Mira. Me llamo Joey Peso, y tres dias atras, compré una porcion de dynamita. Lo era fantastico. El precio estaba diez bolivianos, o 1.50 gringo mas o menos para el dynamita, amonium nitrate, y una fusa (tal vez un minuto larga) juntos. Estuvé en las minas cooperativas en Potosí, Bolivia. Minas que producen mucho plata todavia hoy dia. Despues mi grupo y yo salemos las minas, mi guida, se llama Jaime, me preguntó para la dynamita. Jaime lo preparó el substancia explosivo, y pusó la dynamita adentro una bolsita de ammonium nitrate, la misma cosa el una bomber usó en el Oklahoma City bombing. Usualmente amonium nitrate es usó para fertilizado, con plantas, jardins, y todas las cosas verde. En esto pelicula corta, Ustedes pueden ver yo, con un bomba de dynamita en mi mano, despues anadé fuego.
I felt like writing a bit in Spanish because of the intensive English I have been speaking as of late with Peace Corp friends. What I wanted to share in this entry was the recent opportunity I had to purchase dynamite. For 10bs or $1.50 I purchased a full stick from the miners market at the foot of Cerro Rico (rich Mountain) in Potosí, Bolivia. Since I have lost my mind and dont fully appreciate the fruits of my right hand, I opted for a video shoot with said portion of dynamite, fuse lit, in my right hand. The video clip* is composed with the grace of the ballet, and Jaime actually soiled himself in its undertaking. He actually asked me to buy him fresh underwear. For some reason, I was bereft of fear, and was just really giddy at having so much explosive maiming power at my disposal. It felt like wielding the trident of Zues. Im pretty sure Zues had a trident. But I will probably never hold dynamite again, rest assured Mom and Wes. Probably a lie. Saludos amigos! y Vamos Warriors y Seahawks!!!!
*I have now tried in vain to upload the video of lit dynamite in my anxious fingers numerous times. I honestly suspect youtube is denying the video due to its potential connection with terrorist activity. If I can get it up, (no pun intended) you will see the clip soon. Until then Paz playaz.
Insane Terrain, Part I
Has anyone ever heard of Bolivian salt flats? Has Salares de Uyuni ever been issued from yours
or someone elses tongue or momentarily graced a converastion? If you are like myself and my other 5 travel mates to the stars who recently visited the Flats, then you probably have not. However I think the hidden and undiscovered air that surrounds and evelopes the Salares de Uyuni adds to its completely other worldy nature. I am talking the same ranks as E.T., black holes, Neil Armstrong, Reses Peanut Buttercups. It was like stepping into a hallucinogenic dream while still in waking life, yet in the place of purple Chinese speaking dinosaurs that I usually see there were the most eclectic and alien landscapes I have ever beheld. The sheer expanse of the frontier, the random, drastic, and
constant change of terrain, and succumbing to cabin fever while being packed inside an SUV for an unGodly amount of time combined to yeild an unforgettable experience. An experience whose fresh recency still brings about pangs of claustrophobia.
Now for a few details....get ready to digest some numbers. Six travelers comprised the tourist factor: Stephan, Inook, and Damion were the friendly French. Daniella and Sandra represented Swizterland, and yours truly was holding it down for America del Norte. Our ages all spanned the twenties. Two Bolivian extroverts comprised the crucial knowledge and expertise that proved instramental to the
relative success of the trip: Lucas the driver and manic coca leaf chewer, and Marta the cocinera or cook who puts ex jailbird Martha Stewart to shame. So we have 8 more or less strangers willfully electing to spend 72 hours together in the closest of contact. In those 72 hours, you never had a solitary minute to yourself, save the time spent boxed in on four sides communing with a porcelain God. Eight back to back meals were eaten together; two nights of group sleep. Each of the tours three days featured a 10 hour average inside the close confines of a Toyota 4runner rubbing shoulders literally and figurartively with new traveler friends. Paradox or not, everyone managed to remain cheerful, freindly, even jubilant in the face of shower fasts, 430am wakeups and extremely close contact. What do we have to thank? The insane terrain of the Salares de Uyuni. I want to dive into a two entry installment of the amazing and awesome sights, beginning with the first day.
The massive plains of dried salt were the first attraction of the three day tour. After driving 30 or so minutes from the town of Uyuni, an expanse of white slowly became our world. Na+ soon stretched to the limit of sight, blanketing everything between points on the horizon. Santa could not have dreamed of an xmas any whiter, in September or any month. No roads, no
buildings, nothing of a vertical nature AT ALL. Nothing greeted you that wasnt emitting a color wavelength of white brilliance, save beautiful mountains and active volcanoes half hazardly sprinkled about the horizon. Visions and emotions of surreality began to bloom, as we were driving over what would very soon be used to season food around the country. Acres and acres and acres of salt. Virtually infinant amounts. I had many locals verify that the resources plentitude could never expire. It is unfortunate that the salt isnt a more valuable resource, as if it was the black gold, sheikhs of those big and violent deserts of the middle east would be groveling before the feet of Bolivia...in the inport export business that is. At a meager and stranded feeling salt processing factory we learned that the resource was so inexpensive that it was a matter of dollars to the ton.
