San Pedro prison, La Paz By Courtney Shergold

We arrived in La Paz & the city was breathtaking - parts of the city 4000m+. The markets, the people, the travellers, the nightlife, all amazing. To make it even crazier, in a country that functions on bribery and drugs. I had read the book Marching Powder, and wanted to see if it was true - that you could tour San Pedro prison.

We spent first couple of days drinking & partying with other travellers, then we asked around about the San Pedro tour. We had to go to front of the prison & a middle aged South African woman would come out & tell us how to get in. We were spotted by the woman in minutes. We had to pay 150 Boliviano's (USD$30) & next thing I knew a prison guard with a shotgun was opening an iron gate for us. We got a cross drawn on our arm, the gate slammed shut and we were in. With 4 inmates as body guards we got led around the prison, mingling with gen population (murderers among them). Prisoners had to purchase their cells, starting at USD$1000 and some even had their families in there. No $=No cell.

Conditions with no cell were indescribable. The more money prisoners had the more they ate, the better their cell and they could even go for a night out on the town with a guard. We saw areas of the prison talked about in the book, and we were even offered some of Bolivia's finest in a cell at end of the tour - I will say no more! Not many places you can tour a prison in gen population but Bolivia you can - true story. One of the most corrupt countries I've visited.


in Bolivia

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