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.