November 26th, 2005


day 18

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and was it that ritual...
or the half bottle of wine that made me feel so tired this morning?

i did some yoga

stood in the shower a long time

sat down with about 10 minutes left
to eat some fruit: banana, pineapple and papaya

talking with Walter...

noticed the big french guy with the curled mustache, shaved head, glasses
red shirt
i wanted his picture..
so i kinda followed him out of the dining room
snapped a few pics of his back
got my stuff together from my room
and posed as if i were waiting for someone ( i was )
to get some more pictures of the front of him..
i didn't really get any good ones
and he looked at me just as much as i looked at him
... and i think his wife was suspicious...

we got on the bus
and headed out of town

the day was heavy and grey
the road was bumpy
we all seemed out of sorts (as we have every morning here)
and were pretty quiet...

Sulema told us what a few things were
.. i just couldn't get my self interested.

went by a cattle market
where all the locals come to sell their cattle, alpaca, sheep, pigs, etc..
"we don't keep money in the bank," she said, " we keep money in our animals."

we stopped off at some old church or other
ribbons hanging from the ceiling for some anniversary celebration

we drove on..
to the boarder of Peru/Bolivia
on a peninsula

we had to check ourselves out of peru
walk across the border
then check into Bolivia

they tried to give us hassle for only coming for the day, saying we'd have to pay a fine if we weren't staying over night...
we were checking ourselves in (our Bolivian guide hadn't shown up yet and our two Peruvian guides were not allowed to be guides here)
so Elizabeth played Hard-Bitch and told them we'd just leave if they wanted to be like that.
it only took them a second to decide.

once through
i exchanged a $20 bill for about 157 Bolivianos
... and bought some chocolate with it..
a Snickers for Jim
and some other random things i'd never heard of before for the rest of us..

why do they need to put Partially Hydrogenated Oil in chocolate bars?
kinda gross
i'm glad i didn't eat them all by myself

we waited a while
and i was feeling slap happy...

when the bus finally came
we got on
even though our Bolivian guide never showed up..

so Sulema acted as our guide..

she said
"first, we'll go to the highest point so we can get a good view of Copacabana"

which she explained was not its real name
but something that sounded similar..
all the names here were something different
that the spanish changed
to make them easier to say..

the original name meant "the first/best view of the sea"
and similar
lake TitiKaka
used to be "TitiKala"
which meant "puma's head"

all well and good
but we never made it to the highest point:
the bus died.

the driver started it back up
made it another ten feet
then it died

tried again
another 5 feet

but it's not over
this went on about 12 times...
we decided we'd had enough
we all got off
to let him turn around ...
Except Jim

why bother?

i was just feeling silly..
we saw the view of the city enough..
if we got much higher
we'd be in the clouds..

we got back on the bus
and rode back down the hill
into the city
through narrow streets
past vendors
to the restaurant we'd have our lunch at..

filled with tourists
Walter ordered the same thing for all of us
i got him a local beer
coz he'd never had it..

it was a terrible beer...

the chili sauce was strong, though
and the fish was alright
soup was ... yeah

it was filling
and when we were having fun
... all of us were glad today was going so terribly
: it gave us a great contrast to show how the rest of the trip had gone so smoothly and wonderfully.

and while we were eating and having this conversation..
the sun had come out..
our guides had found a Bolivian guide..

he couldn't speak english
and they pulled him out of his classroom where he taught Art
but now we had one..

we walked up to the square
to the Black Madonna church..

everything in this town was owned by one guy..
the busses
the church
the hotels..

this church was completely remade a little over ten years ago..
for the tourists...

coz madonna wasn't black
and there were a million copies of her
with enough donations of costumes (they changed her clothes three times a year: never repeating a costume) to last her for 32 years...
... get into heaven..

every day they have a blessing of the cars..

the street in front of the church was filled with vendors
selling toy cars, houses, shops, grain, babies, crosses..
anything you might want in your life
buy the icon
and have the priest bless it..
but it wasn't just the priest blessing it
it was also a local Shaman


i left the tour pretty quickly
Jim hardly went along with it at all
sitting in the square..

i did follow them into a candle hall, though
smelled like urine
-- disfigured homeless people at the gate

it was all painted black
looked like a subway tunnel
... or a converted one: a bar from the 80's
candles everywhere
and luminescent blue madonna at the end.

we saw the cars being blessed...
i took some pictures of the fat guys..
then went to buy hats
... i got three different varieties for 100Bolivianos...
after shopping around a bit..
i was quite pleased..

and it was time to go..
no icecream for us, though we tried
the day had got hot and sunny
how nice..
but it was back to the bus
back to the boarder
back through the checkpoints
back into Peru
back on our buss (more pictures of fat guys first)
then on our way back to the Hotel.

such a bumpy road
the lake looked pretty
we got out on a cliff and stared at it a bit
... almost like an ocean..
but mountains over there...
and fish farms.

we let the vibration of the road lull us
but no one could sleep on that road

and back at the hotel
most packed their bags
i scrambled to copy pictures onto Metche's computer
and burn a copy of Pancho's pictures...
while writing the first half of this entry..

then Dinner
filling and overflowing as always
... we felt like a family at this point
all of us talking about our pros and cons of the trip
more pros, really
so appreciative of eachother
and Walter
deciding it was time to go to bed
... or over to the party at the new hotel down the street owned by this same company..

Elizabeth & Dietmar and Judy & i walked over with Walter..
got shown around the hotel
fancy decorations...
with little attention to detail:
in the fine wood panel finish
all of the black speed screws they had used to fix them were visible

the cheap plywood (ceiba?) along the stairs... stapled on..

but beautiful rooms!
beautiful view!
the same band that was playing last night
playing down stairs in the dining room
but dressed much nicer
all black and white

we sat upstairs on the large couches
given free drinks
pisco sour
muncha sour (mint)
something other... that tasted like Eggnog (i got that one)

and i really felt it was not my scene
after talking with Judy about her relatives and friends... and mine
we headed back up the hill
huffing and puffing
to our hotel.

i got back to the room just after Jim had layn down , i guess
he told me i could turn the light on..
so i did
and packed my things..
then took off my clothes
and lay down to rest..

but i couldn't..
the fertility temple was calling to me again...

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back in the room
i washed my hands
took off my clothes
and lay down in bed
having done my best

i was