Sunday, January 29, 2012

testing my limits, and enjoying the hot chocolate

I woke up today surprised to remind myself that my current address is Bolivia. Bolivia did come as a surprise, we thought we might come through the country...but really it was a last minute route change. Not super easy on the budget either...granted it is cheap here. 6.94 bolivianos to $1. but for U.S. citizens it´ll cost you $135. just to stand on bolivian soil, more of a political move than anti tourism stance.

Our first few days in the country we spent on the banks of lake Titikaka in Copacabana. A hippy-traveller saturated town. Turns out most of the young dreadlocked type use it as a resupply spot, as most of them live on the Isla del Sol. The locals, however kept us all wondering...they were not the friendliest folks we met, would this "welcoming attitude" continue throughout. We figured and hoped many heavily tourist towns are, the locals could care less...if you wont buy their goods (at notably raised prices) 50 more extranjeros behind you surely would.

Our bus to La Paz was cool...somewhere in the middle the bus stopped and people started to get off, but not grab any of their luggage. I kept hearing "embarco" which means boat, all the more strange. So we filled off with everyone else, where we saw a small ferry for our large bus and small boats for us to board. Crossing the lake we landed in a plaza with packs of dogs, and drunken men trying walk or get on random buses. We watched our bus land and reloaded to endure a very bumpy ride into La Paz.

I always feel our angels and travel fairies are with us when such remarkable luck happens. Our friend Janelle is here in La Paz and we were hoping to meet up with her. But none of us have phones fro this country, so it takes a series of emails and timing to make that happen. We sent her a message and said when we would be coming in...that´s it! Our taxi driver couldn´t find our hostel after driving around for a while he just dropped us off on the corner it was supposed to be on. We walked one direction...the wrong one, then was redirected by a nice couple to the right location, where while we were standing waiting for the door to open who should walk by!! She was just coming from the bus terminal....had it been 1 or 2 minutes more or less we would have missed her, maybe completely!

So here we are in La Paz...a very busy and bustling capital. We´ve had some great food so far, and the people are very friendly! Yet as I write this Michael is sleeping off a stomach illness and Robin is fighting a chest cold. Today Robin and Xylia have gone to see a local wrestling match "Las Cholitas" women in their traditional skirts beating each other up...and I am left to wander the streets of La Paz, ducking out of the rain, into cafes for internet or a chocolate caliente. And as this may all sound lovely and adventurous, I am missing home terribly. I am finding it harder and harder to find the romance in a cold shower, a 12 hour bus ride, squatting over a hole, an unkempt shared kitchen, or the possibility of bed bugs in one more hostel. Yes, it may pass, but I have to say it publicly now.... I am ready to get off the bus!  We are closer to home than we have been yet... 3-4 more months to go. I think it would help me if I knew the date of our return, yet as of now, we don´t have one. So until then I am going with it...testing my limits, and still enjoying the hot chocolate.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Abrazos de Bolivia

So, we´re in Bolivia now. The trip´s story evolves, as does our methods as travelers. Waiting to upload photos with Blog posts doesn´t hold me back from posting anymore (no more computer or camera, as such).

Change and flexibility seem to power us now: Pilar found a mid-wife to tutor with in Cuzco District in the Sacred Valley, and we´ve decided to shorten the Southern half of our travels to bring her back to the opportunity she´s been searching for since we considered our personal goals during the trip. Returning early to Cuzco also brings Xylia back to Aldea Yanapai where we think she may just find the core of self-identity that projects her into a young woman of direction and strength. Esoteric stuff, I know, but I´ve always wondered what gives certain young people such resolve of purpose, and I´m considering that this might be her cross-road. For myself, I dunno, more building and agriculture and probably some independant travel.

In the process of change and letting go, we got robbed on the night bus from CUzco, Peru on our way to Arequipa in the Southern border with Chile. Many have wished us comfort and encouragement with "thank God you´re safe", but, really, being robbed is not mugged, and happens just the same as leaving your stuff on a table and walking away. "So it goes", as Vonnegutt would say.

My growing point here, as punctuated with the loss of the laptop, our main camera, and hard drive with all the contents (pictures, movies, words, software, home school material, etc, etc, etc), is that we´d sorta let go of many things while strengthening our relationships and our spirit. The result? Considering anything is possible, nothing is daunting, might be the growing sentiment.

To this we´ve added another route change as have shifted the compass point to Bolivia, where I now type in Copacobana, a border town at 12,300ft, at the worlds highest navigable lake. Patagonia, Southern Argentina and Chile await another journey to Sùdamerica. Tonight we leave for La Paz. Sunday we´ll watch a strange twist on the Luchadors of Mexico, with Cholitas, Bolivian campesinas in skirts. After that we just don´t know but we´re headed to Buenas Aires and Uruguay and the Iguanzu Falls and back to Cuzco sometime in March. We still have tickets back to the US and we´re excited to build a new life in Oregon. However, day to day happens as it comes. As we strengthen our love each other a lot, we love our friends and family, new and known, just as much.

To quote my new favorite travel author, Juan Villarino, from his book ´Vagabonding in the Axis of Evil´...

"... maybe you are thinking what are you going to do next week, or when you arrive in your country. But, when you stop thinking, only then the whole world arrives".

besos y abrazos a nuestros compañeros, amigos y family. dulce sueños a todos.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

leaving cuzco

So after a three months rental of our apartment in Cuzco, it was time to leave. We really enjoyed having our own place to cook, relax, have dinner parties, and movie nights with friends. We loved having extra room to extend hospitality to family, friends and fellow travellers. Leaving the comforts of Cuzco meant we would be leaving favorite haunts, flavors and friends for the unknown. After moving out of the apartment we spent a week in Ollantaytambo, a small village still in the sacred valley, where Michael would wrap up the project he started with Awamaki, a local NGO. This was a beautiful sleepy village with big views and landscape.

We reunited with our friend Robin to travel to Arequipa. Happy to be traveling with our friend we loaded onto the bus, for the first long bus ride in a long, long time. After the 8 hour night ride we landed in Arequipa at the base of the volcan Misti. Arriving at the hostel we realized we had been relieved of our camera, netbook, and external hard drive.

Well, such is travel life...especially when you get to comfortable and complacent. It´s easy to forget all your travel security habits. Now moving through the continent a bit lighter, I will try to keep up the blogging, although living in our own apartment definitely slowed that process for me.

Arequipa is a beautiful it was easy to help us move on from our loss. We immediately met new friends at the hostel and made plans to trek the Colca Canyon the next day. The archeture in this city is remarkably different and make me feel like i am in Morocco, or somewhere NOT in Peru. It´s known as the "white city" because it´s older buildings are made of a porous volcanic stone. We had landed in time for the evening candle lit tour of the Monestario de Santa Catalina....highly recommended!! Super magical and incredible!

We also did a day trip to la playa! It was so lovely to visit Mama Pacifica, we haden´t seen the ocean for months...or even longer to be IN it! And now the next time we see the ocean it will be the Atlantic! For here in Arequipa we decided to change our route from south to east. Hearing of all the fires and park closures in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego right now, we decided to test our flexibility with our trip and move east into Bolivia. We are "planing" to travel through Bolivia, and into northern Argentina, east again to Buenas Aires and maybe into Uruguay....who the hell knows at this point! Right now we go where the wind takes us!