More! (Potosí) Sunday, May 3 2009 

Now, let me tell you about Potosí.

Potosí is the highest city in the world. It finds its fortune in the hills and mountains all around it that are full of silver and gold. When the Spanish came here a couple hundred years ago, the natives generously and kindly showed them exactly where to find all the booty. And all of a sudden, Potosí became the center of the world! Richer than Paris, Madrid, and New York, Potosí was the place to be. All the posh world citizens sailed over to this treacherous landscape to make their homes. All around are the relics of colonial Latin America- wide open courtyards, cobble stone streets, even the most stylish clothing of the era remain the hippest digs nowadays. (All those women in strange bowler hats and shiny metallic skirts? The newest fashion in Paris when the Spanish came over here). It´s a great place. And it´s also the poorest city in Bolivia these days! The irony! (is that even irony? I don´t know why saying that felt appropriate).

The thing to do if you´re a tourist is to go down inside the cooperative mines of Potosí. These mines are chaotic. Because they are no longer private, anyone off the street can buy dynamite and start blowing up shit anywhere they want! Crazy! Children as young as 9 go down inside the mines to help their fathers. It´s a hellish place, aspestos covering the walls looks like silver, the heat is stifling, and the dust fills your lungs. Unfortunately, the ATM had eaten my card the night before and I spent an hour in the morning waiting for the bank to give it to me while they were taking their sweet time. I missed the chance to go down in to the mines! Blast! Oh well, maybe I´ll have a chance to do that someday. Apparently it´s really dangerous to go down there anyways because of the random explosions that have haphazardly constructed the mine. It could collapse at any second!

I can´t believe how lucky I am! It just so happens that I had a free ride down here with Jaime´s dad and his friends, who are all geologists. They advise the miners about what is safe. One of the friends of Jaime´s dad is named Christian. He is an awesome guy who laughs with his whole body and smiles all of the time. His family has been in Potosí ever since the arrival of the Spanish. He has a french last name, even though he is Bolivian. He casually invited us to a barbeque at his place one night at a bar in Potosí. I had no idea what to expect, but I was psyched about the free food.

It soon became apparent that this would be NO ORDINARY place! His house is the oldest colonial house in Bolivia, Still in perfect condition from the 16th century (!). It is outstandingly beautiful. I felt like I did not belong in such a beautiful place. Each room in this place has its own ghost- and every generation of his family is buried there, under the floor of the chapel. WHAT a magical place! Right next to the house is a stream with pure water fed from underneath a neighboring mountain.

Christian is the BEST guy. All the time he was practically force-feeding us food and drink- DELICIOUS food and drink, wine from the middle of the mountains and barbeque cooked over his amazing grill, his own invention (he´s a mad scientist!). I found out that he owns a mine, and that his workers get 50% of the profit while most others in the area only get 20%.  We ate at the same table that presidents of Boliva and liberators of South America have eaten. I felt so honored!

Ghosts? I didn´t see any! I woke up in the middle of the night for no reason, and I thought that a ghost might have been trying to get my attention. After ten minutes of trying to summon all the ghosts in to my room, I was too sleepy to care and I went back to bed.

By the way- I saw the most beautiful night sky I have ever seen, or probably will ever see, in my whole life. Potosí is the highest city in the world, and without lights I could see more stars than I could have ever imagined possible. The milky way stretched from horizon to horizon, and the whole sky looked cloudy with the innumerous clusters of stars. Sometimes I can´t believe that I´m going to school in the city next year. What are we thinking with all the light pollution! Come on!

Damn! Curse my lazy self! Sunday, May 3 2009 

Hey guys.

It has proved harder than I originally thought to faithfully upload my blog. There is so much I want to tell you! So, while you guys have been left in the dark, I´ve been doing some traveling around Bolivia. I passed through Lake Titicaca, which is beautiful, and made my way to La Paz. La Paz is a strange and beautiful city. It is full of traditionally dressed women, called ´cholitias´ who wear bowler hats, big sparkly skirts, and intricately woven sweaters. There are more Aymara people here than Quechua.

