Entertainment

Bolivia Is One Of The Most Underrated Countries In Latin America And These Things To Do Prove It

The landlocked country of western-central South America has gained a reputation for a few things. It has one of the worlds biggest tributes to Jesus, great food and strong historical ties to the Incan Empire. But did you know that it has some of the most fascinating deserts, markets, and churches in the world? Take a look at this list of 23 of the most incredible attractions to see in Bolivia and we’ll bet it’ll change your mind about that trip to Australia this summer.

1. Bolivian Salt Flat

CREDIT: @purepoz / Instagram

Pure salt stretches far across Bolivia in the 3,800 square-smile regions of the country’s southwest. Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat contains endless sheets of hexagonal tiles and salt pyramids.

2. The Witches Market

CREDIT: @amyogradyperth / Instagram

The country’s popular tourist destination has witches in dark hats selling dead animals for good luck. It’s located on Calle Jiminez and Linares.

3. Horca del Inca

CREDIT: @louise_cllrd / Instagram

When Spaniards invaded Latina America in the 16th century they battered nearly everything they could find insight and renamed figures that held massive cultural significance. Horca del Inca, which means Gallows of the Inca, is a great example of this. The Horca is actually not a gallows but was originally pre-Incan astronomical observatory and gave the Chiripa people who created it a cahnce to study astronomy.

4. Salvador Dalí Desert

CREDIT: @totweettowho / Instagram

There’s no way any one who goes to this desert will ever consider it to be anything BUT surreal. It’s wind-swept lands will give you all types of Dalí vibes.

5.Museo de la Coca

This museum is dedicated to the sacred leaf of the Andes. The museum does its best to put an end to the bad name that the coca leaf has developed and educate patrons on the history of the leaf long before it became know for producing cocaine.

6. Cementerio General

CREDIT: @spineless.cactus / Instagram

La Paz’s massive cemetery is almost the size of a city in itself and features the deceased stored away in rows of buildings that resemble apartments.

7. Sajama Lines

CREDIT: @the.alien.diary / Instagram

These mysterious geoglyphs stretch miles and miles acrossthe Bolivian desert. You can find them near Bolivia’s highest point: Nevado Sajama volcano.

8. Cholita Wrestling

CREDIT: @ohanni / Instagram

Tough chicas in traditional petticoats and frills take on the parts of fierty luchadores of La Paz in this arena.

9. Potosí Silver Mines

CREDIT: @chrisperrycsp / Instagram

The capital of the Bolivian state sits at a height of 4,000 meters is one of the hightest cities in the world. 

10. San Pedro Prison

CREDIT: @maxschaapman / Instagram

Bolivia’s largest mega prison acts like a city much more than prison in some ways. The well-known Bolivian correctional facility allows wives and children to live with imprisoned relatives as they ride out their sentences. Prisoners pay for their own cells that look like small apartments.

11. La Paz Cebritas

CREDIT: @kellypalacios.lml / Instagram

In La Paz, Bolivia traffic is no joke. There’s a  huge problem and most of it starts with the fact that people use traffic lights as a suggestion rather than a demand. Thanks to a group of plush wearing zebras the number of traffic incidents in the city has steadily decreased.

12. Carnival de Oruro

CREDIT: @swaze_1 / Instagram

This religious festival dates back to over 200 years and takes place in Oruro, Bolivia. The indigenous festival incorporates a Christian ritual around the Virgin of Candelaria and takes place on March 2nd.

13. Alasitas Festival

During this Bolivian festival, patrons wish for whatever they want a by buying miniature versions of their desires.  In the image above, a miniature mustachioed ceramic figurine, called Ekeko, represents the South American God of good fortune.

14. Mi Teleférico

CREDIT: @al3_crespo / Instagram

Tinku, a Bolivian Aymara tradition, has origins in a tradition that goes back to the days of the Spanish Conquistadors. It takes place each year in May when farming communities of the region take part in bloody hand to hand combat.

15. Tinku

CREDIT: @6lia.6dead6 / Instagram

A giant, bloody battle rages throughout the Bolivian Andes each year.Great Train Graveyard. In the Bolivian Aymara tradition, tinku has its origins in a ritualistic form of combat dating back to the time of the Spanish Conquistadors, who arrived in the region of Potosí and enslaved the indigenous population. Not one to give up dancing in the face of oppression, since that day tinku has proved the cathartic exercise of choice for the Aymara and Quechua peoples.

