Thursday, March 15, 2007

Hella Pastoral

Bolivia is positively something out of a Cormac McCarthy novel. Our crossing from La Quiaca was tough - nine consecutive passes over 13000 feet. We wheezed our way through some of the shortest days of the whole trip - usually no more than fifteen or twenty miles between breakfast and dinner. Rain, thunder, and lightning every night promptly at 7:30. Sun every morning to dry our tents and gear before another day of big passes and smoked lunch meats. Each of us carried between 10 and 12 liters of water everyday and if it hadn't rained so much I doubt we would have been able to find enough agua along the way to actually make it between towns. This is the country where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid came to pull their final heists (they died in a gun fight in San Vincente). It is easy to see how outlaws would be drawn to the zigzagging canyons and ridge lines that cover the Altiplano...lots and lots of really good places to hide out and play gin rummy. We talk a lot about that cowboys riding late into the mountains around here, drinking muddy water and eating cactus shoots. Except instead of horses they would probably be riding llamas. They would be really dehydrated too unless they found lots of lizards too eat. Harris makes fun of America's general obsession with charismatic mega-fauna but looking at these mountains really makes me want to track, capture, and tame a wolf to act as my travelling companion and night time guardian for bad dreams. This fantasy is actually straight out of "The Crossing" by Cormac McCarthy and is probably the greatest non-novella of all time. Thinking about cowboys can make you feel tough when you are curled up alone and cold at night in your tent wishing you would just fall asleep and escape the shame of having had to push your bike up the last pass of the day.


Blogger rt said...

I love 1) Cormac references; 2) posting bonanza.

3:15 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

yeah, word to the Crossing, if there are wolves anywhere in South America, Bolivia has got to be the place. maybe you can find yourself one?

and keep up the posting deluge if you can, sitting on my butt in Beijing, it's good to read of you guys "riding like young thieves in a glowing orchard, loosely jacketed against the cold and ten thousand worlds for the choosing"

4:45 AM  

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