The One I Tried to Destroy (II)

The next day:

“Hola … ”

“Ah, the beautiful señorita is back. What a surprise.”

“People don’t often come back?”

“Nobody ever comes back.”

Today the sun is up, which is another surprise. The mist is still lurking somewhere out at sea. The streets are less crowded but the everpresent droning of traffic from a million cars you can’t even see reminds you that this is Buenos Aires – a capital.

A few people have found their way to Plaza de Mayo, along with me, however …  a lone Japanese tourist, lost in his love-affair with the camera; an old man picking up garbage and putting it into a can; a smart lady talking into a cell-phone, adjusting her sun glasses … They all seem strangely upbeat even though you can’t see it directly if you look at them. They don’t smile, but they seem to be filled with some kind of … energy.

Perhaps it was an energy that only I could sense, something I longed to have myself: A sense of somewhere to go. But I saw nothing new for me in this city, after the fat mist had finally been torn away by the fierce winds I could hear outside my small room at the hostal all through the night, like they were trying to tear apart the building itself.

Nothing except him … Continue reading

New Year’s Day (IV)

In the morning it didn’t feel as if Jacob wanted to talk more about what happened.

But I didn’t feel as if he wanted to be alone either.

It just felt like he wanted us to go.

… Somewhere.

So we went, down to the beach where we bought a ticket for one of the crammed boats that would take us out into the endless blue depths of the Lake Titicaca, out to the Island of the Sun.

And after searching for a few inches of space in one of them, to sit down, we do just that. We go somewhere.

But first we sit – for a long time. We don’t talk about anything.

We just sit, in the boat, and try to ignore some slight edge of anxiousness that’s in the air.

Like we’re not going anywhere really. Just waiting. But not knowing for what. Continue reading

New Year’s Day (III)

Night …

I’m trying to sleep in spite of my stomach doing the alien-thing.

I don’t think the impatient restaurant guy washed his hands too well before he prepped those trouts for us.

And now there is noise, too.

Who in this izzy-bitsy-tiny hostel has a walk-man with the volume of a ghetto-blaster?!

With some effort I push the squeaky door open. Guess who I find out on the patio:

“Jacob, shouldn’t you be in bed?”

Continue reading

New Year’s Day (II)

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

“Are you asking me again if I believe in God?” I ask back, trying to sound neutral.

He shrugs: “ … I’m just very interested in religion.”

“So I noticed.” I give him a non-commital smile.

We’re still in Copacabana, Bolivia – not its colorful cousin in Rio. This is the cold and austere version. The one where you have trouble breathing, because you are almost 13,000 feet up in the mountains.

The Copacabana cathedral spire is standing out like white cardboard against the blazing blue sky. 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 out in the Lake Titicaca, which is where everybody is going.

But right now here we are in front of the cathedral looking at 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.

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

I just gawk – fascinated.

I mean, when this is 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? 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 second, 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. Kind of. I guess.

It happened as it always does: 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