San Pedro Prison, Bolivia

San Pedro Prison, Bolivia © Debbie and Chris

A trip to jail isn’t most people’s idea of a fun day out, but then San Pedro – found in La Paz – is no typical prison.

For starters, prisoners don’t have cells. Instead, they buy their own shelter, which ranges from a squat-like quarter to ‘five-star’ dwellings full of TVs. Many families also live with the inmates and an array of ‘businesses’ thrive inside.

And, with a firm spot of palm-greasing, it’s possible to enter this quirky place. A British inmate, Thomas McFadden (read ‘Marching Powder’), started tours in the 90s. But it was not just the voyeuristic lure that kept the tourists coming. The prison is a manufacturer of cocaine. In years past, tourists would stay inside all night, partying and snorting.

Nowadays, things are a little less liberal. Gaining entry is harder, but don’t be discouraged.

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