The fascinating thing about this is that nobody knows where the Aymara people come from. Their language is the oldest in South America, and there is no recorded history of their existence. The Quechua people, who are descended from the Incas, stretch from the southern regions of Colombia all the way to the north of Argentina. The Incas were a conquering society. But the Incas let the conquered cities keep their religion and way of life. Isn´t that great? Aymara people are a lot harsher, more scared, and secretive than the partying, friendly Quechuans. They are all beautiful people.

So, what do I remember over the past few weeks? What do I really need to tell you? I went camping on the side of Mt. Illimani,  who symbollically represents a father/creator in the local spirituality.  I ate a steak for the first time since I became vegetarian months and months ago! It was so delicious that I ate much more steak than any human should ever eat, and afterwards I declared that I was going to give up all meat and eggs and milk for the rest of my life. I felt like such a barbaric animal!

I´ve also learned a lot about the socio-political situation in Bolivia. Before I came here, my idealistic little self used to idolize Evo Morales for being the first indigenous president in Latin America. Little did I know how terrible he is! I am so naive. His radical left-wing politics is too radical even for the socialists in this country. He is a fighter, not a diplomat, and will stop at nothing to ensure that his agenda is secure. Just a few weeks before I arrived, he surrounded the congress with his army, not letting it dismiss until they passed a bill that was in his favor for the upcoming election. In short, Evo has shot himself in his own foot by following his socialist agenda. The landowners in The East (the lowland jungles) who had been making a ton of profit for the country on their large farms, aren´t allowed to keep their land any more. The land is divied up and supposedly given to those who have none, but the people who get the land do nothing with it; and the truth is, much of the land doesn´t end up in the hands of those who need it anyways.

A couple of days ago Evo staged an attempted assassination of himself to garner more support for his party. He also used this as an opportunity to kill a couple of right-wingers. As you can probably draw, the country is in a huge racial, social and political division between the people of the mountainous altiplano, who support Evo, and the people of the jungle, who support the opposition party.

ANYWAYS:

What really gets to me is that 90,000 of Bolivia´s 9 million are street children. That´s 10% !! I couldn´t believe that when I heard it. It´s the largest percent per population in South America. I was living in La Paz with a friend, Jaime,  who had met Johanna in New Zealand. He started an organization that helps the street children, mainly shoeshiners, write and sell a monthly newspaper. They are allowed to keep the profits of the newspaper if they attend the free weekly school that he offers. How great is that?! The kids have a chance to meet up, and play and learn.

Jaime also told me that a couple of years ago he did a survey of 200 street children who live in the more dangerous part of La Paz- and out of those 200, 100% of the girls had been raped, and 90% of the boys. I can´t believe how fast some of these kids have to grow up down here. You look in to some children´s faces, and their eyes look like they have lived 40 years when they have only lived 8.

By the way, I´m writing this from Ascensión de Guarayos, in the middle of the Jungle! I had forgotten that the jungle is HOT AS BALLS! damn! I´m sweaty as hell! I leave today for Comunidad animal rescue place. awesome. At the risk of losing your attention, I am going to continue my journel in another entry. bye!

Biking the death road- not dead Wednesday, Apr 22 2009 

they made us hold our bikes in wheelies for a long time

they made us hold our bikes in wheelies for a long time

I biked down the death road yesterday, 4.20, with a guide who was a bmxer and a dude from switzerland who MIGHT have been a bmxer. I was eating dust! But I was also going WAY FAST to try to keep up with this bmx guide of mine. So I lost control of my bike a couple of times, but never fell. After a little while of going way too fast, I realized that I was being dumb and so I biked reasonably for the rest of the way.

I have so much more to say, so many more pictures to give yo all of YOUZ, all the people I love. I miss you so much, ambiguous blog-reading mass!

caroline

Lazy as sunday mor-nin on Macchu Picchu Wednesday, Apr 22 2009 

Oh man! I have been ON the RUN and have not been able to record all of my cool adventures lately. So I´m paying for it now! I´ll start with the best journey of all, the great adventure to Macchu Picchu on Easter weekend.

So- I was staying at this great place in a tiny little village in the middle of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. It´s called Harin, and you can walk from one side of town to the other along the main road in about 3 minutes. There´s only one road besides the main road. [By the way, did I MENTION how ridiculous the drivers here are? They drive literally 90mph through these tiny towns, blaring their horns constantly with the hope of warning all of the dogs and kids and pigs and cows that, for some reason, love napping right smack-dab in the middle of the main strip. It´s really scary!]

