April 15, 2011 § Leave a comment
2 weeks on and I have reached the halfway point on my trip. After 9 days in Bolivia, passing overland amongst its bizarre landscapes and extreme weather conditions, I am ready to leave this country. The land is harsh and dry, the environment unfriendly. Although I have been travelling with a group of six in my attempt to socialize through shared experiences on the other side of the world, at this moment in time I find myself more withdrawn than ever. Perhaps it is due to my own feelings of insecurity, or constant thoughts of the issues I thought I was escaping in sydney, or that I am the only non-Caucasion. Terribly enough, I am isolating myself here as well, choosing to avoid people at breakfast and passing on nights out. It has not helped also that physically, I feel like shit. I pile layers of blankets on top of myself to try and fight the coldness of this place but it does not help. It is cold, too cold to stay here. The altitude of 4100mm has introduced waves of nausea and breathlessness. Nights are sleepless. I hope to feel better upon crossing the border to Argentina tonight.
April 10, 2011 § Leave a comment
A short exchange I had with the Bolivian driver yesterday after getting into the car.
Jose: If you like, you can even use your seatbelt. But this is Bolivia, you can do anything you want.
Jose beams at me and was very proud of that fact. A few seconds passed and another taxi speeding in our direction on my side screeches to a stop inches away from me and fist pumps at Jose to get out of the way.
Needless to say, my seatbelt was fastened tightly. Other notes to come when I get over my alleged dices with death.
April 8, 2011 § Leave a comment
It´is late in the evening local time and the air outside is still punctuated by loud explosions. They had started yesterday afternoon but I was too busy catching up on sleep to bother finding out what they were. Today, after almost 24 hours holed up in the hotel room to make up for those nights of insomnia and painful early flights, I discovered that I have come to La Paz amidst some big government protests against pay rises. This explains why the streets are filled with local police, though they just seemed to be hanging around not doing very much.
Seeing that I am alone and really can´t be fucked wandering around with a street map by myself without speaking a word of Spanish, I decided to treat myself and hire a private taxi for the day. For about $7 an hour, it was a no-brainer. The driver, Jose, spoke pretty good English, and became my very enthusiastic photographer, almost insisting that he take a photo of me in very place we stopped. At times I politely declined. He seemed pleased that he had a knack for composition, which meant I was smack right in the middle of every photo, also meaning that one can´t see too much of the background.
As the day rolled on, other than Bolivia´s breathtaking natural topography, much of the city is poor, polluted, and underdeveloped. Roads are rough, buildings unfinished, and I became convinced that the city thrives on some sort of ordered chaos. Traffic was not unlike Egypt, with no rhyme nor reason whatsoever, with people generally walking right in front of moving vehicles with no apparent regard for their own personal safety. Children seemed to have the same attitude. I was terrified.
For once, I got to sample some local cuisine, some chicharron, which is basically deep fried pork with loads of fat, black potatoes, and some kind of giant grain which I don´t remember the name of. It tasted alright, but I am yet to be impressed with South American food. Perhaps I am a little spoilt with Malaysian and Australian food. Tomorrow I go to Tiahuanacu, and ancient Inca site.