At the world’s most bizarre tourist attraction: imprisoned kids begging for candies! A must-read if you ever wondered what a South American prison looks like from the inside! Begging kids inside a prison in the Bolivian capital La Paz. It sounds freaking crazy but here you will get the chance to come up close and personal with real criminals and yet you wont feel scared. May be only a bit uncomfortable!
Visiting San Pedro Prison in La Paz, Bolivia
San Pedro is based on a model where inmates cannot leave the outer bounds of the prison, but within its four walls, they are free to move. Which results in a kind of enclosed village with stores, restaurants, sports leagues and cultural activities. That’s why once you pass the highly secured main gate, any resemblance to a normal jail disappears: there are children playing, market stalls, restaurants, hairdressers and even a hotel.
The most remarkable business is although a cocaine factory. Unfortunately you are not allowed in this section, but you can buy and try whatever you want! Or like some fellow adventurous did, become friends with a Mexican drug lord and get it all for free. Make sure you find your way out before it gets dark!
The book Marching Powder, written by Rusty Young, who locked himself up for 3 months describes best what life in this prison is about!
Obviously the tours are illegal, but there is always a way around in Bolivia. By bribing the guards at the entrance gate you will be gained access and be assigned to a group of convicts that will show you around and protect you from any possible threat! Just walk around on the square in front of the main gate. It may be takes a while but you will be approached by some people who are trying to make some money. If not try to speak to some people that hang around the gate.
Don't make them pay you a ridiculous amount. Make sure you make clear agreements about what you are going to see and if shooting pictures is allowed so there wont be any surprises when you want to walk out!
It all sounds pretty dodgy I know, but it was an amazing experience that left a deep impression!