Anways, I didn´t want  to leave this great place. There really is nothing like the smell of walking through the woods on the side of a mountain, nothing like the sweet and cold water that one can find in idyllic little streams in this utopian landscape. It is so beautiful there, so much better than Cusco that I wonder why anyone goes to Cusco at all. The people in the Andes have beautiful faces. They have these round, prominent cheekbones and big brown eyes shaped like sideways teardrops. There faces tell stories; especially the children, who look like they´ve lived for 35 years when they reach the age of 8.

The night before we left, we stayed up for hours listening to our artisan friends rehearse for a jazz/spoken-word poetry gig they had at this posh bar in Cusco. It was really great, a cello and an alto sax, and the booming voice of this Argentinian man with a beard, beatniks all, playing off of the emotion of the really poignant words of this dude. The guys told us about how to sneak in to Macchu Picchu. They had done it by night during August the year before, and had the whole place to themselves under the full moon. I couldn´t pass up this opportunity for adventure! It was the full moon on Thursday before Easter

So FINALLY, we gathered the guts to leave. We had to be on our way. I guess that´s how it works with traveling- once you fall in love with the place you´re at, and the people you´re with, you have to leave and make it happen all over again. We lazily woke up at 10 o´clock instead of the advised dawn.

–time passes in bus–

We get to a town called Ollantaytambo (spelling definitely incorrect). It is the sight of one of the biggest Inca victories against the Spanish conquistadors. There is a little cafe owned by a Brit where I had the BEST HOT CHOCOLATE OF MY ENTIRE LIFE. It was not hot chocolate- it was a revolution. I don´t know how they made it, but BY GOD, I will recreate it somehow. For Peru it was outrageously expensive, but all of the profits go directly to pay for OB/Gyn doctors for the ladies who are full of all sorts of diseases because their men sleep around.

After eating delicious food (we always find some sort of fake excuse to spend money on delicious food) we waited and waited for the bus to Santa Maria, the next stop on our journey. We took an open top cargo truck, or camión, instead. This was the BEST! One of the greatest things that I´ve ever done in my life. We sat in a hole among the thousands of pounds of farm goods that were being transported to markets all over the andean hillsides. The whole time we cuddled under giant blankets with a tiny indigenous  grandmother, her unmarried son, and her really intelligent eight-year-old grandaughter. The little girl tried to marry off her uncle to us the entire time.  We paid 3 dollars for the long, scary 8 hour journey through the andes. The whole time I sand Beatles songs at the top of my lungs, learning Quechua and talking about family with these loving Andean people. It was really great, besides the hours we had to stop off and unload incredible amounts of potatoes and lettuce and alfalfa. 

 

*BY THE WAY-In the andes, all the girls call each other mamí or mamícita, and the men are all papí or papícita. How good is that? It translates to babe and dude, roughly.*

 

We got off in Santa Maria, and stayed in a hostel because it was the middle of the night! The next morning we left for Aguas Calientes, the valley town below Macchu Picchu. We got there after driving through three raging waterfalls and a mudslide that left the road almost unnavigable. Somehow our driver got us there safely, go him!

From Santa Teresa, we walked along the train tracks for 3.5 hours to Aguas Calientes. The walk was beautiful. (I hesitate to go into details because this message is ALREADY so long!)

bullet points:¨:

-we get to Aguas Calientes, way overpriced, more tourists than South Americans

-we find a hostel

-we enjoy a couple pisco sours, DELICIOUS, happy hour, good deal

-we eat at the market, delicious juice, rice

-sleepy time, need to wake up at 4 AM!

We decided we couldn´t see Macchu Picchu by night because it was really, really rainy, which would make the climb of the mountain really miserable and dangerous in the dark. We left at 4 am the next morning. There is an old Incan staircase that is over 1000 steps to the top of the mountain. WHAT A WORKOUT. I haven´t worked my body harder than sitting and walking since almost two years ago. Damn! I´m out of shape! The altitude killed our lungs, and it was exhausting, but it was all worth it when we got to the top after a few hours.

