I started again to climb ! I was going into a kind of desert, with high peaks and crevices, very dry and yellowish. At the top of the mountain I discovered a few flags from a group of countries and I realised that after walking for one hour and a half, I had arrived to the Valle de la Luna (the Moon Valley).
Shall I go in, or, shall I continue my walk to Mallasa? I couldn’t resist and decided to have the big tour inside the Valley. A very elegant woman, wearing her pollera and her hat, got my ticket and told me where to go. It was a marvellous experience. I started to make many different associations between the Valle and the Andes and the Aymaras and Quechuas, about the Condor and the music. So many things came together!
If you can visit Bolivia, my advice is to visit the Valley. You will realise how sand and clay, rain and many thousands of years define geology and a precious Andean landscape.
On the way out of the Valley I met the guy who was playing the flute. He told me where was Mallasa, where I could take my lunch. I kept walking!
This morning I did my best to have lunch in La Cueva del Sur (a good restaurant in Calacoto. I drew a Google map on my note-book and … I got lost!
At the moment I left home I realised that today was the National Pedestrian and Cyclist Day in Bolivia. At the same time that it was surprising to see all the roads and highways without a single car, it was great to discover people using their bikes, skateboards, skates and electric and pedal cars. The city was silent and the roads were full of people from all ages, walking on and jogging all over the place. Many were also walking their dogs.
It was impressive to see the activities organised by groups of younger people. Down the hill or up the hill (keep in mind La Paz and its terrible slopes everywhere!) you had groups of bikes, others were doing their skateboarding, and many others had their simple skates. It was great to see how they used the slopes to get speed.
It was quite special to see two and three years old driving their mechanical (pedals) or electrical (really!) cars on the roads. One of my most astonishing experiences was when the owner tried to get hold of Rocky. I was just walking, when someone started to shout “Rocky come here !”, but Rocky (kind of Australian terrier) had discovered the magic of running down the hill. The owner couldn’t follow Rocky and the police had to intervene to stop the dog.
La Luna está más lejos que tú … y la veo todas las noches
It was good to see that most of the presidential candidates stopped their campaigning work, which becomes quite intensive as elections are getting closer. I could only see one of the candidates (Samuel Doria Medina) walking the streets with a group of fans. His group was smaller than any of the groups using skateboards, skates or bikes.
The Pedestrian Days have been celebrated in different municipalities in Bolivia since 2011. Though it is an instrument to decrease pollution in the urban centres, I find that having these days once a year has a very little impact. I was remembering Bogotá, perhaps the first city in the world to start with these activities every Sunday since 1976. We all discovered the magic of being the owners of the public space.
Now it is 18:00 and I can hear the cars. They are coming back!