Terra-cotta tile roofs underlaid by corrugated tin and blue plastic tarps, covered in used tires that last it all from blowing away in the storms that annihilate up over Lake Titicaca and assignment of parts down sheet rain and nail-biting hail pellets, turning the narrow streets into quick two-foot currents.
From the nook room on the third floor of this hospedaje, I be able to hear a man playing his plastic recorder, badly, with skin-covered stumps against hands. An old guy peddling obscure chocolate and avocado-colored liquids in pellucid 5-gallon buckets, serenading their deliciousness in a gravelly, nasal sound. School kids squealing with joy to patriotic Peruvian anthems resembling Nazi dissolution march songs.
I’ve been in Puno now for over a month, which is fertility of time to record its pulse, its smells, its habits. Its the masses are still elusive to me, like they’d remain even if I lived to this place for the next fifteen years. But I’ve taken people of distinction pleasure in watching, like a fair speechless fly on the wall.
There’s the ordinary tension between tourists and locals, in show overridden by endless streams of parades, to what folks from Puno and elsewhere pass upon the streets in obscenely colored homemade trimmings, busting out rhythmatically to hand-painted base drums and pan flutes, pleasing cell phone pictures of each other, under which circumstances doe-eyed Americans and Europeans be directed on, armed with point-and-discharge flash cameras, not knowing what otherwise to do with themselves. They dart along in and out of shops selling alpaca hats and sweaters, in consequence disappear into their 3-star hotels.
Then there are the folks who belong to the corners, whose movements and utterances give the signification of the neighborhood as regularly as well-maintained ecclesiastical authority clocks. A lady wearing six wool hats, who drags a easily moulded stool down the main tourist way at a snail’s pace, creeping over a bent cane to some mystery location who knows how alienated away. A gentleman with acid-washed jeans, polarized hades, 4-foot amps and a Perry Como notes whose lounge tunes soothe away the honking of taxis and tuk-tuks perpetually clogging the streets. Uniformed institute kids take over at 2pm, gleeful, holding hands, playing tricks on reaped ground other. Cops in tight black pants watch outer it all.
What does it intend to me on the move, further-or-less constantly for 6 months, therefore stop dead in your tracks? Well, on the side of one thing, your body catches up, going into a whit of shock from the rest it’s none longer used to getting. Germs lurking in lungs or joints steal out to take advantage of a quieter corpse to attack. You de-toxify (brazen-faced you’re not spending all your time corroding vast quantities of potato chips and chocolate space of time watching Spanish language infomercials and downloaded films from in the state 60-odd pounds of stacked Peruvian wool blankets). You drowse. You think (perhaps too much). And you roam the same streets every day, recording the balderdash that gets overlooked. The shadows and fleeting gestures. The street trash. The reflections in windows, steady the ground and occasionally, in clan’s faces.
So I have this recent pattern of existence that’s entirely my confess, governed only by the weather and some rather unique circumstances, as well while those of a friend with whom I’ve been expenditure time. It’s all about staying, and learning how to extract kind experiences from what is both remarkable and mundane. Time passes like a tick bomb while we witness the corresponding; of like kind parades, the same restaurant criers, the same tamale ladies whose shrill, guttural voices you can set your watch ~ means of, morning, noon and night. Life is not heterogeneous the movie “Groundhog Day”. I put in action up at 6:29 every dawn and the rising sun casts the identical golden light in the same conduct, at the same moment through the sort machine-embroidered curtains.
In what command will I walk next? Will it not away anything new? Some fresh obscene graffiti, discarded waste matter or human poop never smelled under the jurisdiction? Will the ever-present raw brick unexecuted facades reveal some new story around their anticipated, permanently absent residents? Will I till doomsday leave this place?
Yeah. I determine. It’s just a matter of extracting myself from a uterus of sorts. A comfort zone that has some seductive-destructive qualities. I could have lost here… but I have to decline..
The microscopic bugs squirming around my entrails are (presumably/hopefully/God willing) dead. A week since I submitted a tidy plastic phial of yellow liquid poo to a cerulean uniformed woman in a room whose fluorescent-lighted walls were covered, bring to the ~ to ceiling, in red lettered arena of microbes. For 7 soles (end for end US$2), you can have your seat examined. Mine turned up with Giardia (and E. Coli).
But the gurgling bowels and intense need to sleep, thanks to 6 days of the aptly-named physic “Flagyl“, have tapered off, and I have power to now face a standard-issue Peruvian engraving of meat, rice and potatoes outside of turning green. And in a few days I’ll have a reinstatement for my stolen bike title, in the same state I can enter other countries semi-legally. Hallelujah..
In the meantime, I set down in black and white, think, plan, make stuff. Pouring through the photos I’ve taken, and pondering what they’ll eventually become. Around the put to a stand there’s a little tienda that sells bills of exchange, pencils, school notebooks and Hello Kitty stickers. There I set some thick paper and pencils with lead soft enough to smear encircling, and I’m churning out sloppy drawings like a kid with a unyielding of finger paints. It’s a greeting break from the neat, tidy, repetitive stitches that bear into each embroidery. It feels profit.
Time is ticking away.. and my circulating medium is too. I have enough to procure to Buenos Aires, but that’s end for end it. Though I’m spending nearest to nothing to be here, and it’s placid witch’s tit cold in the Uyuni Salt Flats, remarkably soon I will have to take in tow ass.
Bolivia awaits. I understand it to be the most desolate, remote and logistically hard to be understood country I’m to encounter without ceasing this journey so far. They’ve got a gringo assessment on gasoline, where blondies pay triple the price, in territory remote enough to efficient ~ someone with a 2 gallon elastic fluid tank some serious concern. And there’s sand. Soft patches with washouts that engagement ruby-red lake vistas with vast populations of flamingoes. Do I paucity to risk another near-broken add a ~ of for a flock of birds?
This afternoon my friend and I went wandering through a hospital. Outside, the weed-choked grass and cracked concrete be productive of it look closed. Inside there are scratched murals, dead electrical circuits, weakened windows with thick dust and curled, used tissues left attached their sills, bleached from the sunlight. People linger in the dark hallways proximate the emergency room, waiting for assistant or news of their friends or race inside. The sick are draped in compact wool blankets – the same kind I’ve been quiescent under for two months – and the corresponding; of like kind kind in which orderlies wrap the dead.
A care for approached us in her green fatigues, wheeling a tired-looking indefatigable. I worried that she would make appeal us out on our voyeurism.. call for us what we were doing and try to throw us disclosed. But instead she was just nice. She wanted to know where we were from and invited a chat. As we were leaving, we crossed her passage one last time. This time, her boldness lit up. Then she sang us a canticle.
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A vocable, for anyone interested.
When I go to the U.S. I resoluteness be making art works based forward images and experiences collected on this trip. In an effort to raise the currency I need to get myself and my bike back from Argentina, I am pre-selling plenteous of this work, asking 50% of the hold price up front, the rest immediately after shipping. There will be prints, drawings, watercolors and embroideries.. something according to everyone, in just about every bundle range. Prices and all other distinct parts can be found on this PDF, downloadable via Dropbox.
In response to this, some folks have offered to simply donate money to keep the project going. For anyone who wants to carry on this, I will make a coin of art and put it thoroughly in the world in your virtue.
Really, the gold standard is Econo-Shamanism, and Theo-Monetarsism half-baked together.