Isla del Sol, Lake Titicaca / Bolivia · 2014   blue altitude

  

   Out of all the lives I’ve lived, my life in Bolivia was one of my favorites, like most, but in its own way, like all. Forget about nature. Nature is queen in the moment, your skull all emerald on the inside when you look at these word-defying landscapes. But I hardly ever wish myself back into them. It’s these grimy little alleyways in La Paz I think back to, and that street up the hill which is lined with markets on all sides where we bought the pots and pans, and the avo rolls, and these drunk nights and drunker friends, the front yard of the language school I worked at, the lessons, the other lessons, those millions of bricks, the two-dollar-three-course meals in Sopocachi, the movie nights on that silly little DVD player we bought from a different decade, the commute on those sub-micro buses that were built for six but carried thirty. Without any room to sit diagonally, my legs would end up deep inside the backrest of the seat in front of me, where they usually took a nap. One time, they went all the way into REM and when I hopped off the bus, they gave in like the legs of a balloon giraffe. Wasn’t much of a hop at all that one and had me flat on the sidewalk to everyone’s surprise and amusement. We spent a green Christmas at the outskirts of the jungle in Coroico, and on our way to Argentina we passed by that exoplanet Uyuni. Another visa overstayed, third in a row, but this time there was no way of doctoring my passport.

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a glimpse

glimpse: NOT LOST | We thought we were absurdly lost that day. And on paper we were. But we were paperless, left to our own devices. No map, no guidebook, no being lost so long as you keep walking. Reaching for the blue heart of Lake Titicaca, the right ridge towards the north of Isla del Sol was far from us. But we were far from lost and we had the vista to back it up.

lichens on a rock in Bolivia's Altiplano

 

glimpse: YOUR IMAGINATION | What do you see when you don’t know what you see, when you see whatever you want to see? Something small could be something big, something far could be something near, something could be something else. Your imagination, your call.

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"[...] like a surrealist dreamscape it seemingly existed detached from all the rest of space and time, somewhere somewhen.”

 

Altiplano, Uyuni / Bolivia · 2014   dreamscape escape

La Paz was love on second sight, maybe on third. But love it was and is, true and unbroken.
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La Paz / Bolivia · 2014   vermilion ocean in the sky

View from El Alto onto La Paz, Bolivia
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Strikingly blue and polar-cold. The swim felt like a cleansing.
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Isla del Sol, Lago Titicaca / Bolivia · 2014   endless pier

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Isla del Sol, Lago Titicaca / Bolivia · 2014   sun-tanned island



 

 

Isla del Sol, Lago Titicaca / Bolivia · 2014   sunshine in the rain

 
Valle De Las Animas, La Paz / Bolivia · 2014   La Paz snuggling El Alto

 

 

 

 

 

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places / stories

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Lago Titicaca  / In You I Was Me

Lake Titicaca, Bolivia, seen from Isla del Sol

 
Lago Titicaca / Bolivia · 2014   true blue

 

 

 

 

blue lake, true lake

in you I was me

could see

could see to be

could see to be is free

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Isla del Sol, Lago Titicaca / Bolivia · 2014   Could I be that tree?



 

 
Isla del Sol, Lago Titicaca / Bolivia · 2014   waterscapes



 

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La Paz  / Cannonball to the Head

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La Paz / Bolivia · 2014   brick womb

 

 

 

 

You have to be out of your mind if you’re trying to describe La Paz, and you can read this sentence in two ways, and both of them are exactly what I mean. Any attempt to sketch La Paz with a clean mind is like putting a comb to a stormy sea. Everybody will tell you about the witch market, the love potions, the llama fetuses, the homeless sacrifices, the self-governed cocaine-prison, but those words are just shells. La Paz is denser than words. It cannot be approximated with external language. I don’t know. Maybe it’s a bit like taking a cannonball to the head, all synapses firing at once for the first time in that last instance as the brain combusts and it hurts but it’s also everything.

