Guaqui, Bolivia, Rem Sapozhnikov
February 2008
15 kilometers away from the archaeological center Tiwanaku on the road to the Peruvian border there is a small port town Guaqui. Previously trade relations with Peru used to develop through it – ships would regularly run on the Titicaca lake between Guaqui and the Peruvian port Puno. Different goods from Guaqui would be taken further to La Paz and other destinations. And mineral raw materials would go from Bolivia in the reverse direction.

The privatisation process has badly effected the economy of Guaqui. The proved by time freight-passenger route turned out to be «inefficient». Besides, the Titicaca lake played a mean trick with this Bolivian town in 1984: unexpectedly it raised its usual water level by 2 meters that caused destruction of port structures, residential dwellings, town infrastructure. The municipality building turned into ruins.

In 1985 the water went back, but to such an extent that the previous port became unaccessible to ships. Steam engine furnaces went slowly out: they started to transport cargo by trucks. The town authorities had nothing to do but to turn the rail junction into a museum complex. Besides the steam engines that have become a relic, the museum of history and culture of nations, inhabiting the shores of Titicaca, has been opened in warehouses. Magnificent monument to the hero of people carnivals brightens up the town panorama.

Basic occupation of local residents is primitive fishing, cattle breeding and modest farming, the unprofessional level of which requires much efforts. That is why the streets of Guaqui are deserted in the daytime.

Casa de Justcia is deserted too as the residents of Guaqui try to obey the law and do not commit serious offences.

↑ Click for detailed view ↑

Empty are the pubs, vendors of small shops are nodding, there is not a single worshipper in the ancient church Apostol Santiago (it was built in 1649). There is an opinion that corridors of this school are also empty. This boat made of totora has firmly «run aground», as if symbolising stagnation in the life of Guaqui and expectation of reviving changes.

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