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Posts Tagged ‘Bolivia

“Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”*…

 

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The Chacaltaya Ski Resort was once the only ski resort in Bolivia. The popular resort also had the honor of being both the highest ski resort in the world and home to the world’s highest restaurant. But when the mountain’s glacier melted, it was all but abandoned.

The ski resort was opened in the late-1930s, and soon middle- and upper-class residents of nearby La Paz were flocking to its slopes. For seven or eight months of the year, people came to ski and go sledding down the Chacaltaya Glacier, at least until the cold and extreme altitude made them return to lower ground.

At 17,519 feet above sea level, the Chacaltaya Ski Resort was higher than the North Base Camp of Mount Everest. For decades it held the record as the world’s highest ski resort, and the resort’s restaurant is still recognized by Guinness as the highest restaurant in the world.

But in the 1990s, scientists at the Mount Chacaltaya Laboratory began to make some stark predictions. By 2015, they warned, the Chacaltaya Glacier would be gone. As it turned out, they were being optimistic. By 2009, the 18,000-year-old glacier was completely gone…

The sad story in full– and more photos– at “Abandoned Chacaltaya Ski Resort.”

* lyrics by Sammy Cahn; music by Jule Styne– written in 1945, in Hollywood, California  as Cahn and Styne imagined cooler conditions during a heat wave

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As we try to beat the heat, we might recall that it was on this date in 1613 that the Globe Theater in London, built in 1599 by Shakespeare’s playing company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, was destroyed by fire.  The venue went up in flames during a performance of Henry VIII; a theatrical cannon, set off during the performance, misfired, igniting the wooden beams and thatching.  The theater was rebuilt the following year.

The Globe was the initial stage for most of Shakespeare’s plays, but for other playwrights as well.  Indeed, the first performance for which a firm record remains was Ben Jonson’s Every Man out of His Humour—with its first scene welcoming the “gracious and kind spectators”—at the end of 1599.

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The second Globe, preliminary sketch (c. 1638) for Hollar’s 1647 Long View of London

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Written by LW

June 29, 2019 at 1:01 am

Sizzlin’ for the Superbowl…

 

The boys at San Francisco’s food-truck-of-choice, Bacon Bacon, have created a special treat for Superbowl Sunday, the Bacon Log:

The artery-clogging begins with a tight weave of natural thick-cut bacon strips to create a porcine blanket that’s then wrapped snugly around a savory cylinder of housemade bacon jam, ground pork & California Prairie Pastures grass-fed ground beef…

Logs are available in two sizes: six-pounds–“feeds 20” reputedly; sounds a bit thin to your correspondent, who opts for the fifteen-pounder.  They can be had (by special order, via the link above, from February 2, through Game Day) cooked or uncooked…

 

As we carefully remove the crust from the bread that we’re serving, we might recall that it was on this date in 1983 that Klaus Barbie, the “Butcher of Lyons,” was arrested in Bolivia for his crimes against humanity four decades earlier.  Gestapo chief in Occupied France, Barbie oversaw the torture, abuse, or execution of thousands of French Jews and Resistance members, and sent thousands more to their deaths in concentration camps.

As France fell, Barbie retreated to Germany, where he joined other Nazi officers to form a secret anti-Communist organization– that was recruited and ultimately annexed by the U.S. Counter-Intelligence Corps (CIC).  Barbie was a U.S. agent in Germany for two years, then in 1949 was smuggled to Bolivia, where he took the name of “Klaus Altmann” and worked both for the U.S. and for a series of military regimes.

Nazi hunters found Barbie in the early 1970s, but the military leader, Hugo “El Petiso” Banzer, refused extradition.  But in the early 80s, a more liberal regime acceded, agreeing to extradition in return for foreign aid.

Finally, in 1987, Barbie stood trial for 177 crimes against humanity. Ironically, Barbie was defended by three minority lawyers–an Asian, an African, and an Arab–who made the impassioned case that the French and the Jews were as guilty of crimes against humanity as Barbie or any other Nazi.  But as these advocates were more interested in putting France and Israel on trial than in actually proving their client’s innocence, Barbie was promptly found guilty– and sentenced to France’s most severe punishment, life in prison without parole. He died in confinement in 1991, at the age of 77.

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Written by LW

January 19, 2012 at 1:01 am

Lucha Libre!…

Mike Powell and Juergen Horn are living a peripatetic dream…

We’re lucky enough to have jobs that don’t require a steady address and since we both love traveling, we’ve decided to see the world… slowly. Always being tourists would get lame, but eternal newcomers? We can live with that. So, our plan is to move to an interesting new city, once every three months. About 91 days.

They are currently in La Paz, and are documenting their stay– from the Valley of the Moon to the inmate-run prison, San Pedro—  on their blog, for91days.com.  The highlight of the visit (at least for your correspondent) is their visit to the the local wrestling palace…

We recently attended the famous Lucha Libre at a sports facility in El Alto. Bolivians are wild for wrestling; posters of famous American wrestlers are everywhere, and you can’t go a block in La Paz without seeing seeing it on a curbside television set. Bolivia doesn’t have a professional league on the same level as the USA’s WWE, but El Alto’s Sunday afternoon Lucha Libre makes a solid substitute….

Rayo Azteco, Hombre Lobo, Mr. Atlas and Commando fought and provided plenty of fun, but the show really got going once the cholitas* were introduced. Alicia Flores was the first to enter, dressed in traditional garb, dancing around the ring to the delight of the fans. Her opponent was a guy, her assistant was a midget woman and, once the fight got going, none of them held back. Face-slapping, ball-grabbing, midget-stomping, high-flying action. It was awesome. At one point, after throwing the guy against the ropes, Alicia lifted her skirt in his face, knocking him to the canvas in shock.

The evening’s highlight was the Cholita vs. Cholita main event: Jenifer Two-Face against La Loca. No one has ever so completely owned her nickname as La Loca. This woman was crazy. As soon as the fight started, it got out of control. La Loca threw Jenifer over the barriers, into the foreigners section. Then she hopped over herself, grabbing coke bottles and spraying them over the crowd, howling like a beast. She kept at it, throwing chairs into the crowd and smashing Jenifer’s face into the bleachers just a meter away from us. Jenifer was a game fighter and brought the match back into the ring, but La Loca was just too loca. Soon enough, foreign objects had entered the melee, and the (fake) blood began to fly. With a little help from the evil ref, La Loca eventually pinned her opponent and exited the arena to the boos, whistles and shocked applause of the crowd.

* “Cholita” was coined by colonialist Spaniards as a denigration of the Andean population– in this feminine form, Andean women– but has since been adopted by the very people it was meant to injure.

 

As we practice our pins, we might recall that it was on this date in 1988 that Die Hard premiered.  Directed by John McTiernan with the precision of a Hong Kong action film, Die Hard was a huge hit; building on lead Bruce Willis’ wise-cracking TV (Moonlighting) persona, and on the precedent of Mel Gibson’s half of the “buddy duo” in the prior year’s hit, Lethal Weapon, it cemented the place of the funny, flawed hero in Hollywood action pictures.  Die Hard introduced American audiences to Alan Rickman… and, of course, made an A-List star of Bruce Willis.

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