Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Baila con llamas

For some time I have fancied the cow. While roaming about India with my sister ages ago, we discovered the secret language of "moo" and I communed with many holy beasts. Something about their painted horns and that je ne sais quoi in their faces just draws me to them. That and they're darned tasty sliced, diced, and grilled. My apologies my love, but I have found another.

I encountered my first llama in the altiplano of Bolivia. Instantly in my head the song began, "could this be love? could this be love that I'm looking for?" Running around trying to hug a llama is a difficult feat anywhere, 15000 feet makes it a delirious challenge. While a sexy beast, she is sadly rather elusive as well. Those bobby tails just kept slipping from my grasp, their tricycle streamered ears twitching in confounding mockery of my desires, "I just want to love you!" Well, I never hugged one, but I got the second best thing; last night, I ate one, and it was good.

It has been a blessing for me getting out of BsAs. As far as cities go, it really does have a lot going for it, but I am not made for the hustle and bustle of such a place. Cordoba seemed a more manageable place, for the day I was there. There is also a huge difference, for me, in the people outside of BsAs. More relaxed, more open, I suppose the same could be said for most of the world's cities.

It truly did surprise me, the degree of difference between the people of BsAs and those of northern Argentina. One would almost assume either BsAs is another country, or the north isn't Argentina. I suppose coming from the States, where there is a fairly similar distribution of appearance ( some people are going to have issue with that statement ) I am accustomed to driving 40 hours and looking around and seeing "Americans." But it amazes me that the people I considered "Argentines" ( upper class PorteƱos ) don't exist outside of BsAs. I always noted riding the subway from San Telmo or other southern Barrios to the north the difference in the people, and you rarely saw the northern barrio folks in the south. Apparently, they don't go out of the city either ( another "superior" comment I suppose, but well, whatever, it's easier to be absolute about things and backpedal later ). Point is, I liked the difference, it exposed me to another side of Argentina, flushed out the country's character for me a touch. And they have spicy food in the north, thank god! Sadly, I haven't had a decent steak in weeks.

The one change I am reeling from is being back on the gringo trail full force. I am currently sitting in a line of American, Israeli, Australian, and possibly Scandinavian interneters. For the past four days in the Salar, the only Bolivians I've encountered were tour drivers. It was beautiful, but definitely not the way I am used to travelling. I suppose if I had more time, I could have wandered mindlessly lost for a month on my own, but places to be, things to do.

Other than that, I crossed the bridge into Bolivia with a flood of shuffling workers, each grandmother easily carrying 3 times my baggage at twice my speed. "Vamos gringo!!" was a common mantra for these folks, hmm, I wonder who they were talking to.

Been having some trouble sticking to a budget and avoiding altitude sickness. It's just so darned rewarding to splurge here, and whiskey tastes so good at 15000 ft in a thermal pool. The next day wandering around with your brain swabbed in cotton isn't as pleasant, but how do you make the sacrifice, please tell me? Bloody Lonely Planet advises "abstain from alcohol" well, I never was a fan of Bush's ABC's.

Curious to go to La Paz, see how it differs from BsAs. Bolivia is interesting, the little I have seen of it. The ability to maintain a conversation with people has really enhanced my experience here so far. It is, and is not, what I expected. It's poor I suppose, but not as desperate as I had thought. Perhaps it will be worse in the big city, but as of yet, everyone has been awfully friendly.

Sometimes I think India really jaded me to the world, or at least made me very very suspicious of everyone and everything. Our guide asked if we wanted to stay in one of the salt hotels in the Salar, and I immediately wondered where the scam was. Turns out it was a lovely place, and I nearly licked my way through a wall, mmm, llama and salt. Today I drove our group across the Salar, felt very useful and it was a pleasure to drive after five months of abstinence. In the meantime, taught our guide some Bob Marley songs, thus propagating the truth that he really is everywhere.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

fuerza dave, fuerza.

saludos desde thames.

el g

8:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

driving in america and "seeing" americans, haha yes its a funny statement and doesnt make much sense

have you driven to new mexico? or texas? or arizona lately?

how about detroit or miami?

you should drive a while longer, or pay more attention to what you see

2:46 AM  

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