There is a secret path, used only by farmers, that leads to Macchue Picchu. We had to climb over the roof of a small cabin, and swim through the WAY overgrown path of wet rainforest for about 20 minutes. By now, it was sunny out, and there were tourists streaming in the front door of Macchu Picchu. I can´t believe how easy it was to sneak in. At the end of the farmer´s path, you land yourself right in the lower middle part of the ruins. There are no guards there! It was so great, we got in for free instead of paying hundreds of dollars! What a good place to spend Easter morning.

too bad it takes so long to upload pics or else i would have more up here! dang

too bad it takes so long to upload pics or else i would have more up here! dang

Macchu Picchu was incredible, but not for the reasons I expected. It was aesthetically beautiful, but more impressive was the amazing organization of the society. Just looking at what is left of this sacred place tells me that we have so much to learn from ancient cultures. Everyone here had the same standard of living, working for the improvement of the community, striving for perfection in all parts of their lives. I learned a lot! Sacrifice was only of girls aged 13 to 17 (I guess I´m out of my prime sacrificial age by now) and only black animals.

Coming from traveling through run-down cities with no infrastructure, no sense of organization at all, I couldn´t believe how good the Incans had it. Minus the sacrifice! That would suck, huh. Apparently the Inca people abandoned Macchu Picchu because they didn´t want the Spanish to find it. It was too special to be conquered!

Photos? Tuesday, Apr 21 2009 

Does anyone know where I can upload all of my pictures online? Flickr has a file limit per month, which AIN´T NO GOOD! So if any of you internet whiz people no anything, it would be much appreciated.

ON THE WEB FOR A HOT MINUTE Friday, Apr 17 2009 

Hey guys. I apologize for the lack of cool pics. will upload at next opportunity. im in la paz, bolivia right now. tomorrow i will climb a mountain with a local dude and my friend johanna. sunday morning i am going to ride a bike down the ´death road´from la paz to coroico! i will ride slowly, thinking of my childhood so i don´t die. i seriously have to go! la paz is great! i love bolivia.

I KNOW WHATCHOO thinkin Sunday, Apr 12 2009 

So right now I am in Cusco, Peru. Sorry that i have not been faithfully updating this account of my trip. It´s so hard to keep in touch with the interwebs when i´m on the run fom place to place.

After a 23 hour bus ride lima through ideal andean mountain towns with utopian streams and forests and old incan walls, we arrived in cusco. We decided to go to the funniest, partying-est hostel in cusco, the loki hostel which is an impossibly steep climb from the center of town (or so it seemed, since there is no oxygen for my poor muscles).

The place is full of young monkeys who want to drink and mate with other young monkeys from around the world.  it´s really bizarre. It feels like going back to middle school. BUT, the view of cusco is incredible. and that makes up for the silly demographic.

We only spent a couple days in central cusco. It´s a beautiful city, but it´s full of tourists (FULL) who walk around decked out in the local garb pretending not to see one another. Its really funny to watch all of the tourists with shifty eyes pretending that they´re the only ones there, that somehow this place is authentic at all.

It feels bad to be in cusco at times, despite its colonial beauty,  because it is a city DEDICATED to tourism. It´s full of white kids. It´s kind of  like when you´re full after dinner on thanksgiving, but you really push yourself to eat a lot of  pie that you know will be delicious, but at the same time feels like poison to your poor suffering body! that´s the best way i can put it.

On the boat from Santa Rosa to Iquitos we heard from a Polish dude that there was an open house near cusco in the sacred valley of the incas that took in travelers from across the world. So instead of staying longer in this city, we went out in search of this mysterious house of artists and musicians. It turns out that it´s a really great place. It used to be a circus building, and then it was sold to the artists of the circus and now it is a cheap hostel, 1 dollar a night, in the middle of the andes mountains in a tiny andean village. the people here are so good, so real, and so different from the people in cusco who are so spoiled by the tourism that they don´t seem to be real peruvians. I wake up every morning to that sweet smell of pine and grass that is unique to being in the middle of the mountains. Everywhere huge piles of cow poop roast in the hot sun and children run around playing in the huge grass fields. it´s so great! I love the mountains!

