A high-altitude clean-up in Bolivia's Valley of the Souls

LA PAZ (Reuters) - In Bolivia's Valley of the Souls, razor sharp rock formations pierce the blue sky above the nearby highland city of La Paz, from where urban sprawl over years has left the picturesque spot littered with plastic waste and construction rubble.

Now the rocky canyon is getting a clean up amid a wider push to spruce up the South American country's scenic spots and waterways, with hundreds of volunteers, aided by heavy machinery, shifting over 15 tons of debris in the last week.

"These clear-ups are important and we must continue with them because there is real momentum throughout the country," said Alex Dessard, a French volunteer.

Last month, volunteers including Dessard were cleaning Bolivia's Uru Uru lake, which was so polluted some parts were more plastic than water.

"We have to continue until there is no place with garbage left," Dessard said.

The Valley of the Souls, which is just outside administrative capital La Paz in Bolivia's mountainous Andean region, is a draw for tourists. Located 3,965 meters (13,000 ft)above sea level, it is cherished for its unusual geological formations.

But as the city has spread, it has become littered with trash and construction waste.

Rooting through piles of garbage, volunteer Carola Rejas said that people needed to speak up more in defense of nature.

"The Valley of the Souls is very special and many people have gathered together here to be a voice for nature and to get it the care and respect it deserves," she said.

Not everything the volunteers find is total junk, Rejas added, holding up a colorful abstract painting of a mountain landscape she had found.

"It's amazing how we can find jewels like this amid all these piles of rubble and garbage," she said.

(Reporting by Monica Machicao; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)

05/04/2021 16:52

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