Feeling brave

Tomorrow is always another day, right?! Well waking up this morning Bernice decided tomorrow was actually today and she was going to bite the bullet, not think too hard about it and go visit the old people on the street.

We first visited the market and filled our bag with Salteñas and bread rolls and then having had one ourselves for brekkie set off to look for a likely candidate. Not that we had to look to far. Guessing wildly here, but most of them – men and women – generally had a mouthful of coco leaves and given the choice only wanted money, to buy more – 5Bs (50p) was the repeated request. Being true to our values we don´t ever give money to homeless regardless of potential need, we stuck to our guns offering only food. 75% or there abouts were genuinely pleased to be given food and happy (if not bewildered) for you to photograph them. Some however really wouldn´t budge and only wanted money, others would take the food and still ask for money, just in case…

Bernice practiced her best Spanish when talking to them, explaining she was an artist and wanted to take their picture. She also attempted to get their names but after the first few attempts it became clear that many of them had mental health issues (probably the coco leaves, but it could also just have been dementia due to old age, who knows) and didn´t either remember their age or just didn´t seem to have one. It maybe that the location of the photo becomes their name…

Once we had started walking around and talking to them, it did become a little easier, but really and truly it was mentally exhausting. So sad to see, knowing that society here just wasn´t able to cope with them either financially or in numbers. That we were so lucky it wasn´t such a prevalent site in the UK any more, these old people were averaging 75-80 years old!

The afternoon was somewhat subdued and it was all we could do to spend time in the hostel researching cameras. We had gone via Condor trekking on the way back and found there were now 11 more people signed up for the trek so it was going ahead tomorrow should we still want to go. This lifted our spirits somewhat and gave us a new focus.

As a result we decided we would go ahead and buy the camera as we can´t (or are very unlikely to) visit these places again, this is our one time only chance to capture our moments as they happen so the cost is kinda irrelevant.

The day was finished off with the much hyped quiz in Amsterdam, and we had a healthy size team this time, albeit still slightly anglophiled, but it stood us well and we were only beaten by one point to top spot.

2 thoughts on “Feeling brave

  1. I think you may be surprised at how many homeless people there are in UK cities with exactly the same problems – just younger.

  2. Yeh we agree. We know there’s a shed load of homeless in the UK but thankfully they aren’t generally as old as what we’re witnessing here or in such vast quantities. Every where you turn here there are countless old people begging on the street. Many just stand there with their upturned hand right under your nose and won’t take no for an answer. It’s a much bigger problem here. Bolivia is the 2nd poorest Latin American country after Haiti – did we say that already? :-/

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