So Nick Caistor, the BBC’s previous Latin American Correspondent and a prolific translator of Latin American literature – in other words, those on a constant loop in my head right now, MY IDOL – arrived in La Paz yesterday.
He’s giving a series of lectures on journalism, which I’m going to be helping him with, at the invitation of the Lola Almudévar Memorial Fund and the British Embassy.
So today off we went to the British Ambassador’s residence in Obrajes to have lunch. Although when in the presence of an Ambassador I believe one doesn’t have lunch, one simply lunches – or depending on the hour, breakfasts or dines.
In fact, the Ambassador wasn’t there – he’s not yet arrived from his last post on Ascension Island of all places – so I guess we did have lunch after all.
And very nice it was too.
– Broccoli soup to start, with the slightly odd accompaniment of croissants. Well, not to offend the French (well known for their tolerance though they are), they were strictly speaking medialunas , the Latin American sweet imitation of.
– Followed by salmon with capers, carrots, edible potatoes (a rarity here and much to be marvelled at) and asparagus no less.
– And to round it all off: a perfectly spherical summer fruits sorbet with cheesecake (my fav).
And we discussed?
Well, politics, TIPNIS, press freedom, las cholitas, life and of course being British – the weather.
Though this was in the context of the imminent rainy season which last year left 1,300 families in the south of La Paz homeless after their houses were simply washed away in a devastating landslide.
Apparently, some sort of weather warning was issued, but it seems that when you’re talking about a densely populated city, where citizens vie for space that’s simply liveable and poverty rates soar, forewarned is not always forearmed.
Miraculously, no-one died.
But many of the families are still living in makeshift camps. They’re desperate to return to the same land. Despite the obvious dangers, they see no alternative.
In the middle of lunch today, there was a brief but heavy downpour today – a reminder of what’s yet to come.
I’m going to go down there to see it for myself.
I hope they’re better prepared this year and I pray their own hopes are built on more solid ground this time.