16. Mission Church of San Xavier

CREDIT: @mr_hanft / Instagram

This  18th-century church is one of Bolivia’s few surviving Jesuit missions. Visitors of the church are immediately welcomed by bright colors and patterns.

17. Cristo de la Concordia

CREDIT: @june_laborda / Instagram

This famous giant Christ figure was inspired by a visit from Pope John Paul II. Construction on it started in 1987 and ended in 1944. For a while, it held the title of “World’s Largest Christ Statue.”

18. Great Train Graveyard

CREDIT: @octivec / Instagram

Bolivia’s train cemetery lies on the outskirts of a desert trading village located on the Andean plain. The region is so massive and populated by so many locomotives you might start to wonder if all of the trains in South America were moved here.

19. Valle de La Luna

CREDIT: @schmiedmariophoto / Instagram

There’s no view like one at the “Valley of the Moon” where a carpet of monoliths rise up from the Bolivian desert. The area is said to be named by Neil Armstrong and look about as close to the moon as a place on earth can get.

20. Dinosaur Dance Floor

CREDIT: @imagesforjoy / Instagram

Forget what you’ve heard about the dinosaurs. The moment you come to the largest site of dinosaur footprints on earth, which includes over 5,000 tracks, you’ll feel transported to an era where the oldest giants really did exist.

21. Laguna Colorada

CREDIT: @brianstowell / Instagram

This lake located 4,000 meters above sea level is a home to rare flamingos. And that’s no filter on the picture above, the colors of the region stand out immediately because the lake is tinged with red algea.

22. North Yungas Road

CREDIT: @mustvisitthisplace / Instagram

The “Death Road” of Bolivia has been the location of various accidents and included on the planets list of most dangerous routes. The road was built in the 190s by prisoners from Paraguay.

23. Valle de las Animas

CREDIT: @anibalaguilarcuba / Instagram

These needle-like rock formations were formed out of mudrock and erosion over a series of hundreds of years. Bolivia’s highest mountain, Illimani, towers in the background at 15,000 feet.

24. Palacio de Sal

CREDIT: @nicolascuneo / Instagram

This famous and beautiful hotel is located right on the edge of the salt flats. Perhaps its most intersting quality is the fact that it is built with materials only made from around it.


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Jharrel Jerome Made History By Being The First Ever Afro-Latino To Win An Emmy For Acting And His Acceptance Speech Made Latinos Everywhere Cry Their Hearts Out

Entertainment

Jharrel Jerome Made History By Being The First Ever Afro-Latino To Win An Emmy For Acting And His Acceptance Speech Made Latinos Everywhere Cry Their Hearts Out

Jharrel Jerome - 71st Emmy Awards - Press Room / Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

Another glass ceiling has finally been broken in Hollywood. On Sunday night, Dominican-American actor Jharrel Jerome became the first-ever Afro-Latino actor to win an Emmy for acting. Jerome won the award for his work in the Ava Duverney limited series “When They See Us”, where he portrayed the wrongly-convicted Korey Wise. 

“When They See Us” is a Netflix-helmed production that revolves around the case of Raymond Santana, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Korey Wise, and Yusef Salaam–a group of black and Latino young men who were wrongly convicted for the rape and assault of a female jogger. Jerome played the part of Korey Wise, the oldest of the group, and the only member who was forced to serve his term in the adult prison system. Years later, the true assailant admitted to the crime and the men were released from prison. 

The limited-series has been praised for “adding a necessary layer of humanity” to the boys’ stories and challenging viewers to “reconsider what it means to find justice in America.”

The win was one of the most emotional wins of the night, with the audience erupting into applause and getting to its feet when Jerome won.

Notably among the audience were the members of “The Central Park Five”, whom Jerome referred to in his speech as “The Exonerated Five”. The men gave Jerome a standing ovation along with the rest of the crowd, all of them visibly emotional. Korey Wise, the man Jerome portrayed, was shown with tears running down his face during Jerome’s acceptance speech.

Jerome started the speech saying that he feels he should be “in the Bronx right now, chillin,’ waiting for my mom’s cooking, but I’m here”. He then went on to thank his family for their support, including his mother and his father. He lapsed into Spanish at one point, pointing to the sky and telling his deceased grandfather “te quiero”. Finally, he dedicated his award “Most importantly, this is for the men that we know as The Exonerated Five. Thank you so much. It’s an honor and a blessing.”

The win was a shock to audience and critics alike, as the category was stacked with heavy-hitters.

