Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Food So Treacherous

“You won’t like that” insisted the fifty-ish woman in a heavy Chinese accent just after I had ordered the Tiger Skin Peppers.  

“Why won’t I like it?  What is it?”

“Green peppers fried with many vinegars.  You won’t like it.  Perhaps you like the Tofu with Mixed Vegetables.”

Like a little boy I found myself getting stubborn.  “No.  I want the Tiger Skin Peppers.”

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Licensing of Wind

July 2003

The wind started blowing, lifting grit and spinning it into odd shapes in the air before thrusting it against walls and skin. Normally August is the month of winds, but it started in July.  Everyone is talking about it.   The wind makes it feel cold, cold and gritty.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Empanada and Ice Cream

July 2003
We waited.  Knotted around our belongings we huddled against the crowds pouring through the open aired bus station like an end of vacation flood.  Monday morning  all the kids in Bolivia have to be back in school after their winter vacation and we threw ourselves into the current in order to get back to La Paz.  JoaquĆ­n and I had come down early Saturday morning to afternoon the station was heavily congested and every company’s desk had a thick crowd clamoring around it. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Monuments in the Valley

July 2003

The city nestled around us like a great big hen beneath the mountains that form this valley.  They circled it, making a three dimensional wall that bends and folds but always keeps the valley locked in like a very large nest.  

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Do Not Presume

La Paz, 2003

I am staying with the Escobar family in a beautiful home they have slowly built over years in a neighborhood called Santiago II which was founded with miners from other parts of  Bolivia who lost their jobs in the collapse of mining in the early eighties.  

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Enchanted by the Lights

La Paz, 2003

We arrived at night, three hours late. From near the lake, an hour out, you could see the city’s lights at the plateau’s edge glowing like a jeweled coiled snake in the night. El Alto de La Paz, by daylight is a gritty suburban city, of unfinished brick constructions and urban works gathered on the lip of this high plateau, the altiplano, that stretches between the twin ranges of the Andes. With somewhere between half a million and a million souls it is the highest city on earth. At the lip, or to change images, the plateau’s eyebrow, as it is called in local Spanish, it is above 14,000 feet high and slowly drops downward from there until the houses become scattered and empty fields claim the night.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Salvation and the River of Bones

July 2003
At eight in the morning the streets of Cusco are usually almost empty. The city seems to start later than most, maybe because it lives at night. Its cafes and clubs are full till early in the morning, especially on weekends. Tourists and students keep the colonial section of the city dancing. There aren’t many tourists this year and you can feel their absence around the Plaza.