Friday, November 19, 2010


And then... paradise! There was a point there, squashed up in the back of a people-mover in sweltering heat, carsick and dehydrated, where I was starting to forget the point of all this discomfort I was subjecting myself to. But as soon as I arrived here in Samaipata, a village in southeast Bolivia in the foothills of the Cordillera Oriental, I forgave South America everything. Dusty tiled streets with lounging dogs, women selling chilis and beaded necklaces, picturesesque hills in the background, a shady square and peace. My room is tiny and simple and delightful, a view over the terracotta rooftops to the hills, a tiny wooden desk that begs to be written at. Down some wooden steps to a pretty, shaded courtyard where a hammock swings, windchimes tinkle, some Andean music plays softly. And all this costs the princely sum of ten bucks a night, breakfast included. Oh, if I had six months and no obligations! I´d set up here, write my novel, learn Spanish... I could weep at the thought.

I loved Buenos Aires, and Iguazu was unforgettable, but now I´m here I know this is the experience I came for. My body´s aches and pains are miraculously eased, my heart breathes, and all of a sudden I can really play the guitar again. I can sit up on the landing outside my little sanctuary and the notes just flow off my fingers like they were born to fly. The only blemish on this Shangri-La? The squadrons of mozzies that rise out of nowhere in singing, whining clouds at six each night to devour the juicy and unprotected.

But it´s sunny and fairly cool at this height, and there are treks to be done: three day wades into the trackless jungle with a machete-wielding guide, or the Che Guevara trail - the famous revolutionary was killed not far from here. There are also pre-Incan archeological sites to explore. But not yet. First I have some industrial-strength chilling out to do...

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