Centuries later, what remains of the chasqui is a young and heroic icon of mythic quality; no longer a physical reality, he runs non-stop through the imaginations of locals young and old. But beyond the legend, the chasqui heritage may even be imprinted onto the Bolivian genetic makeup. Studies from the 1930s to the present day suggest that Andean natives have larger chest structures than lowlanders, and it has also been proposed that those born and raised at altitude can cope better with the otherwise crippling lack of oxygen. Over the past two decades, altitude was believed to represent such a disadvantage to foreign teams that FIFA temporarily banned international football games in La Paz. This ban was lifted in 2008, and in a twist of irony the Bolivian team went on to immediately resurface the debate through a victory of unexpected proportions. In their first home game in La Paz they gave their mighty Argentinean opponents a resounding 6–1 beating. It was the first time Bolivia had experienced such a football victory over the Argentineans, and one which meant a great deal to a country whose history has been defined by the perpetual loss of wars, the sea, and Bolivian territory.
Upon these planes and valleys which rise to triple the height of Britain’s tallest mountain peak, innumerable histories have been shaped by the thin and occasionally inhospitable air of the Andes. Like chasquis, this month we rush to bring you stories of sport, dance, and movement at altitude.
Turn the page and take it in. Race through the issue, but remember to catch your breath.
ARTICLES FROM THIS ISSUE
Too few to tango?
05 May, 2012 | Helena Cavell
When you think of tango, Bolivia is not the first country that immediately comes to mind. Instead, you think of Argentina, where the dance has evolved over the years into a source of national identity...
A new beginning for Bolivia's disabled?
15 May, 2012 | Roisin Mendonca
A group of Bolivia's disabled population has been exposed to a totally unique experience in which heavy medication has been replaced with stimulation and motivation. This distinctive space, a multisen...
Earning my stripes
05 May, 2012 | Patrick Dowling
I never expected animal crossings in downtown La Paz. But a walk past San Francisco church between 8 and 10 am would make anyone take a second look. In the heart of the city, young adults dressed as z...
Get your moto running
15 May, 2012 | Taj Davis
In spite of the rally's remote location in the poorest country in South America, it's all made possible through a great love of the sport. The motorbikes came on the backs of pickup trucks, towed...
Run, gringo, run!
05 May, 2012 | Helena Cavell
Altitude is a killer: The personal experience of an English girl living in La Paz I took my first steps through El Alto airport feeling like a brick was weighing down on my chest... I was...