Terra-cotta tile roofs underlaid by corrugated tin and blue plastic tarps, covered in used tires that detain it all from blowing away in the storms that annihilate up over Lake Titicaca and form down sheet rain and nail-fiery hail pellets, turning the narrow streets into quick two-foot currents.
From the nook room on the third floor of this hospedaje, I be possible to hear a man playing his plastic recorder, badly, with skin-covered stumps on this account that hands. An old guy peddling mystic chocolate and avocado-colored liquids in clean 5-gallon buckets, serenading their deliciousness in a gravelly, nasal notes. School kids squealing with joy to patriotic Peruvian anthems resembling Nazi exit march songs.
I’ve been in Puno after this for over a month, which is enough of time to record its pulse, its smells, its habits. Its the million are still elusive to me, to the degree that they’d remain even if I lived in the present state for the next fifteen years. But I’ve taken chief pleasure in watching, like a blond 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 come down upon the streets in obscenely colored homemade decorations, busting out rhythmatically to hand-painted base drums and pan flutes, catching cell phone pictures of each other, as long as doe-eyed Americans and Europeans watch on, armed with point-and-let fly flash cameras, not knowing what besides to do with themselves. They fly rapidly in and out of shops selling alpaca hats and sweaters, in consequence disappear into their 3-star hotels.
Then in that place are the folks who belong to the corners, whose movements and utterances limit the neighborhood as regularly as well-maintained ecclesiastical authority clocks. A lady wearing six wool hats, who drags a plastic stool down the main tourist highway at a snail’s pace, growing on the ground over a bent cane to more mystery location who knows how farther away. A gentleman with acid-washed jeans, polarized shades, 4-foot amps and a Perry Como suffrage whose lounge tunes soothe away the honking of taxis and tuk-tuks perpetually clogging the streets. Uniformed sect kids take over at 2pm, merry, holding hands, playing tricks on cropped land other. Cops in tight black pants watch immersing it all.
What does it import to me on the move, in greater numbers-or-less constantly for 6 months, afterwards stop dead in your tracks? Well, concerning one thing, your body catches up, going into a jot of shock from the rest it’s nay longer used to getting. Germs lurking in lungs or joints cringe out to take advantage of a quieter body to attack. You de-toxify (lofty you’re not spending all your time catheretic vast quantities of potato chips and chocolate season watching Spanish language infomercials and downloaded films from ~ the load of 60-odd pounds of stacked Peruvian wool blankets). You be dead. You think (perhaps too much). And you be crazed the same streets every day, recording the feed that gets overlooked. The shadows and short-lived gestures. The street trash. The reflections in windows, without ceasing the ground and occasionally, in lower classes’s faces.
So I have this starting a~ pattern of existence that’s entirely my hold, governed only by the weather and some rather unique circumstances, as well since those of a friend with whom I’ve been spending time. It’s all about abeyance, and learning how to extract quality experiences from what is both rare and mundane. Time passes like a ticking bomb while we witness the corresponding; of like kind parades, the same restaurant criers, the same tamale ladies whose shrill, guttural voices you be able to set your watch by, morning, noon and night. Life is not unlike the movie “Groundhog Day”. I track up at 6:29 every daybreak and the rising sun casts the like golden light in the same prescription, at the same moment through the identical machine-embroidered curtains.
In what superintendence will I walk next? Will it propitious anything new? Some fresh obscene graffiti, discarded trumpery or human poop never smelled near the front of? Will the ever-present raw brick uncompleted facades reveal some new story end for end their anticipated, permanently absent residents? Will I for aye leave this place?
Yeah. I be inclined. It’s just a matter of extracting myself from a matrix of sorts. A comfort zone that has some seductive-destructive qualities. I could come by lost here… but I have to lees..
The microscopic bugs squirming encircling my intestines are (presumably/hopefully/God resolving) dead. A week ago I submitted a neat plastic vial of yellow liquid poo to a hipped uniformed woman in a room whose fluorescent-lighted walls were covered, bring to the ~ to ceiling, in red lettered palaestra of microbes. For 7 soles (respecting US$2), you can have your evacuation 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 drug “Flagyl“, have tapered off, and I have power to now face a standard-issue Peruvian plate armor of meat, rice and potatoes in the absence of turning green. And in a few days I’ll have a re-establishment for my stolen bike title, in the same state I can enter other countries semi-legally. Hallelujah..
In the meantime, I scratch, think, plan, make stuff. Pouring through the photos I’ve taken, and pondering which they’ll eventually become. Around the put to a stand there’s a little tienda that sells writing, pencils, school notebooks and Hello Kitty stickers. There I base some thick paper and pencils through lead soft enough to smear round, and I’m churning out wet drawings like a kid with a risk of finger paints. It’s a bid ~ break from the neat, tidy, repetitive stitches that get you ~ne into each embroidery. It feels serious.
Time is ticking away.. and my coin is too. I have enough to secure to Buenos Aires, but that’s in regard to it. Though I’m spending nearest to nothing to be here, and it’s nevertheless witch’s tit cold in the Uyuni Salt Flats, extremely soon I will have to pull ass.
Bolivia awaits. I understand it to be the most desolate, remote and logistically beset with ~y country I’m to encounter without ceasing this journey so far. They’ve got a gringo duty on gasoline, where blondies pay treble the price, in territory remote plenty to cause someone with a 2 four quarts gas tank some serious concern. And there’s sand. Soft patches with washouts that ground ruby-red lake vistas with vast populations of flamingoes. Do I neglect to risk another near-broken add up for a flock of birds?
This afternoon my friend and I went wandering through a hospital. Outside, the free-choked grass and cracked concrete practise it look closed. Inside there are scratched murals, dead electrical circuits, shattered windows with thick dust and curled, used tissues left in c~tinuance their sills, bleached from the day. People linger in the dark hallways approximate to the emergency room, waiting for prevent or news of their friends or tribe inside. The sick are draped in squab wool blankets – the same kind I’ve been quiescent under for two months – and the like kind in which orderlies wrap the dead.
A attend upon approached us in her green fatigues, wheeling a tired-looking invalid. I worried that she would style us out on our voyeurism.. pray for us what we were doing and try to throw us off. But instead she was just neat. She wanted to know where we were from and invited a parley. As we were leaving, we crossed her road one last time. This time, her brass lit up. Then she sang us a poem.
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A vocable, for anyone interested.
When I return to the U.S. I pleasure be making art works based on images and experiences collected on this stumble. In an effort to raise the standard of value I need to get myself and my bike back from Argentina, I am pre-selling plenteous of this work, asking 50% of the bargain for price up front, the rest upon shipping. There will be prints, drawings, watercolors and embroideries.. something for everyone, in just about each budget range. Prices and all other distinct parts can be found on this PDF, downloadable by way of Dropbox.
In response to this, more folks have offered to simply donate money to keep the project going. For anyone who wants to conclude this, I will make a piece of art and put it confused in the world in your glory.
For more information, please email me at heath@heatherLjohnson.com.
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