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  • Bolivia in a heart-beat

    We are alive an well. Thank God. I don’t mean to stress anyone out with that (don’t worry mom) but some events of the last few weeks had me wondering if I’d pull through to another day. Well… one event, really. Do you remember my tale of the phsycadellic cactus, San Pedro?? We ran aross him again in La Paz, Bolivia for 15 Bolivianos (approx. $2) in a witches market. But, I’m getting ahead of myself…

    After leaving the tourist town of Cusco, Peru, we hopped on a morning bus to Puno, a strange little town on the coast of Lake Titicaca. We did some of the gringo trail must-sees like the floating islands of Uros, and Isla Taquile… all well and interesting. We bought necklaces and ate the Tortora plant. But I also spent a considerable portion of the boat journey talking with one of the natives of Isla Taquile, who told me about the strange hat and dress customs of the people, the economy and social structure of the island, and about his adventures with an american journalist who wrote a story about him. That was by far the highlight of the trip. I gave him the rest of my coca leaves and told him that if he checks out my site and drops me a message I’ll send him a Spanish-English textbook, which are hard to find around there. I hope he does.

    Then we said adios to Peru and hola to Bolivia. Copacabana was the first destination… which was one of the strangest experiences we’ve had so far. Bolivia is by far poorer than it’s neighbors, which would have been great for us, since things are cheaper, if only we could access our money. Oddly enough, the town turns off it’s electricity until 6pm on Mondays. And no electricity means no $$. So after arriving on Sunday night, we drop 90% of our money on a room… then stumble around the town as the realization slowly crystalizes that we don’t have enough money to eat dinner. Frustrated, we buy a couple bananas and some crackers and go home to sleep off the hunger.

    The next day, Lada rustles up $3 USD, which we go exchange at a considerable loss for 16 Bolivianos. This being just enough to get an early local bus out of town, we decide to go for it and head for the metropolis of La Paz. At this point we no longer have any guide books to give us advice and things to look out for, so travelling is now a bit more like I think it should be: completely unknown. I’m excited, Lada’s a bit worried, and the 4 screaming brats on the bus with us are having an annoyingly good time. That’s another thing I find strange- people here don’t discipline their kids. The little turds are screaming, singing, making those curiously loud incomprehensible noises, and the parents are just ignoring them… or even encouraging that behavior!! I don’t get it. When I was a little bastard like that my parents told me to shut it, to the relief of all others. Have people here become immune to the ear-piercing nightmare of un-muzzled children?? What a scary thought. With the overabundance of children in these parts, it might have been necessary for continued happiness. Perhaps they should teach classes on how to not hate children and their passive parents to those unaccustomed. I’d take them in a heart beat.

    Anyway we arrive in La Paz a few hours later at the Cemetary, which is where all the gringos get had. Promptly, the ‘Tourist Police’ accost us with precautionary tales of fake tourist police trying to get their hands on our passports. Of course now we don’t know whether to be happy there are tourist police, or nervous that there’s an apparent need for them. Shrugging that off, we make our way to a nearby cash machine with two armed guards standing infront of it. Surely their shotguns and grimmaces will deter theives… they do, and we get money and find a hostel. La Paz, man… that’s a busy, loco town.

    Jake, a funny kid from San Fransisco, meets us there later than night. He did the Machu Picchu trek with us. So we catch up and exchange travel stories over a couple locally micro-brewed beers. The next day, as we walking around trying to shrug off the hangover, we come across San Pedro in a side street called the witches market…

    Theme: Esquire by Matthew Buchanan.