It´s really too bad that i have to leave soon! I´m just realizing now that I have a lot less time in South America than I had originally thought. Before I left, three months seemed like a black hole of time to be away from my homeland, but now I find myself feeling rushed to get back to the northern coast of colombia, which is where I end my trip. I have to leave peru really soon in order to have enough time in bolivia, and it´s making me feel like i´m missing out on so much in peru! But i guess that´s the way it goes. I go to macchu picchu soon, and after that, I go to lake titicaca (ha,ha,ha) and la paz, bolivia. Too bad I´m american! Only americans have to pay $140 for a visa to bolivia. pinkos stealin mah precious penny! just kidding, I am really psyched about the political situation in bolivia. indigenous president, etc. cool. GOTTA GO

caroline

Don Pancho Sunday, Mar 29 2009 

Hey everyone, just here in Leticia, Colombia givin a shout out to mah MAIN man,

Don Pancho

…Don Pancho.

I love this man so much! I figured that I should do a little blog ´special post´for him because he is THE best. I chopped wood with him all day on Friday, and I am still feeling it this morning! I´m gonna be ripped, i tell you! He cut the tree down in less than 3 minutes! This man is great. I dont have any time left so ill talk more about him later.

lovin´u

bye

c

COMIN´ TO FILL YOU IN, PALM SUNDAY 2009

CUSCO, PERU

Now that I have more time,  I can update you about my life in the Amazon.

Life in the Amazon is slow and lazy. Everything that people need to survive sits around at such abundance that it literally rots on the ground. The colors of the people and the places match the jungle perfectly. I love the red clay roads the most because it feels gross between my toes.

The humidity is stifling, but the fat, heavy rain makes it all worthwhile! The sky can go from clear blue to looming grey in a matter of minutes. On my last day in the jungle the biggest rainstorm came- and I sprinted down through the neighboring forest down a dirt path, trying to find somewhere to swim. I ended up finding 20 kids jumping off of this tree in to a pond, and so I joined them to try to prove that girls aren´t wimps (I´ve noticed all the guys down here think girls are wimps!). It was really fun trying to make myself relive the explosive joy that only little kids have when they can play in the rain.

Last Saturday I took ayahuasca with the Shaman and his wife and many of his family and friends. I was afraid at first, but when I walked in to the ceremonial hut and saw that there were smiling faces of every kind of person, I was really at ease- even the wee babes partook in the ceremony!

Taking ayahuasca was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. The ceremony, more than anything else, shook me to my core. I felt so incredibly blessed to be able to take part in a sacred ancient ritual. The songs and the knowledge of healing has been passed down from father to first son for hundreds of generations.

Before I drank the ayahuasca, the shaman went around to each of the women and puffed the smoke from his tobacco pipe on to the crown of our heads. He then patted us down our torsos and across our shoulders with a bundle of delicious-smelling leaves.

The ayahuasca was very strong tasting, kind of bitter and a little bit spicy in a strange way, and sour. It made me feel a little overwhelmed at first;  but then I started to feel really alive, and I became aware of how greatful I was that I have blood pumping through my veins. This was the first time I could feel the ayahuasca working on my mind. My limbs felt electric and I could feel every vein pulse with blood.

The shaman and his wife sang a song together that is thousands of years old, and then the rest of the ayahusaca maestros  joined in, beating on the ground lightly with the same bundle of sweet-smelling leaves. The music was so beautiful, at once  full of lament and gratitude. The songs welcomed in to the ceremonial hut the various sacred spirits of the Amazon rainforest, the spirit of the warm and yielding earth, and the healing spirit of ayahuasca.

They sang for hours as each of the people in the room descended in meditation to their innermost struggles or ascended in to a spiritul, ecstatic state where some people say that they sit in God´s lap. An old man, one of the maestros, was speaking in tongues for a couple of hours when one of these spirits entered his body.  The Shaman team surrounded him and gave him special healing after, to let the spirit leave his body.

When I was tripping, although it did not have that many typical hallucinogenic effects on my mind, I experienced all different kinds of emotions in their pure extremes- joy, respect, disgust, frustration, sadness, love, fear and loneliness.  My mind ran a million miles per hour, and I felt peace that I was able to cry about all of the things that make me happy and sad, because I have struggled so much to feel emotion lately.

I felt like a child, free and content, and I felt like I didn´t even recognize my own hands, my face, my legs- my body was completely new to me.

I then had to go outside and make myself throw up, because everybody else was throwing up, and I felt that it would feel good and relieving to do so. I was surprised to feel like I was in some magical realm where my footsteps were so free and easy and light, and everything around me was so beautiful and alive. This made me feel so sad that a lot of the time I forget how beautiful and fragile our earth is.

