After our 7 day retreat in Peru, Hana and I decided to go to Bolivia because, well, why not? Honestly it was all Hana’s decision and she made her angry face when I acted hesitant about extending my trip past the 7 day mark. I made my hesitant face and then she made her angry face and I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Yeah, I’ll go. Sounds like fun!”
And it was fun. It was incredible. It was awesome. For the first time in almost 2 months, we felt free. Free of walking the Camino, free of the prison retreat that starved us and locked us inside its grounds. We were, for the first time, truly free.
But I lost my cell phone at the bus terminal in Cusco. My guess, it was stolen because I forgot to button my freaking pocket. The one time I didn’t button my pocket was at a stupid bus terminal….of all places! Why Melanie? Why…
That’s why I haven’t posted anything. I couldn’t. But oh man I wish I did. What a trip. Have you ever seen the sunset in a desert? It’s the most awe-inspiring image I ever seen in my life. It’s not an image though, it’s not a scene, or a view…..It’s like Pachamama, or Jeong. It’s like an emotion became a reality. Words, just like a photograph, will never capture it. It’s like looking up at a dome – sunset surrounds you on all sides. The colors….a perfect mix of contrasts swaying and changing and spiraling. It’s dizzying like on drugs. I kept looking all over from one side to the next to take it all in but my eyes weren’t big enough.
Me – “I can’t believe this happens every day and nobody knows about it.”
I decided whenever I’m feeling down, all I have to do is think about that sunset and how it’s there everyday but we just can’t see it. It happens above my own house everyday but I just can’t see it.
Hana bought us a room for 2 nights at the most luxurious hotel I’ve ever stayed at, Hotel De Sal Luna Salada. Everything in the place is made entirely out of salt taken from the desert. The floor is even covered with a carpet of salt. It crunched under my feet as I walked.
It’s an isolated hotel in the middle of a pure salt desert and seeing that it’s in a 3rd world country, all the games in the game room were broken. Their one ping-pong ball, the darts, all the pool sticks….etc. But we played with them anyway and laughed our asses off. Hana drank 5 large gin and tonics and got the asian flush. That’s the night we met Alejandro. A pilot for the Peruvian airline. The three of us had the best time together. Like we’ve been friends in a previous life, carried over into today. It’s still so odd for me to meet someone for the first time and feel like I’ve known them my whole life – that’s how it was with Alejandro, a young man from Lima.
I loved Bolivia. It’s not an easy place to get into for wayward backpackers like us. Before we left for Bolivia, I researched what was needed to enter the country. Evidence that we’ll be leaving, a hotel that we’ll be staying at, and a passport photo. It’s even more difficult for Americans and journalists because we have to pay to get in.
I thought it wise to get our Bolivian visa’s in Cusco at the embassy so that way our bus wouldn’t take off without us while we fumble with the paperwork. This has been known to happen when the process takes too long.
We show up at the embassy with nothing but smiles and good intensions. Then we were directed to go to the nearest internet cafe to print out our paperwork because smiles weren’t enough proof that we’re good, law abiding people.
I was so glad we got that done and out of the way. We were both proud of ourselves for being prepared. We actually had to buy our plane tickets home in order to get into Bolivia and you know that can be time consuming.
Bolivia was awesome but the moment Hana left to catch her plane back home, my luck went out the door with her.
My plane was the next day. Early morning. So early that I wouldn’t allow myself to fall asleep for fear of missing my flight. I had no cell phone to set my alarm, no clocks in hotel rooms in Bolivia and I didn’t trust the front desk to call to wake me up. So I had to stay up. I had no choice.
I hop in a taxi at 4:30am the next day and drove up to the top of the mountain where the La Paz airport resides. The views are stunning. La Paz is dusty, dirty and old, but good lord it’s stunning from the top of that mountain.
I find out that my flight has been cancelled.
Delays are one thing, but cancelled completely? What do I do? I don’t even have a phone!
By gods good graces, the La Paz airport has a computer room that also let’s you make long distance calls. I had to find the Bolivian phone number for American Airlines on the computer and call them. The next flight was two days later.
So I drove back down the mountain, found a hotel, and slept until noon. Thankfully, Bolivia is cheap as hell.
La Paz is the capital of Bolivia. As I lay bored in my hotel room, I can hear a celebration happening a few blocks away. The same celebration being televised on TV. It funny how many TV stations in Bolivia cover everything that goes on in La Paz whereas America is just too big for that. It’s not tightly knit. I’ll never get on TV but in Bolivia, everyone’s a star.
I just wanted to go home so badly at that point. I was worried about my business, worried about not having any money left in my account, worried about my parents….I was freaking out.
I’m laying in my own bed now. I got home at 3am this morning. I don’t know what the hell I ate or what, but I contracted a nasty stomach bug. My stomach started gurgling during my first flight (Santa Cruz) and as soon as we landed I went straight to the bathroom and was shocked at what came out of me. Then it happened again on my second flight of which I couldn’t hold it in and had to shit 30,000 ft above ground in the tiny shaky airplane toilet. And then it happened again minutes before my third flight. My flight was boarding at 7:05PM and that’s the time it hit. I ran to the bathroom and I couldn’t stop going this time. It didn’t have that “okay I’m done now” feeling and my asshole kept wanting to dry-heave (sorry for the imagery).
I was vaping during all of this, while sitting on the toilet and murmuring, “oh god….shit. Oh no oh no please stop.”
I had no cell phone to tell me the time. I was afraid of missing my flight due to being stuck in the bathroom. I thought about the two girls who weren’t allowed to board their flight because the doors closed moments before they arrived. They, for some unknown reason, boarded the plane and decided to leave it a few minutes later. When they returned, the attendants wouldn’t let them back in. Once the doors were closed they stay closed.
Me thinking – “Why the hell did they leave the plane once they were on it? Did they not see the time?”
One of the girls made a scene, swearing up a storm as Americans do and then broke down in tears saying, “I don’t know what to do, what do we do? Our luggage was on that plane.”
They were in Miami going to Boston. For me, it didn’t seem like that big of a deal. But sitting on that toilet right when my plane was boarding for takeoff, I felt sorry for judging her.
I still have the stomach bug. Every time I eat, it all comes back out. At least this happened after my trip and not during.
Man, I’m home. I miss Hana.
Hana – “We’re perfect to travel with. I complain and you don’t. You’re a very positive person.”
Me – “I bottle everything up inside good and tight.”
Hana – “It’s destiny that we met. We can grow old together, not have children and just change each others diapers.”
Me – “I never wanted kids so I can totally do that.”
Hana – “Are you sure?”
Me – “I’m sure, pinky promise.”
She does her weird asian pinky promise thing and walks me through the process.
It’s just like having a best friend in junior high. Girls our age don’t talk like that anymore. I forgot how much I like hearing sentiments like that. It makes me feel loved.
Hana makes me feel loved and cared for and the only thing she wants in return is for me to travel the world with her.
I don’t know….call me crazy but if my life from now on consists of world travel with a person who sincerely cares about me, I’ll be pretty damn happy with that life. I’m okay with that.