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balance (2): bolivian time

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

bolivian time

after my breakfast at luna's with a nice boy from finland(! -my favorite, except unfortunately he wasn't gorgeous), i had to tramp all over town to find an atm that would work. finally, cash in hand, i checked out of my hotel and into a taxi towards villa fatima, a chaotic, rather sketchy neighborhood in which i had to wait quite a while (dodging pickpockets and wayward touts) for a bus to coroico. there was a tiny puppy choking on it's leash, and to make things worse some stupid little bolivian girl kept picking it up by it's neck. i snatched it away from her and it snuggled up against my belly to keep me warm as i waited. the little girl ran to tattle to her parents, who ignored her, and i smirked and stuck my tongue out at her at every opportunity for the next hour. finally, an hour after the bus was scheduled to leave (apparently completely normal in bolivian thinking), i was able to board the bus. i was the only white person and a subject of much fascination. and then we were off... for about ten minutes before we stopped again, for no apparent reason. and then off! again for another ten minutes before the next stop. hoardes of old women in plaited hair wearing thick skirts came running towards our windows carrying baskets of fried chicken and plantains. i was seriously annoyed at the fact that i couldn't get my window open so i could purchase some. i sulked as the driver hopped in and off! we went until the next stop, another ten minutes later, this time for a drug check by ominous policemen carrying huge rifles and mace. finally we were off for real. coroico is a city set in the yungas, a semi-tropical area in the mountains beyond la paz. it is famous for being reached by the world's most dangerous road. i don't think that was the road we were on until the last 10 kilometers or so of my trip, but those 10 kilometers were quite enough for me thank you. otherwise the trip, though set along dizzying heights overlooking deep, lush canyons, was really beautiful. the fog clung to the mountain peaks and huge condors kept swooping in and out of the clouds. the cliffs were lined with fruit trees and assorted flora. about halfway through the ride a thick waisted lady plopped down with a happy little infant wrapped in about 18 layers of woolen things. only her pink cheeks poked out, under dark, serious eyes. she alternated between staring at me with her goofy grin and grabbing at her mother's swollen, proffered breast. i begrudgingly liked her, and her mother with her gold capped smile (a trend in rural bolivia, apparently) was pretty endearing too. she and another old lady kept patting my shoulder and saying what a nice gringa i was.


view from my hotel balcony of coroico

finally we arrived in coroico, a small town perched at the edge of the cliffs with amazing views! i hopped off the bus and into a taxi up the mountain to my hotel- esmeralda. my room is pretty amazing, with a balcony overlooking the canyon. there is a spa, a pool, a game room, and a decent buffet restaurant which i can visit at any time. i was grumpy though that both their wifi internet (which i had been anticipating for a week) and their cable tv were not working. my plans to indulge in both were shattered. with no good book to read either (a serious lack of english reading material so far in south america), i was feeling greatly at a loss. i stuffed some good food down my throat and stomped off to my room just as the fog rolled in and it began to drizzle. turns out no tv and internet is a good thing- who'da thunk it? i ended up going through my computer reading through old writings, including the backbone of an autobiography i have been meaning to flesh out for years (but what would i do with it? i learned with this website long ago that if you put yourself out there completely you will be scavenged for all you are worth! i am tempted, though, not to be bothered by that fact). i also read back through old letters between x and i, smiling nostalgically and feeling excited that i may be able to take a little side trip from buenos aires and go meet him in rio in a couple of weeks. i also looked over a few old websites i started and never completed, and realized that i waste a lot of my time these days online and watching tv, and there are many other things i could be doing with myself. lesson learned. i went back downstairs for dinner to find the dining room full of candlelit tables around which were loving couples and large families. i felt way too awkward sitting alone amongst them so i pretended to look for something at the other side of the room and ran back to my little room feeling absolutely foolish, and hungry. decided nevertheless to sleep it off.

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