I had countless thoughts and revelations during the four or so hours of the ceremony, that I could never write them all here for fear of creating a massive blog post. I also  don´t want to devalue this incredible spiritual experience by clinically exposing it on the internet.

I think I will take ayahuasca again. It is a powerful medicine, and stories of its powers make it sound like some mythical cure-all. A woman given two months to live after her breast cancer had spread to her lungs has been living healthfully with a shaman for a year now;  the cancer in her lungs is completely gone and the tumor in her breast has deteriorated from the size of a small apple to the size of a penny. Another man had a skin disease that hadn´t been healed for 13 years, and he was completely freed from his condition in two weeks. There are countless stories, too many to relate here, about ayahuasca´s ability to heal.

If there is one thing that I have learned by staying in the jungle, it is that mystery is everywhere in the world. My mind wrestles with this, and I constantly  struggle to wrap logic around our existence- but to no avail! The universe is infinite and beautiful,  and the nature of life and death are equally incomprehensible to us;  and that´s what pisses me off most and what makes me incredibly happy about being alive.

OH mah lowdy lord i have so much to say, but I don´t have the time to write it all down! Wednesday, Mar 25 2009 

So, since I last updated everybody a lot has happened.

In Iquitos, after using the internet cafe, Johanna and I went to an animal rescue place in the middle of an island in the Amazon River. It was started by an Austrain woman who really liked butterflies and wanted to protect them. There I got to see a lot of the butterflies that make the Amazon famous– but that’s not the cool part of this story. The funny thing is that we always had to watch our backs because SNEAKY monkeys were always trying to rob us.

The monkeys had been raised by street children to rob everybody they see. A monkey named Toni stole a 5 soles coin from me and put it in his mouth. he also took my dads old lens cover, but thankfully he didnt think that it was that cool. I also saw a jaguar named Pedro, kept in a cage way too little for him. They said that they would release him to the wild soon.

BUT, my favorite of all was lucas the Tapir.

Lucas the Tapir getting a belly rub

Lucas the Tapir getting a belly rub!

After a long day of seeing all sorts of cute animals, Johanna and I boarded the boat to Santa Rosa.

The boat was really cheap, and we were able to give our hammock to an old man who was going to sleep on the floor, which felt really good.

===

SO: We arrived in Santa Rosa, and the first step i took out of the boat i fell knee deep in to mud, to the great excitement of all the locals. It was really funny trying to get out of the mud, and that made me happy. We had a couple of really huge, cold beers to celebrate our arrival. Theres nothing better than a cold beer when your slowly traveling through the amazon, which has not one cold thing about it. We took a boat to Tabatinga, Brazil, and, as it was too dark to find the shamans house, we stayed in a hostel. The hostel owners taught us how to make traditional amazon drink with cachaza (fermented sugar cane) and lots of lemons.We played cards with them all night and dominated the competition.

The next day, after finding out that the owners of the hostel had paid for johannas share of the room (people here LOVE here blue eyes) we set out to find the shaman. After a hazardous 20 minute ride on a motorcycle, we arrived at a small gate. Turning around, I saw an old man carrying 20 fish and a lot of groceries smile and give me a thumbs up.

It turns out that he is the shaman, Seu Pancho. He speaks a little Spanish, but mostly Portuguese. Most of the time we understand each other by smiling (I cant help smiling when I see him!) and giving each other thumbs up, of which he is so fond. I found out that He is 99 years old, which I could NOT believe. He walks hours every day to the market to buy food for his family, and chops and carries wood all day long without effort! I congratulated his strength and health, and shook his hand after I found out that he has over 80 grandchildren, all of which he loves and spends a lot of time with. He is a hero all around town, and it seems like he gives a nod, a smile and a thumbs up to every other person he sees.

He met his wife when she was 13 and he was 19 (according to him) or 25 (according to her) and they got married within months. Theyve been married for 70 years now. The math of their stories is hazy, but its all the same.

All around their property are fallen fruits and little animals. There is a tiny baby pig who runs around adventuring with tiny baby kittens. There are a couple of really cocky rooters.ha. and a couple of hens/vigilantes with their little baby chicks. Its really a paradise, minus the MOSQUITO OVERLOAD! But thats alright with me, it builds character. I dont have any mosquito repellent but I dont really think it makes a difference.

