For about twelve years from 1986 I was largely focused on food policies and agricultural development issues in West Africa, particularly the Sahel region. I worked as a researcher and consultant and for two years I was employed as a “post-doc” research coordinator at the University of Ouagadougou (1996-98). The struggles for survival and for improving livelihoods in the region were the backdrop for many assignments and around 30 trips backwards and forwards across the Sahara desert. I also worked as an environmental adviser dealing with assistance programmes in several Eastern and Southern African countries as well as in Bangladesh, Cambodia and India. In those days Latin America was unknown territory…
Then in the autumn of 2000, I was given the opportunity to shift focus and to participate in “backstopping” a series of development schemes in Bolivia. I had learnt some basic Spanish way back in the 1970s and was very pleased that I would be able to develop my language skills while getting to know the Andean world. Since then I have been to Bolivia twelve times and have been lucky enough to travel to some of the remote zones of the country, getting to know both the chills and dry air of the Altiplano as well as the sweaty humidity of the Amazon basin.
The following photos were taken during a two week assignment in 2013, when I flew from La Paz (at 3600 metres above sea level) to Riberalta near the Brazilian border (at around 360 metres above sea level). They may not be the best pictures I have taken, but they do offer a few impressions of the fantastic nature of the country, where exotic landscapes and unusual human imprints are encountered at every turn. Bolivia is a weird, wild and wonderful place!
Illimani (6438 metres) above the Altiplano at sunrise
Team on the move around Riberalta
Probably the skin of an ocelot on the wall of a restaurant in Riberalta
Skin of an anaconda hung above the dining table
Riberalta rooftops and the Rio Madre de Dios
Flower seller in La Paz
View towards the Altiplano from the Zona Sur