Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tourism, Travel, Life

Back in La Paz, I sit in my favorite Alexander’s cafe. For a little over a month, I have not been here. But it is like home. The staff greeted me and asked where I had been.

Where have I been? The question is not only relevant for them but also for this blog. I disappeared from both for a month, although the timing was a little different. Where have I been? And, why?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

On The Voice

“Let’s be the voice”--shouts the man at the microphone. His voice fills the air of Cusco’s plaza on this, the third day, of Catholic school children marching around the plaza in mass, representing their schools and hence the Church, while claiming a civic right.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Memory in a Vibrating String

The night is like a plucked string. It just recently came on stage and now it vibrates. Copacabana’s main square almost lacks room for all the people who are there to hear the night’s sound.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Notes on a Meal

The lake glowed. From where we sat its water gleamed gem-like in the sun. Around us were dahlias as big as plates and roses whose perfume pulled at the air, while we arranged ourselves on a patch of lawn.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Across the Altiplano

The altiplano is green. I can’t quit looking at it as we roll across. I have a book I should be reading. But the colors, so many different greens. The draw me in and keep from from my book.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Collapse and Memory

Thirty homes collapsed this morning in La Paz, as the cameras were rolling, when a slope decided to slide. All told more than seventy homes suddenly fell apart early this morning because of the heavy rains that are hitting much of South America. Even as I write, more homes are falling.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Feast of Desire

All night long it rained. It was still raining when I got up and went out to the street. Water ran down the paving stones as if they were the bed of a stream, instead of a public street.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Great Day

Not everyone can pronounce the word wiphala, even though it is as Bolivian as potatoes. The puff of air that is supposed to follow the p works for us English speakers (we-paula) and is a must in Aymara and Quechua, but is just not something Spanish speakers can manage without a lot of training. The aspirated p, on their tongues comes out like either a naked p, with no burst of air, or an f. In either case it sounds wrong and foreign.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Once and Future Name

Officially two cities, La Paz and El Alto join where the very high plateau crumbles into a deep gorge with very steep walls. That edge that is gradually collapsing is called the ceja, the eyebrow, as if El Alto were the crown of the head and La Paz the steep and falling cheeks against the solid jaw.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Tourists and Vampires in La Paz

Young, scruffy, and horny, a gaggle of British tourists surrounds me and ignores me while I sit in my corner in a coffee house in downtown La Paz, Bolivia.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Town is Full

Out my window it is dark. I cannot yet see the lake that extends to the horizon. But birds have begun their morning symphony. And, I hear beneath them the faint sound of some one playing a hand drum, probably someone who had to sleep on the beach because, once again, the town is full and there are no spare rooms.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Woohoo. It is summer. The air is warm. I can walk around in shirtsleeves and not feel cold in the daytime. People around me are in short sleeves and some even in shorts.