Wednesday, February 20, 2002
We didn't sleep as well as we should have last night due to our frantic brains from yesterday's activities. We had planned to return to Peru today, but we changed our minds. Exhausted from our two days of adventure, we decided to stay in La Paz one more day to recuperate. Hopefully the rest of our trip will be less eventful.
After breakfast and the warmest, most luxurious showers of our lives, we took a taxi to Eco Jungle Tours, the bicycle place, to pick up our free t-shirts. They don't give them to you until you complete the trip, I guess to save money so they don't have to give shirts to bikers who ride off the edge. They're the cheapest shirts ever, but by God, we'd earned them.
Hail from Yesterday's Storm
Eco Jungle was in our old neighborhood, the area hardest hit by the storm, and the place was trashed. There were many streets blocked off because of collapsed buildings and rubble that had piled up from the flash flood, and even from huge piles of hail that people were still digging out of their businesses. There were military police everywhere. We decided to walk back to our hotel. With all the blocked streets, it was probably just as quick as a taxi anyway.
We passed through Plaza de San Francisco and observed the area that had been most featured on TV the night before. When the hail started, many of the indegenous people who run stands on the street protected only by tarps ran to an underpass here for cover, which was unfortunate, as the flash flood quickly followed. This is where there was the greatest loss of life. This morning the news was reporting 36 confirmed dead. We now know the final toll was 63 fatalities. It's a wonder there weren't more.
Hope that Wall Holds
There were hundreds of people gathered around trying to look into the underpass to see what was going on as workers carried out debris. Some people lost their lives. Others lost everything they owned, which wasn't much to begin with. We could see where chunks of the street and the sidewalk had been torn up and swept away by the fierce waters. On the walk back to our hotel it started to rain, and we were a little worried.
Racing Waters the Day After the Storm
We wanted to email our families last night so they wouldn't worry, but we needed to rest our brains first. Chances are the ethnocentric media at home hasn't mentioned the disaster anyway.
Finally we got around to emailing them, and it took us almost two hours at the Internet cafe to give a rundown of the last few days. What a whirlwind it's been! We ate dinner and were back in our room before 6:00. We were tired.
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