Can’t Give Up

by Tania

Yesterday, I retired to my dingy little room at the cheap hostel in Copacabana early after a frustrating day dealing with the police. They were quite useless in my attempt to file a police report.

Unfortunately, my bag wasn’t turned in to the police office either and I didn’t receive a message on Facebook or my e-mail from the person who picked it up. My hopes of that happening are near zero now. They probably wanted to keep it and it’s contents, sell them or give them away to someone as a gift. Who knows. All I know is that if I found something like that, I would have contacted the owner on-line as soon as WIFI was available and that hasn’t happened for me yet. I doubt it will now.

At the police office, I was frustrated to find out that Isla del Sol is not in the Copacabana police department’s jurisdiction, so if anything happens over there you are SOL. There is no police department or tourism office over there to help. Great. My scenario wasn’t likely a huge deal to them, but what about anything else that happens? I asked the man running the office, with the aid of a translator, “So, what happens if someone gets brutally beaten, attacked or murdered over there? Nothing, because it’s not in Copacabana’s jurisdiction?” He just shrugged.

Next, I asked if it would be possible to write up a police report for travel insurance purposes. No, not that simple. The person who writes up those reports is off until Tuesday. Really? So again I repeated my question, “So what happens when crimes are committed on the weekend? People have to wait until Tuesday to file a report?” It’s really odd to me, but then again, this is a third world country and things seem a little half ass. Maybe there are funding limits? I’m not sure. Basically, it seems as if this police department runs only part time. Why they had this guy manning the office, I’m not sure. He didn’t seem to have a purpose.

To add to my frustrating day, my stomach ache returned. It was something that plagued me for approximately a week before going to the jungle. Luckily, Duane suggested I see some American doctor acquaintences of his who were in Cusco for a week doing some work with the local Peruvian doctors. They were teaching midwives and doctors methods of rececitating babies and saving women after complicated child birth situations. There is a mortality problem in Peru in these areas. Lucky for me, I got a free doctor’s appointment and some meds to deal with my stomach problem. The doctor thought it was ecoli based on my symptoms. The meds worked almost instantly and I was well again for the jungle. Unfortunately my stomach issue has crept back again.

Last night, I would have left on the late bus out of Copacabana, but didn’t want to end up in a strange city by myself in the dark, plus end up sick on the bus without a toilet. So, I bought a bus ticket for the first bus out of Copacabana this morning at 8:00 a.m.

My hostel was quite run down. The doors to the bedroom were old, wooden ones that were split vertically. They swung into the room because they weren’t hung right and there was only an eye and hook to lock it. To make myself feel better about sleeping, I also pushed a rickety old red metal chair against the door. The room was only big enough for a double bed and night table. The window by the door was in the shape of a trapezoid, the same shape as the windows in the Incan ruins. The air smelled of dank smoke, but I didn’t care. It was cheap at 20 Bolivianos. I climbed onto the matress and sunk into the middle on top of it’s broken springs. It was still light outside when I went to bed, but I was done with the day and my tummy was aching.

It was dark when I awoke. People were still talking outside in the courtyard. I laid there thinking about why the heck I’m out here and thought I would feel better if I listened to some music. It has a way of bringing me back home. I listened for a long time before I shut my iPod off, one of the only electronic items I had left besides my camera. The song Stop and Stare by One Republic was my theme  song of the day. Tears came as I looked around the dark dingy room and listened to the chorus,

Stop and stare
I think I’m moving but I go no where
Yeah, I know that everyone gets scared
But I’ve become what I can’t be, oh

Stop and stare
You start to wonder why you’re here not there
And you’d give anything to get what’s fair
But fair ain’t what you really need
Oh, can you see what I see

The words really resonated with how I was feeling at that moment. Part of me was afraid to go to sleep and part of me was afraid I wouldn’t wake up in time to catch my bus out of this town that so many people like, but which has given me such bad taste. With no alarm clock to wake myself up, my sleep was very shallow.

I awoke way too early when the first light entered the little trapezoid window. Quickly, I gathered my things and left the hostel. A man began shouting, “La Paz a La Paz” when he saw me walking down the dirt street. I showed him my ticket. He said, “Una Hora”. Ok, so I sat down on the sidewalk against the plaster wall. A dog laid down beside me on the sidewalk.

The bus ride was approximately three and a half hours and interesting in that the bus had to be barged across part of the lake. It made me nervous since the bus was tall on the small wooden barge that only fit the bus plus one more vehicle. The window wouldn’t slide either and I began fearing the thing would tip over into the lake. What would I do if it did that? I saw that the main door was powered by hydraulics. Hmmm. Not good. Before I knew the bus was going to drive onto a barge, most of the passengers got off. I thought it must have been their stop, but realized that wasn’t the case when everyone got back on again on the other side. Wow! Yeah, I guess I should have too and I wondered how often accidents occur.

Arriving in La Paz was a bit of a ordeal. The bus driver just dropped me off on the side of the road in the middle of the city. I had no clue where to go, so I stopped in at the first internet cafe I could find. Luckily Duane had sent me a message at that moment so I knew he was on-line. He told me to go to the bus station which was near the train station.

Unfortunately the train station no longer operates. There was pink tape all around the outside of the building and I couldn’t see the bus station. Before I had left the internet cafe, I was smart enough to prepare some questions in case I got lost. One was, “ Me puede ayudar por favor? Dónde está la estación de tren?” which I then converted to, ” Dónde está la estación de autobus?” when I realized there was no train station anymore. I received many different directions, but finally was directed to a mini-bus which took me up the hill above La Paz to another mini-bus which took me here to Viacha, a small town where I will stay for a couple of weeks to do some volunteer work.

A couple that Duane knows picked me up in Viacha and took me out for dinner.  I am staying at a tourist house for free in exchange for the volunteer work I will do with an organization they run called CHOICE. It focuses on improving the conditions of the hundreds of villages surrounding Viacha. I will start tomorrow. Doing what? I am not sure.

Upon reaching the tourist house my jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe what I saw. Those people reading this who also followed my Camino journals last fall will understand why my jaw dropped when I saw that the address of this place is 555. The address to the Healing House where I stayed in Cusco was also 555.  Repeating 5’s, specifically three 5’s in a row, was a very prominent occurence on the Camino and I journaled about it then. Synchronicity maybe? Today, when I arrived here and saw the address, I knew I was in the right place and there is a reason why I am here.

So, no I’m not going to give up on my blogging. I will find other computers to journal on, like this one in the tourist house. Unfortunately new images won’t be part of my blog until I can replace my tablet, but it will happen again. Maybe not right away, but it will.



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