The competition was stiff among the limited-series nominees, with household names like Benecio Del Toro, Hugh Grant, Mahershala Ali, and Jared Harris among the actors. Jerome thanked his fellow nominees at the beginning of his speech, saying that he was “here with his inspirations” with people he was “so motivated by”. The win was not only surprising because of Jerome’s status as a newcomer, but also his age–the youngest actor ever to win in this category. 

The significance of the occasion was not lost on Jerome, who said that he hoped it was a “step forward for Dominicans, for Latinos, for Afro-Latinos” in a backstage interview.

Backstage, Jerome was also candid about the impact of black and brown stories, and how their power lies in the truth they portray. “I think our strongest stories are the stories of pain, considering that’s what we go through on a regular basis,” he said. “I think the truth is our pain needs to be told.”

Always on board to celebrate the accomplishments of la Raza, Latinxs took to Twitter to express their joy at Jerome’s win. 

Naturally, the news is cause for celebration. After all, it’s not every day that a young Dominican Afro-Latino from the Bronx wins an Emmy. Especially when he’s pitted against Oscar-winners and industry favorites.

This Latina took to Twitter to emphasize the significance of this event:

With Jerome’s win, history was literally made on Sunday night–that fact can’t be stated enough.

Even Lin Manuel Miranda got in on the action, expressing his pride:

It turns out that Miranda and Jerome had met before. What a beautiful example of Latinos supporting other Latinos!

This Latino was overcome with all of the emotion he was feeling from Jerome’s win.

It’s hard to express the pride one feels when seeing someone from their tribe make an impact on the world. This is why representation on our screens is so important.

This Dominicana had a thing or two to say about black and Latinx intersectionality:

Jerome’s win is the perfect teachable moment for people (included Latinxs) who struggle with the fact that there are black Latinos out there. 

This Latina suggested a nation-wide day off for Dominican-Americans.

We don’t hate that idea. Every step forward should be celebrated. 

Congratulations to Jharrel Jerome for a much-deserved win. We’re sure that we’ll be seeing him on our screens for years to come.

New Safety Measures In The Dominican Republic Following American Deaths

Things That Matter

New Safety Measures In The Dominican Republic Following American Deaths

Joe deSousa / Flickr

It’s only common sense that tells you to watch your back when you travel, no matter where you go. After all, tourists are prime targets for scams, pickpockets, and the like. And sure, sometimes certain places give you a bad dose of something, which leaves you making best friends with the toilet bowl for a good 24 hours. But, what you most likely don’t anticipate is having to contend with death – and after the deaths of 11 American tourists in the Dominican Republic, officials have been scrambling to deal with the fallout.

New safety measures are being rolled out to protect and assist American tourists visiting the Dominican Republic.

Credit: Chrissy Anderson / Pinterest

The reason why we know this is because officials from the Dominican Republic, along with the US Ambassador, gathered in New York City to announce the new initiatives to be put in place. Talking to the media at the Four Seasons Hotel in Manhattan, the Dominican Republic’s Minister of Tourism, Javier Garcia, said that the proposed safety measures are designed to address safety issues reported to be at the center of the tourists’ deaths. Granted, even though the safety measures were only recently announced, it’s likely that these initiatives have been in the works for a while – so here’s hoping that they’ve hashed out all the little details, and see some success!

So what was said in the announcement?

Credit: YouTube / Daily Mail

Well, there were four main changes that are gonna be made in the Dominican Republic. Firstly, the plan is to reinforce mandates requiring that both emergency information and 911 be available in guest rooms. A new emergency tourist center, manned by multi-lingual staff, is to be constructed in Bávaro, Punta Cana. The aim behind this initiative is to ensure that, should there actually be an emergency, then there is plenty of help on hand. It’s great to see that they’ve considered language barriers, too, as navigating them can be the difference between life and death in an emergency.

Improved access to emergency services is not all that’s been announced.

Credit: ecolab_inc / Instagram

The Ministry of Tourism also announced a partnership with Ecolab, a U.S.-based water, hygiene, and energy technology developer. Ecolab has been brought on board as a training and certification provider for current and would-be Department of Tourism, Services and Companies inspectors. The benefit of this partnership is that the U.S. tends to set acceptable standards for lots of industries, worldwide. Granted, we’re not here to go down that rabbit hole and judge whether that’s a good or a bad thing. Rather, it’s important to acknowledge the line of thinking that if inspectors from the Department of Tourism, Services, and Companies have been trained to what’s synonymous with a world-class standard, at what they do.

