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Monday, November 19, 2007


decided to take it easy today after mailing a small box of souvenirs back to thailand for $80! i chose for lunch to take the advice from the chapter of 'frommer's' guide to bolivia that i had stolen from someplace along the way, and went to eat lunch at the top of the hotel presidente, which has a glass wall with gorgeous 360 degree views of la paz. it was quite posh and i felt a little silly being there, but it was excellent. i ordered the most succulent grilled trout i have ever had, with boiled potatoes, a great soup and salad bar, and even a buffet of desserts included. definitely the best food i have had on my trip. i left stuffed to wander around the city a bit.

view of la paz from the top of hotel presidente

ran into reynaldo, the grubby artisan boy (man really) who has appeared around just about every corner of every place i have been since cusco, wearing the same gray sweater. i wondered absently if he was following me. i haven't let him get too close but i think he likes that. we sat on the steps at the top of the hill across from some curious, rosy cheeked vendors, his meager offerings of twisted silver wires and stones of inferior quality laid out on the road to meet the indifference of passersby. i have met a thousand reynaldos in my travels, but that doesn't stop me from falling in love with every one. we had a good chat. i kept getting frustrated by my inability to string together complete sentences in spanish, and he would pause and stare at me until i was uncomfortable. he told me i had "ojos locos" (crazy eyes) but insisted this was a good thing in latino culture, of which i was skeptical. people kept stopping by to say hi to him, including a cracked out, skanky girl with food in her teeth from buenos aires, a couple of smiley bolivian artisans with long scraggly hair and sandals, a pregnant gringa wearing an alpaca poncho and no makeup, and toting the requisite local boy. i declined all offers of food and drink and left reluctantly with a lot of things unsaid when my shivering became too big an obstacle for further conversation. i could tell he was frustrated that i was noncommital about meeting again. it didn't occur to me until i got back to my nice room that i am the only one reynaldo hadn't tried to sell something to, and i wondered sadly where he was sleeping at night. if i see him again i will unobtrusively slip him a bill or two... not so much out of pity as friendship.

view of san francisco cathedral from my hostal window


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