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La Paz / Bolivia · 2014   drunk



 

 
La Paz / Bolivia · 2014   drunker



 

Met Baris the first night in La Paz and chalked up a few more nights over the months that followed, as he worked and slept his way through a hostel gig or two while the two of us worked at a language school, she teaching French, me English, at the UN. You could tell that he had taken a bite out of life’s flesh where it was ripest and now he couldn’t stop biting because ¿por qué no? That lucky bastardo. With all those moments in him he looked so juicy that I was tempted to take a bite out of him, but I’d already bitten off more moments and pieces of myself than I could chew. And when I liked someone, their feats were mine too. So.

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La Paz / Bolivia · 2014   Dr. Salva



 

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One time, Dan, our boss at the language school, asked if we wanted to work as interpreters for a FIFA & Coca Cola delegation at the presidential palace. Casual. We had no background or experience in interpretation, or anything linguistics-related for that matter, no credentials, no qualification other than speaking the language. Such a job would have been reserved for the crème de la crème elsewhere, but two days later we found ourselves in the presidential palace a couple of feet away from Evo Morales. In anticipation of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, they were touring with that tacky golden trophy which only former champions and heads of state are allowed to touch. It was bizarre, but President Evo looked overjoyed when he got his hands on it and everyone else clapped and had a jolly good time for the cameras.

 
La Paz / Bolivia · 2014   trophy trolls



 

My camera that day was my shabby phone. I didn’t take many pictures in general back then, when I had life down and the experience sufficed me without photographic proof or documentary ambition. But I’m glad that I took some more photos over the years that followed to create MilesAstray, my visual diary if nothing else. Dan had brought in a whole armada of interpreters and there wasn’t much for me to do but to babysit these FIFA men. It was a well-paid gig in theory, but in practice we never got paid. When we left Bolivia, Dan said he still hadn’t gotten paid by the Peruvian event company that had hired him. It checked out, at least judging by the sobs of his wife/secretary who cried into the phone in embarrassment whenever we called.

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La Paz / Bolivia · 2014   magnetic gold



 

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La Paz / Bolivia · 2014   stove and frigde



 

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La Paz / Bolivia · 2014   busy views



 

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La Paz / Bolivia · 2014   quiet street



 

Marie also found a job as a waitress at a French restaurant, and I was and wasn't jealous because that sounded like a writer's job, but not one that I wanted. Instead, I gave birth to a stillborn translation agency and took on my first remote freelance job. Financially speaking, it rendered my job at the language school a waste of time, but while it paid ten times as much, it was less than a tenth of the joy – scratch that; it was no joy at all, negative joy really, negative ten. So I kept my local job for pleasure. A job to go was more than convenient to cross borders and oceans with, but that’s all it was. The odd, local side jobs and volunteering gigs, those were me. They paid anything from next to nothing to nothing to weed, but the reward were millions of seconds of belonging.

What else? The city’s bumps and humps, the bends and twists, and that one blue apartment we visited but didn’t take, and the apartment that became home on first sight. It looked like a palace, but it lacked some of the amenities of a palace, like piping in the kitchen. The pipe under the sink emptied into a bucket we had to pour into the toilet whenever it was full, which was always. You wouldn’t believe how much water goes down the drain for doing dishes. And you wouldn’t believe how much less water you need when you have to empty a disgusting wastewater bucket. The stove and fridge leaned against opposite walls across the living room, and the tiny bathroom across the tiny hallway was almost inside the apartment. It was perfect.

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Valle De Las Animas, La Paz / Bolivia · 2014   abysses



 

So many miles and years away, but a part of me has never moved out of the womb that is La Paz.

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Uyuni / Traversing the Zig-Zag Road between Pain and Pleasure

why well-being is underrated – putting happiness and suffering in perspective

 

With all the pain I had ever felt in the past for now, all the pleasure was ahead.

 

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elsewhere

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in South America