Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Leaving La Paz


´The still point of the turning world´- T.S. Elliot

We leave the violent lights of the Cerros (hills) of La Paz behind. Following the grafitied underpasses and vertical roads, that make movement in the city possible. In this night, swollen by the odd-shaped moon, I welcome the transcience of the travelling lifestyle. The state between permanence and nomadism. Where we stay in one place long enough to become acquainted with the daily rhythms, yet moving on before the strike of boredom ensues.

The shapes of country are blurred by the frosted windows of the bus. There is a sulky presence of distant lights, but not enough to reveal the true aesthetic of the landscape. We laugh at the narrow seats and the bad American movie, tainted further by high pitched dubbing. A lesson for choosing the cheapest transport option. Yet, this is not enough to dampen our spirits. We have the vibrant pages of books to captivate us and good company. We have eachother. Besides, this is the way to experience the real Bolivia. The Bolivia that is caught in a continum of contradictions. The coach is full of locals, their coloured blankets lighting up the drab interior of the bus. The intense smells of Pollo (chicken), Huevo (egg) and other delicacies, as street vendors siddle up the aisles, balancing their wares. We´ve already stopped 6 times and have not left La Paz yet. I think she is reluctant to let us go.

My head is filled with ideas and questions, inspired by the ramblings i´ve read in books. Literature has this amazing ability to enrich the experiences of places you visit. The mundane goings on take on heightened meanings. The delicate masks of colour and devloping world glamour, become transparent, so that in the eyes of beggars, street vendors, taxi drivers and merchants, an alternate vision is reflected. I remember Galeano´s dictums (the author of open veins of Latin America). The way the West has crushed all of the leftist attempts at government reform in this continent. I wonder whether Evo Morales will suffer the same fete? His name was like a brand, plastered on the paved surfaces of walls, houses and streetlamps. The repetition, made those three letters, E V O, stick in your memory like a splinter. His dark, blinking eyes, keeping watch over the city from the remains of election propaganda. There is a determinism in his face and i hope he has a prosperous reign, that defies the patterns of American intervention and neo-colonialism written in history.

La Paz has a beauty that reflects its name (The Peace). It is embedded in the colour of the streets. The earthern faces of mudbrick, laced with warm, smokey scents. The shiny basis of paved roads, where bodies congregate next to their incomes. Stacks of textiles stitched with the delicacy of heartache - the longing for lost land. The round breasts of fruit, splayed out on coloured mats, where the heads of Indigenous women poke-out, hats resting on their ebony braids. The patience of the taxi line. Faces silent, yet souls dancing. All life is legitimate here. The stained hands of the shoeshine boy, painting an equally important picture, as the waiter that serves you a coca mate (tea) or the señorita that exchanges your dollars. There is an unwritten system that maintains the biodiversity of human relations.

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