Today was fairly uneventful. I didn’t do any volunteering today other than I went along for the ride to load up on supplies, such as cement mix, wire mesh, wood and nails, for the new school CHOICE is building in one of the communities. Four of us crammed inside the cab of a big work truck. Because there wasn’t enough room to fit comfortably, I sat in the middle, directly in front of another guy.
It was a bit of a scary drive. Bolivian drivers are crazy…nearly all of them, not just the guy driving the truck. There doesn’t seem to be any rules on the road. People sometimes drive side by side in the same lane, not that there really are lanes. I cringed and braced my hands against the ceiling as the driver passed another large truck while traffic barrelled towards us. He cut in and out of traffic like a mad man escaping the law. Maybe there’s a reason why his truck is named Blade with the red, furry carpet decorating the dash board.
Along the way I kept noticing stuffed bodies hanging from poles. This is also something I noticed upon my arrival in La Paz while looking out the window of the mini-bus. What the heck? I had to strain my eyes to make sure they weren’t real people hanging there. No, luckily they weren’t. The bodies are hanging effigies and apparently they are hung like that to send a strong message to anyone thinking about breaking the law. Many communities, due to an inefficient or corrupt police force, take matters into their own hands when it comes to punishing criminals. The inefficiency, I have definitely experienced first hand, as I recall my conversation with the police department in Copacabana and how police reports are not written up on weekends and that the Isla del Sol doesn’t seem to fall under anyone’s jurisdiction.
On the drive back we stopped in Viacha to watch the police and work crews uncover an old community school that had collapsed. Mud bricks covered the dirt road and an excavator worked carefully to remove them. Luckily there were no children inside the building at the time. All I heard was that it was an accident, but I still don’t know how the accident happened or if it was because of a weak structural fault in an old building. I thought about that as Maxima, the children and I sat eating in a local restaurant. I kept hearing banging noises and then the ceiling would shake. The waitresses kept looking up. My eyes followed and focused on the lighting fixtures and loose wiring on the ceiling. Yikes!
Back at the tourist house I was feeling a little blah, home sick really. Maxima was working on the computer and without my tablet or computer I wasn’t able to read or update my blog. So, I dug my flute out of my pack and sat outside in the front yard and played. Butchy, the giant and playful Saint Bernard who guards the property, started to howl while I played. I’m not sure if that meant he liked my music and was singing along or he hated it and was crying. He just stat there with this snout to the sky and crooned to the gods.
For some reason it was a tough day for me. I’m not sure why because my luck is really turning around. Willy and Maxima are so kind and generous to give me a place to stay and to feed me. Plus, my good friend Duane, has been extremely generous and has forwarded some funds to keep me going, even after I insisted he didn’t need to. He is such a generous person, always thinking about others and willing to give the shirt off his back. Literally! He gave me one of his dress shirts to take with me to the jungle to protect against mosquitos. It’s amazing the kindness and the generosity I have witnessed on my journey here in South America so far. It far outweighs the negative.
Right now, I think I’m just feeling a bit insecure about traveling. In Canada, I always felt safe about walking and taking the bus. I could go anywhere and not worry about being robbed. Here, it is different. The paranoia krept up on me back in Puno after I got robbed on the night bus. My fear of losing things had me seeing tunnel vision and a result I was misplacing things constantly. My paranoia worked more against me than for me. Then on the Isla del Sol, I left my bag because I couldn’t keep track of everything I was carrying. I’m afraid of losing anything else, so staying here at the tourist house for a while seems safe until my confidence is restored.
This aternoon after I tired of playing my flute, I came inside, laid down on my bed and listened to tunes on my iPod. I scrolled through my playlist for the songs that reminded me of home or of the Camino…the two places that have always felt safe and comfortable. A few tears came, but I knew they would pass. Sometimes you just need to acknowledge how you feel. Tomorrow is a new day with new opportunities and new experiences. I just need to keep my chin up and keep going.