This means inspectors who are good at their job ensuring that accidents don’t happen.

Credit: hdcamerasusa / Instagram

In terms of more general security, our man Garcia also announced that 4,000 agents would be hired across the tourist security agency and the national police. Beyond manpower, 3,000 additional public security cameras are to be installed. On the one hand, this indicates a considerable boost to security resources within the Dominican Republic. On the other hand, not many specifics were mentioned around this new personnel and cameras. For example: where exactly would these agents and cameras be stationed? It’s no good if they’re just added to the current roster of security resources, without any thought about how they could make an impact. It’s no good placing a camera in a busy thoroughfare if it’s not really an area where any crime occurs in the first place, right?

The US Ambassador to the Dominican Republic was on board with the announcement.

Credit: lavozdegaliciard / Instagram

Robin Bernstein reminded the press that the U.S. State Department maintains a level-two advisory on travel to the Dominican Republic – a standard that’s also been applied to countries such as Spain, Denmark, and Belgium. In fact, she declared that the deaths of the American tourists in the Dominican Republic fueled an “unfounded negative campaign,” which has created a “tourism crisis” for the country. “American tourists should feel safe and secure,” Bernstein said. “I am totally comfortable with [the Dominican Republic’s] safety level, it is one of the safest tourist destinations I have ever visited. In fact, it has now become an even safer place to come because of the initiatives.”

The ambassador is cautiously optimistic about the long-term benefits of these safety measures.

Credit: asonahores / Instagram

While the Ambassador indicated that she has full faith in the safety standards of the Dominican Republic, she also addressed the reports that tainted alcohol had lead to the deaths of U.S. tourists. “If it was alcohol, people would be dropping like flies,” Bernstein said. “It is not alcohol.” However, she did not offer an alternative explanation as to why the deaths occurred.

Not all of the deaths have been attributed to compromised alcohol.

Credit: hrhcpuntacana / Instagram

That doesn’t mean that concerns haven’t been raised around the alcohol provided at hotels in the Caribbean country. Back in June, Hard Rock Hotel and Casino announced that it would remove liquor dispensers from the guest rooms at its Punta Cana location. Apparently, this was due to “guest feedback” and an effort to “enhance safety moving forward.” From there on in, all alcohol onsite would be brand-name and sourced from the U.S. – bar specialty beverages from the Dominican Republic. Hard Rock also announced that it would be contracting a U.S. third party organizations to assist with inspecting and testing the location’s food and beverages. Seems that it’s a bit of overkill for just merely responding to customer feedback.

Some think that the timing seems a little too coincidental to think otherwise.

Credit: av1ation / Instagram

In addition to the Hard Rock Hotel’s change in company policy, Delta Airlines also decided to give its customers a bit of leeway with their flights. The most recent death of 46-year-old Denver resident, Khalid Adkins, on July 25 triggered an announcement from Delta Airlines that the airline would allow travelers with tickets to Punta Cana to cancel or reschedule their flights “due to recent events” – a euphemism for the deaths that have occurred in the region. 

Despite the reactions of these companies to the deaths, the facts still say that the Dominican Republic is a relatively safe holiday destination.

Credit: artbyheathercutts / Instagram

For anyone who is planning to travel to the Dominican Republic, it’s worth thinking about this: last year, about 13 U.S. citizens died in the Dominican Republic. In 2017, the figure was 17 deaths. So, the rate of deaths is actually decreasing for U.S. citizens traveling to the Caribbean island. The Dominican Republic saw more than 2.7 million visitors from the U.S. in 2017.

Yet, it is always important to feel safe and comfortable when traveling.

Credit: airportag / Instagram

At the end of the day, there’s just not enough information out there to really say how many of the deaths could be connected – or if they were connected at all, save the fact that these US tourists traveled to the same place. Some of the US citizens who died did so due to car accidents, or heart conditions – things that, unfortunately, happen all too common in the US, too. However, some of the deaths are yet to have a particular cause attributed to them. A few of them have occurred after the tourist was drinking, exhibiting symptoms such as excessive vomiting. And, okay, entirely possible that authorities are genuinely still investigating the causes of the deaths, or even keeping the cause of the deaths quiet out of respect for the families of the victims. But, the moral of the story is that it never hurts to exercise caution when you’re in traveling overseas, babes.

READ: Dominicans Are Taking To Social Media To Make Sure That People Stop Trying To Cancel The Dominican Republic