After playing i
n piles of white, and taste testing the ground, the novelty reached its apex and began to decline. The clan of 8 wild cards piled back inside the 4runner and a violently bumpy existance was endured for the next 90 minutes. We next arrived at Isla del Pescado, and I hope I have that name right as Fish Island really doesnt make any sense as a name for the location. In the middle of the dried salt flat there rose a baby hill aspiring to be so much more. Its stunted growth was more than compensated by its interesting rock formations and veritable forest of cacti taking up residence on its sides. REALITY CHECK. I am in the middle of some prehistoric bed of salt infinity, standing atop a lone hill which contrasts against the glaring ocean of white with cactus green. Reality checks were a daily exercise over those three days as some of the environments I found myself in were simply unbelievable. I love any situation where you have to stop yourself and mentally confirm what you are seeing is real, and you are doing what you are actually doing. As a goal I strive to make my realities unreal, to make them hard to believe.
At Isla de Pescado we hiked simple trails to beautiful sights, ran amuck, and delved into our first group lunch. The meal was marked obviously by setting and company, but more by the outrageous politeness and generosity us strangers showed one another. After eating upon a table fashioned out of salt, we took time to take pictures of a more creative nature. The fact that everything was completely white made it so that there was no color difference discerning between background and foreground. This provided some very interesting photo opps playing with size disparity. Peep the pic. The water babies lotion
belongs to me and my sensitive skin, gets laughed at every time, and is the gift that keeps on giving from one Megan Iguchi who left it in my apartment in South Korea lifetimes ago. The area really did provide for some amazing illusions depending on your creativity. Regretfully I was not on my creative game as there were other pics like this one that is cooler than ice cream.
"Vamos amigos!" says Lucas with coca leaves issueing out the side of his mouth. Time yet again to hit the road, even though the vulnerable tires of the 4runner touched road, (or paved cement) for a combined 20 minutes the entire journey. A complete lack of pavement, an abundance of dirt, rocks, and salt. We arrived late in the day at a pueblito perdido or little lost village which kept very close to the middle of f*cking nowhere trend . It was a village of nearly 200 inhabs, all living in closely concentrated basic one level structures. Nestled tightly in a small valley between two lazy rolling hills, there was running water for all yet electricty only for those select few who could afford the gas along with their generator. The hostal we stayed at was easily the most rustic and basic of lodgings I
have ever experienced. It was almost completely constructed of salt. The walls were made of salt bricks, cemented together with salt. The floor was white, crunchy, and granulated. The bed frames were oh so salty. I felt peppers jealousy welling up into a spicy rage. The only thing that seemed not to be sodium comprised was the mattresses, blankets and pillows thanks to all that is holy. It is here that I must end this novel as I have a 10 hour night bus leaving to Potosi, literally the highest city in the world at 4500 meters and change. Day 2 description coming soon. Until then, stay hydrated, moisterized, and think of me when you look at that little glass bottle of white on your dinner table. Paz.
Adventures of Joe Parker
Professor Montgomery recently
walked out of my South American life and onto a bus headed towards Buenos Aires and the end of his time in Argentina. Being moved by the warmth of Argentinian custom, we kissed cheeks and it was weird and great. One crucial difference between us is that he is actually an established American; He is stacking chips in the real estate game, as well as the old 401k; He is making moves in the American grind (i.e. he has a job), and just being an all around good capitolist by buying gas and driving an SUV. I on the other hand have none of those things, we will call them roots. Im freer than any bird youve ever seen, than any bird that Lynrd Skynrd ever wrote about. The point of all this is to illustrate that the Professor was only able to get away from those American roots for two weeks. Of those two weeks, we were able to form like voltron, blaze trails and so much more for about 10 days together. My oh my what a 10 days they were though, as in that span of time some major ass was kicked, beautifully intricate cultural customs were learned and appreciated, and as an overall trend, we partied like it was 1999.
People, this is what happens when you breach the border of states 50 and visit me in the south of the world:
1. You do things like crossing the Bolivian border via Argentina soley for a party.
2. You attend all day rodeo beer fest meat feeding frenzies.
3. You almost go skydiving for 40 dollars. I have no picture to illustrate how crazy, cool, potentially life threatening this true fact would have been.
4. Busses are ridden in time lengths measured not in minutes or hours, but in days.
5. You see a place that can legitimately be called the most beautiful place on Mother Earth, or Pachamama en Espanol.
Parker, I want to genuinely thank you for getting the motivation and wanderlust to come take part in vastly different way of life with me. Also for dipping into the funds a little bit, (now is the time to do things of this nature); I am now nearly broke as a bad joke, and will require a small section of your cartpet to sleep on and maybe a water dispenser when I come home in November. The mists of time shall never fade the memories, God bless the digital age. I love ya bro, heres to the adventures of Joe Parker. While writing what was to be this entry in my actual travel journal, I was sitting and looking out over el punto de las tres fronteras, or the point of the three frontiers. An actual spot where while standing on Argentinian soil, you can see Brazil and Paraguay at
the same time. At the moment of creating this entry on blogspot.com, I am just south of the Bolivian border, in a dust swept city called La Quaica. I plan to cross the border into Bolivia in about 15 minutes.
ps. They serve crustaburgers in Bolivia. Simply awesome.