Friday, October 29, 2010


July 23, 2010

As of yesterday afternoon my water situation was becoming slightly more problematic.

With the only running water in sight coming from my neighbor's tap in the middle of the clearing, I had all but resigned myself to sub-par cleansing with my Fresh Bath shower wipes (“a backpacker's best friend”) for the entirety of my stay here. If there is anything less refreshing than the slightly sticky residue of sweat, smeared dirt, and flowery-smelling detergent these wipes leave behind on the skin, it's the fact that I only have six of them to get me through two weeks. Gross.

Lucky for me, everyone else smells too.

Along similar, but more troublesome lines, after a long and exhausting day of work I visited my neighbor's tap with my two-liter water bottle so I could treat the water for drinking overnight. The tap gurgled as I opened the spigot and then made a quiet sucking noise as air rushed in. Well that's unfortunate, I said out loud as I looked at my empty bottle. Behind me, two young boys played in the dust beside the house, laughing as they chased a handful of terrified peeping balls of fluff around the dirt. Tiny toothpick legs fluttered as fast as they could but alas, they were never fast enough to escape the cunning wit of the jungle five-year old; one by one the fluffy peepers disappeared into a wooden crate beside the house where they would be safe overnight. I asked the boys what happened to the water. For several seconds they paused from their game to stare at me with what I can only describe as five year-old disdain.. No hay (there is none), the older boy finally said with a quick shrug before turning his attention back to the chicks.

Right. No big deal, I told myself; I'll wait until later and try again. “Later” came and went, and water did not arrive on its heels. I went to bed actively working to quell the vague sense of panic knocking at my door and hoped the situation would work itself out in the morning. Bang, Bang. Coo coo, CooRaaaaaw! Squitter squitter squeeeak SquealSquealSqueal. BarkBarkBarkgrowwwwwwl, Bang; my nighttime soundtrack settled in and I giggled in helpless, exhausted delight at the thought of recording the charming layers of discordant melody for one of those white noise soundtracks: “Nighttime in San Ignacio: a soothing and curious soundtrack of rare jungle discourse.”

Moths the likes of which you've never seen...
Photo doesn't do them justice.

I've by now become accustomed to my dance party wake up call each morning....with timeless classics like Red, Red, Wine” (UB40), “Bad Boys” (Inner Circle), and “Be My Lover” (La Bouche) blasting into my room at 4 AM it's pretty hard not to wake up in a cheery, ready-to-dance mood (false.). At the very least it adds another layer of ridiculousness to laugh at amidst the nighttime rancor.


Hike to water source
Fortunately, the tap was running again by morning. I filled my drinking water bottle and vowed to find a better, more reliable source over the course of the day that did not involve taking what I now understood to be scarce water resources from any of my neighbors. As it has done so many times before, the jungle once again rewarded my patience and cool head: while hiking to my first cafetal of the day, the farmer I was with led me down into a valley through which ran two pristine mountain streams. The water was sufficiently clear for drinking without filtration (though I still treated it), the stream was sufficiently secluded for bathing, and the banks were sufficiently flat for successful laundry washing: check, check, and check, in the briefest of instants my most basic needs had all been met. After a day full of coffee picking and coffee cargando (“hauling;” read: balancing a 40 lb sack of dried coffee on my shoulders as I hiked back down into the valley, over two streams on slippery smooth wet rocks, up the other side of the valley, and back to the farmer's home), I was more than ready for a good bath, even if it meant another hour of hiking to get to the stream and back.

My shower...
I made it just in time to catch the warmth of the late afternoon sun as I sullied the pristine water with non-eco friendly (for shame!) shampoo and soap. I watched the water weave its way around groups of mossy boulders, dump over flattened rock ledges, and slowly swirl into peripheral pools. My eyes drifted upwards to take in the lush green forests, vines, and undergrowth that climbed up the mountains on either side of me before my gaze finally settled upstream on the glow of the setting sun that cast amber reflections on the silky water that flowed around my knees. My mind drifted to unpleasant memories of dark showers with flying frogs, fake shampoo, and peeping neighbors; it thought back to frigid tile floors and exploding fuse boxes...and I smiled as it peacefully floated back to the present: the water was brisk and the air was cool, but the sun was warm and I was clean. It is safe to say this was not only the best bathing experience I'd yet had in my month and a half in Bolivia, but was truly the only bathing experience I'd had that was not wholly unpleasant from start to finish (okay, the strawberry BioSilk day in Chijchipani wasn't bad either...). I hiked back to the Centro de Acopio grinning from ear to ear and carrying a heavy bag of dripping wet (rinsed only) “clean” clothes. I fashioned myself a makeshift clothesline on the concrete outside using a couple long sticks I found in the weeds balanced between the backs of two of the chairs in my room, and ate some tuna and crackers on the concrete outside as the sun finally slipped behind the mountains. 

Home Life...b'gawwwwk


Plucky Poultry finishing my breakfast

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