May 18 – Why are my teeth turning green?
We all woke up with reports of minor levitation through the night, thanks to the power of balls. I also woke up to a familiar Hoo! noise. Looks as if by pure cosmic convergence I have stumbled across a local Hoo! chapter. (See http://www.yourmother.com/antarctica January 20, in particular.)
Robert and I hit the town to exchange our Brasillian reals into some form of usable currency but we couldn’t figure out a reputable or safe way to do it. The sidewalks were littered with podiums, all manned or womanned by people holding huge wads of cash and offering the best rates in town. They were a pickpocket’s dream. A thief could easily stand in the crowd of migrating pedestrians and watch to see how much money you exchanged and where you hid it on your person. If that weren’t sketchy enough the operators of the booths pretended to speak little English so as to create a more confusing and helpless situation, one where ripping you off would be as easy as overturning a Bolivian government. But as soon as you’d turn around and walk away their English suddenly became fluent and desperate. We also walked into a few cambrio offices but they were so seedy and mafia-esque we didn’t even stop to talk to anyone. Instead we made a trek to the airport because at least they had a standard exchange rate. It was an adventure in and of itself because neither of us spoke Spanish. Worse still, the cambrio was only open when international flights arrived which was only once every few hours. Ah, what’s another weekend living like Devon?
Speaking of Devon, on a whim we stopped in an internet café and the first email we saw was from Devon. It was titled "I AM IN BOLIVIA." We weren’t expecting him until later today but apparently he came in last night and, with no money, snuck into a hostel room with some Swedes. He was currently across the street at another internet café.
Speaking of internet cafés, with one on every block I was surprised that I could not find a single mailbox, not even at the post office.
Speaking of cafés, we met up with Devon and had some more balls and french toast and coffee and sugary coca tea at Karin’s.
Speaking of sugary, my teeth are turning blue-ish green and I’m starting to think it has something to do with the toothpaste I bought yesterday.
Speaking of yesterday, Robert and I found a flyer for a band called La Revolta – "el mejor de hardcore y punk!" Not wanting to miss the best hardcore punk band in town we went with Devon into the one of the poorer districts of La Paz. As we walked up to the venue mouths dropped, conversations stopped, and eyes scanned. Three gringos looking like we did were not the usual fare for this part of town, especially at this late hour. We walked up to the front door and the lady was very surprised when we asked what the cover charge was. I’m guessing she was expecting us to be lost tourists seeking help with finding a cab or summonsing the police. We paid our 3 bolivianos (or "B’s" – about $.80 USD) and stepped inside. The venue was the size of your average gas station garage. Between us and the other side of the room were about 40 people crammed into tables. The far wall was a bar. Above the bar, on an indoor balcony, sat the stage. Standing at the bar you were actually under the stage. To access the stage you had to climb a flight of stairs to the left of the bar, by the baños.
That’s where we were ushered, beside the bar, next to the baños, under the stage, under the stairs. Devon was forced to lean forward so his head didn’t hit the steps above him. Our ‘waiter’ brought us menus offering drinks like the Double Breast, the Baby Diaper, and Placenta. We each ordered a Sprite but were delivered what Devon believed was rocket fuel. It was colorless and bubble-less. I called it Sprout in light of all the other Sudamerican bootleg items bearing names similar to their originals but all lacking the essence. I also refused to drink it because, at best, it was a step up from urine and a step down from diet chocolate soda, and at worst it would give me giardia and have me shitting myself on the way home (and not in the fun way). The other two drank theirs and judging by their faces I made the right decision.
The band soundchecked for an hour running through punk and hardcore standards like Black Sabbath’s "Paranoid" and Led Zepplin’s "Black Dog" and what ended up being their opening number, Deep Purple’s "Smoke On The Water." We naturally assumed revolta meant ‘revolt’ but as we found out later it also means ‘scrambled’ as in ‘scrambled eggs.’ This paints a significantly less dangerous image, but a much more appropriate one, as decided when the band launched into their second original tune, a soft, one-riff ballad that only the singer’s girlfriend moved to.
We left shortly thereafter and decided that some real danger was in order. We chose the sketchy route home and walked it, but the only real dangers we encountered were some roving dogs, the always slippery stone sidewalks, and the fear of what was in the drink Robert and Devon drank.
WHN? in Sudamerica - May 2002
0 – Please wake me for meals.
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