Gloria Gaynor was a wonderful woman. A big star in the 1970s, she kept the hairspray business alive single-handedly. Her tune “I will survive” pulled me to the dance floor after a few bevies but maybe now globalisation has gone too far. To be woken up at 7am in the hotel by I will survive in Spanish played at volume 10 was not cricket.
That was the beginning of my Bolivian days. An hour after going to bed in Brazil, Christian and I were woken by our housemates and told “the bus leaves in one hour”. Nothing changes. we reached the Bolivia Brazilian border without serious problems but it proved a fairly isolated spot, unless u are a drug runner in which case, its the entry door. A taxi driver took us over the border but first we had to negotiate the actual crossing. its was staffed by two illiterate guys, a table, a book, two soldiers and a pristinely dressed lady who asked for our yellow fever vaccinations. We gave her a note that could be anything and she accepted with a smile and returned to her stool next to the road. Then we took a walk to the house where the two nice, simple guys took my name as daniale wesley, smiled alot with little teeth and waved us off. They were so happy they didn’t give us an entry stamp or visa. Not many people especially white guys go through this border crossing. We found out why.
The taxi driver drove us at full speed into the town of san mattias on the Bolivian side. His taxi was a mere shell. He had no seat. There were only back seats. He knelt, leaning out the window as his windscreen was as clear as Britain’s ethnical foreign policy and attempted to avoid the potholes while playing with the stereo that somehow worked. Bolivian music again. But we arrived in town, broken red bedrock, found a hotel and went to sleep. We got up in time for the bus and jumped on as it’s pulled off. A second later and we would have been hit by the electricity pylon that the bus pulled down as we moved away. The driver looked out the window, threw his hands up (who would put a pylon next to a bus eh?) and drove off. Finding a seat was a problem. The entire Vasquez, Lopez and Marquez clans were going to a party. As we left town, the driver gave us a quick look, smiled, pulled the curtain, hit the horn and put his foot down. I worked out fairly soon that he was a getaway driver on the run. The bus seemed to defy the unbelievable road which varied between rough and Princess Anne in the morning, scolding the potholes, rolling over the bumps, dominating like only Hulk Hogan did in the 1980s. While we drove a mother held her infant out of the window so he could have a piss, enrico Bolivian serenaded us on volume 11 and Christian and I went crocodile spotting. 3-1 to Austria, sorry lads but I did see the biggest one.
And after three days travel including two overnight bus journeys, we arrived in La Paz, the capital city of Bolivia. Compared to the country towns, this was cosmopolitan. The Bolivians are mainly from Indian descent, dark skinned, small and very poor but with a good smile. The city people are more European and the girls look like any other young women. La Paz is at 3900m so the air is very thin and as it’s a hilly city, surrounded by huge volcanoes and ridges, it’s easy to get tired here. But that has been the least of our problems. I arrived to meet Luke and Serena. Luke, of course, one of my best friends and my drinking buddy in Japan. It was great to see him and this has been the first time that I have really talked to Serena (I met her once but was very drunk). All has been cool.
But I was then hit by food poisoning, don’t have the beef, and managed 7 vomiting sessions and 35 wretches in total. Nice. Christian is hit by fever and hasn’t made it out of bed since we arrived apart from to get paralytic one night. I am back in business now and enjoyed a good session with Luke last night, swapping stories and catching up. 60p for a beer in the best bar is a price Dan likes. Together with food and accomo price of two pounds per day, it’s all sound. Today Luke left for the Amazon with Serena and Patricia, Serena’s best friend, who I met once in Japan but….
Bolivia is a great country. cheap, friendly, with amazing scenery, mountain gorges, volcanic landscapes, the highest navigable lake in the world which I am going to next week, the largest saltlakes in the world and curious people, especially the women who wear extended skirts in multi colours and top hats. It’s a little weird at first but interesting. There are too many hippies in this town, nerds who are 22, getting their first freedom from America and say things like “the poverty is so real it hurts my heart”. Naturally they get told to fuck off. (sure me and Scott once ran into a preppie boy like that once in Ing). They are also a vast number of Israelis who have told us that “America is the only country that sees the truth” and make jokes about Palestine. While twats like this go on holiday, people survive and die in Palestine. that, to me, is the truth and once they started talking politics, Luke, brilliantly stood up and walked out telling them that “he wasn’t gonna listen to this shit.” those guys have avoided eye contact since. Shame.
So tmrw I head to Peru to meet rie from Japan and go to Machu Pichu, the Inca ruins. then we return to Bolivia and meet up with Luke, Serena, Patricia and hopefully Christian and we’re all going to stay at lake Titicaca for a few days before Luke and Serena pursue Peru, Mexico and home and a few of us move south to the saltlakes and Argentina. I hope everyone is cool and thanks if u are still reading.
I leave u with this comment, by George Clooney about the William Shatner`s version of a Beatles classic and why he would chose it for a desert island disc. It was so awful that simply playing it would make you “hollow out your own leg and make a canoe out of it” to escape.