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?”
“ … I’m sorry. I’m just very interested in religion.”
“But not religious?”
“Not as in ‘fanatical Jew’-religious, no – but I’ve taken my Bar Mitzvah, read my Torah and all the things you’re supposed to.”
“Doesn’t sound very heartfelt.”
“It wasn’t, but I do believe – just in my own way I guess.”
“And what way is that?”
“Well, take these rituals – I’m not sure they’ll work. I think it depends a lot on what goes on in the drivers’ minds and hearts and the way they themselves believe.”
“You’re saying God or the Earth Mother – I mean, Mrs. Pachamama – only hears the prayers of those who believe they will be heard?”
“No, not exactly … ”
I smile and snap some pics myself, just to do something.
“So, uh, maybe ‘God’ is not the right word. Have … you heard about the new interpretations of quantum physics?”
Who-boy. I think I could need some holy protection myself now.
“No. Can’t say that I have. Jacob.”
He doesn’t catch my drift. Maybe he is tone-deaf?
Jacob clears his throat, then sloughs on:
“There are quite a few different interpretations of what the, shall we say, manifestations of quantum physics mean – for example the fact there appears to be a way of subatomic particles to communicate that is faster than light. Maybe it means that they are part of some … universal wholeness, something that links everything and everyone together across time and space.”
I shrug: “So the existence of God or whatever is somehow supported by physics? Right … I don’t think so. And you can trust me on this one, I’ve got a mum who’s into that kind of stuff and she’s definitely not a physicist!”
“Look, I know what I am … I’m ready to get a tougher sun-screen. Up here the sun’s really hitting hard.”
“Will I see you back at the Hostal Aransaya?”
“I won’t … check out before you come back.”
Last edited: 17 Nov 2018