Saturday, October 19, 2002

Travel dreams
Today is the big student party of this semester, so I'll leave soon. But that's not what I wanted to tell.

I finished a book from a 60-year-old German traveler who went through South America on his bike. It's a book I got from Steffi and it's amazing what he experienced on his way from Buenos Aires to the Cerro Rico in Bolivia. First he went a long the Rio Uruguay, then making a short side trip to the IguacĂș waterfalls. But the really interesting part of the journey was the way through the Gran Chaco in Paraguay, a countryside so hard to live in and with so much German history in it. He didn't succeed coming through til Bolivia because of the worst floods in a long time there, so he had to cycle back most of the way to Asuncion and take a flight to Tarija. From there he mostly pushed his over 50 kg heavy bike over 4000 m Anden-passes to the rich silver mountain near Potosi. This mountain is one of the UNESCO's cultural heritages. The Spanish conquerers took thousands of tons of pure silver from the mountain, letting the Indios work for them. An estimated 8 million Indios died here from bad working conditions. "Potosi is the city which gave most to the world but owns the least." (Eduardo Galeano). The working conditions aren't much better today, but there's almost no more silver to be found.

There is a moving description about an expedition into the mountain with a miner in the book. It's worth reading. I don't know if it's available in English, too. The German title is "Vom Silberfluss zum Silberberg" from Christian E. Hannig.

I also finished a book called "Die Franzosen pauschal" which is not that good. It pretty much handles the usual predjudices which is sometimes funny but mostly studpid. By the way, it's the translation of a book called "The Xenophobe's Guide to the French" from Nick Yapp and Michel Syrett.

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