I am staying in a grass hut on the edge of their property in a hammock. In this grass hut is a 41 year old, really really nice and quiet black guy from the northern coast of brazil. Hes been travelling endlessly for the past 25 years of his life, working a little in every town to pay for his food and his other expenses. He is SO TALENTED. It made me smile to jam with him as he was playing (masterfully, which is really hard to achieve!) the Berimbau . It was the best music I have heard in a LONG time, and it really fed my soul. He is a capoeira master, even though he cant walk on one leg because of a soccer accident when he was little. He also has perfect pitch and can mimic all the sounds of each rainforest animal at night.

Speaking of music, every night here I make myself fall asleep by picking out all the different sounds of the rainforest! There are so many different things to be heard: differences between males and females, mammals, insects, etc.

i only have 2 minutes left on my computer

BYE

Here in Iquitos Friday, Mar 20 2009 

Hey everyone I just got off of the three day river boat from Miraguas to Iquitos, Peru. I spent most of my time sleeping in a hammock, which is really comfortable, and looking out the window at the jungle. Looking at the jungle can get old after a while, because it´s only on the horizon and looks the same pretty much all the time.

There are lots of tiny villages of grass huts that cluster together every now and then on the river side. These are the most interesting to look at, because sometimes I can see little kids paddling a hollowed out tree down the river or running around the green, green grass together.

On the boat we were packed in like sardines- I was surrounded on both sides by mothers who nonchalantly whipped out their boobies and nursed their babies a couple of inches away from my face. So many boobs in one place!

There are these cute little kids who I play with, and I felt I should give them my hotwheels car that I had brought with me to give as a gift to the ‘chosen children,’ whoever they might be.  So I gave the car to a shy and humble and nice little boy who reminded me of myself. But (I should have remembered this!) His brutish older brother tore it from his hands and said he would sell it for 5 soles ($1.50) when he got home. This kid was the oldest child and spent most of his time kicking his 5 year old sister and wagging the hotwheels car in their faces to make them cry of despair. After a thourough dose of the evil eye and my stern demand to ´compartir,´he gave in.

I became famous among the children on the boat for teaching how to make paper airplanes. I was really surprised that they didn´t know about paper airplanes! Unfortunately all of the paper airplanes loop-d-looped through the boat, landing on the faces of sleeping adults, to the delight of the little kids.

Today my watch was stolen, probably by that little boy who would not share the hotwheels car with his siblings. It was really really cheap, and I didn´t ask himto give it back because with the money he sells that for he will probably be able to indulge himself with an hour of playing playstation at a playstation café, and I thought that that was a fair trade-off, since I got to play playstation for free when I was little.

It seems like Johanna and I are the only ones who haven´t seen any pink dolphins! what a shame- I´m sure we´ll see some on our way back. I did, however, see a 6 foot long black snake sprinting across the road before, and also have had two beetles that look like tanks jump on to my body. They are huge! About 4 and a half inches long.

I am so surprised every night by how dark it gets here. There is no light pollution, so I can see all of the stars!

ALSO! To my disdain everybody here seems to think that the Amazon River is a great place to put all of your trash. The trash cans on board are an arbitrary thing to satisfy the law that there can be no dumping in to the river- but the workers on board just dump all of the contents in to the river anyways. I really hate this.

I was thinking about buying a baby duck for a pet, because they are so cute and only would cost me 30 us cents! And kittens and puppies around here are practically free, they are just running around everywhere for the taking. Against my better judgement, I will resist the temptation.

Today I leave for the border  (Triple-frontera),which will take me 2 days on a boat. I wont be able to communicate for much time until then! After this, I´m flying back to Lima and heading to Ica and Arequipa and then  Cuzco for Easter weekend.

By the way- apparently the rains in Peru have been really really strong. 30 people have died or something. Here you will find pictures of the broken bridge that was holding us up for a couple of days-

http://www.elcomercio.com.pe/noticia/258629/desborde-rio-gera-deja-aislado-al-distrito-moyobamba

also- sorry, no pictures yet! Last time I tried but I have been having a lot of trouble on these computers. I cant figure out how to save the pictures to my memory card in the spanish-language program. I promise I will put pictures up at my next convenience.

C

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