New Year’s Day (II)

Copacabana Cathedral (Bolivia) - (c) user Anakin @ Wikipedia


The Copacabana cathedral spire is stands like a white cardboard cut-out against the blazing blue sky. I’m almost used to the thin mountain air now, although I still feel kind of light-headed. 

I try to concentrate on the two dozen or so bulky Bolivian drivers waiting patiently to get their trucks sprinkled with holy water by the priest.

The Benedicion de Movilidades occurs daily and Jacob insisted that we went to see it, before crossing over to Isla del Sol. So here we are in front of the cathedral checking out all the cars, trucks and buses lined up to receive a cha’lla, a ritual blessing – some odd combo of the local Pachamama-worship and reluctant Catholicism. And so they spray booze on the cars (that’s the holy water if you sacrifice to Pachamama), but they do it in front of the Church of the Holy Virgin.

Anyway, when it’s all over the vehicles and their drivers should be protected against driving on some of the world’s most dangerous roads, all of which are here in Bolivia … I wonder if they are protected against their own thirst for strong liquor?

Jacob snaps one pic after another with his tiny but very pro-looking camera.

“Do you think the blessing will protect them?” he suddenly asks, still looking at the procession.

“Are you asking me again if I believe in God?” Continue reading

New Year’s Day (I)

“I was wondering … do you believe in God?”

“Excuse me?”

“Do you believe in God?”

“Jacob – we’re about to eat.”

“Well, if that’s a problem … ”

I ignore his last comment; my gaze concentrated at the menu. Jacob seems confused for a sec, then looks straight through me, into some kind of world in the empty restaurant behind me that only he can see. 

He’s an okay guy, though. We got to sit next to each other on the bus from Puno in Peru to Copacabana here in Bolivia. By the time we were ready to stand in line like cows at the cramped border-station to get out tourist visas, we just sort of drifted together once more.

Preemptive insanity protection, you know; if I hadn’t had someone to talk to during that hour, I’d have gone positively loco, as they say here. Because Bolivians apparently seem to think that efficiency rhymes with multiplicity. So if you need three stamps in your passport, for example, it is obvious that you also need three persons for the job – one to give each stamp – and one long line to get each stamp.

“What’ll you have?” I ask him again. Continue reading

Across Icy Pools

Siobhan could not stop thinking about Carrie. Why had she left without a word?

True, it had been in the air the night before, she had to concede that now that it was bright day again and the previous night out stood clearer in her mind, as if some of that daylight had shone back 24 hours to illuminate why that strange – but very sympathetic – girl, Carrie Sawyer, had chosen to just … leave. Continue reading

Islands In The Mind

Her name’s Siobhan – (21, Cape Breton, Canada) –  and she’s been my travelling mate for about half an hour.

That is, if we are going anywhere at all.

Because if we are not going anywhere, maybe we are not mates at all?

Maybe we were just both feeling a bit lonesome after a long time on the road, and maybe we both happened to need a chat at the same time, while struggling to make the ancient computer at the hostal Margarita send an e-mail before it went into another coma.

And maybe we just both gave up at the same time, one of us just going ‘fuck it – I’m going to grab something to eat. Hey – want to come?’

And next we both went out in to the slightly chaotic but rather grey and soulless streets of this near-border town, but didn’t feel hungry anyway and decided to stroll the harbor instead.

But isn’t that enough to be travel mates, even if it only last for a few precious hours one random evening in your life? Continue reading