A Travellerspoint blog

Better days


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Most people remember Potosi for reasons such as the astonishing mine tours or its status as the highest city of its size in the world.

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I will forever remember it as the place where I bashed my head and had to brave the Bolivian medical and dental systems to get fixed up.

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What happened? Well, I hate to brag but I was a real hero out there... singlehandedly thwarting the gang of shotgun armed thugs who stormed the hotel in the middle of the night. They got a couple of good shots in, I admit. The cuts and gashes near my eye were when I couldn´t quite dodge the flying knives fast enough. But the black eye? That was accidental. Hey, sometimes you misjudge the speed of a falling baby when you swoop down from the balcony to catch it. Please forgive me. And the bloody mouth and broken tooth? That was obviously from the wild boars that the robbers brought with them. Man, those things are fast and charge hard. I´ll be more prepared next time. Currently they are building a shrine and gold-embossed monument in my honour in the plaza square. After renaming it Plaza de Brian of course.

You don´t believe me? Well, ok. Maybe the real story was a little more stupid and a little more embarrasing. Maybe it involved something along the lines of goofing off near a toxic landfill. And sprinting down hills with Jodie on my back. And losing balance and smashing my head on pavement and being dragged unconscious to the side of the road and all that trivial stuff. But I swear there were also shotguns and flying babies and boars.

Aftermath:
The gashes were not a problem. Those always go away. I was a little nervous getting stitches in a public Bolivian clinic but the nurses were very professional and caring.

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The big problem from the get go was my front left top tooth, which after it connected with cement, was left hanging by the slightest of gum tissue. Originally I really thought I was going to have to pull a Lennox and return home to get it fixed. That was until I was blessed with the consultations of Dr´s Woolsmith, Shutsa, and Resnick. I am forever in debt to these guys for guiding me with pinpoint instructions and advice. More importantly, they relieved a lot of stress and anxiety. I can not thank them enough nor Tandis and Chris for putting me in contact.

This is Dr. Mirko Coronado, the greatest dentist in Potosi. I hope I will not retract that statement in 2 weeks when all my teeth fall out. He didn´t speak much english but was very good at understanding it. Conversely, I am now much more adept at my spanish dental terms. Anyways, to say I was nervous is an understatement. I don´t even like dental surgery back home. So to do it in Bolivia? With a man who was constantly distracted chatting to Jen while he was operating? With a man who kept repeating ¨es muy dificil¨ with a little smirk on his face? With a man who turns up for work each day 1 hour late? I am one lucky SOB to be able to say I think everything is in order. There will be a lot of retreatment to do when I get home such as fitting myself for a new gold tooth. But Dr, Coronado, you´ve done a lot in the meantime. Thanks.

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As bad as things were, at least there was no other significant damage. Im grateful as hell that Jodie just bruised her knee...I would have never forgiven myself if she ended up like me. I´m fortunate my concussion wasn´t more severe and that I didn´t hit my eye instead of my mouth. And I´m lucky the Bolivian medical system isn´t as bad as it sounds. Maybe you should come here for your next procedure. Check out my bills, ridiculous:

X-ray: $1.50
1 week supply of antibioitics: $1.50
Stitches and medical visit: $2.00
Dental consultation: $1.50 (plus a complimentary vial of local anaesthesia)
Root canal, tooth bonding, etc.: $60

Finally, I´m thankful as hell for my amazing friends, whose travel plans I´ve likely fucked up and yet they´re too selfless to give a damn. I feel much worse for them than for me. It would have sucked here by myself without you guys giving me grief, reminding me how hideous I look, and patching me up with silly donut bandages. You guys are something else.

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The adventure continues...barely.

Posted by bchu 13:00 Archived in Bolivia Comments (3)

New beginnings

rain 15 °C
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Your bags are perched atop the minibus, random people keep jumping in and out, and you´re staring out the window from an altitude of some 4100 metres. It doesn´t take long to realize you´re in a different world now, a circus of a country named Bolivia.

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You stroll around and you keep noticing new things at every corner. Elderly women wearing veils and large bowl-like hats. Shoeshine boys wearing masks to keep from shaming their families. A multitude of houses scattered on the hills, reminiscent of tiny cardboard boxes. Little buses scurrying up and down the roads, picking up passengers in some organized chaos. And twenty barber shops in a half block radius.

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We´re staying in a colourful area aptly named ¨The Witches´ Market.¨ You can buy anything here: coca leaves, llama fetuses, toilet bowls, lizard skins, magical sex oils, anything. And at dirt cheap prices. I´m hoping to send some interesting souvenirs home.

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What else in the first 36 hours? Jen´s been attempted pickpocketed. Pete broke some kid´s toy after being too enthusiastic about playing with it. The first museum we´ve visited this whole trip...the Museo de Coca, highlighting the extraction of cocaine from coca leaves. And we couldn´t take out any more money last night...so we used our remaining equivalent of $10 to feast 6 people on a various assortment of fried chicken concoctions in our hostel room. Why couldn´t we get cash? Well, the hostel strictly advised not to go to the ATMs along the bank row on Sundays. And if we wanted to change cash at that hour, our best bet was to go to ¨the two guys on the corner of the plaza square¨...yea right!

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I don´t know where we´re going from here. But I got this feeling that both the sketchy and adventure metres just shot up a few levels. Just the way I like it.

Posted by bchu 15:14 Archived in Bolivia Comments (1)

4am thoughts

semi-overcast 19 °C
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The metal bench wrenches my backbone, it´s dividers contorting my body into a new uncomfortable position every five minutes. Any sleep during my overnight stay at the airport has become a lost cause.

So my mind wanders, again. To the same related topics that have irked me the past few days. I start questioning whether all of it is for something like this,

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or this.

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Or maybe neither. Doubt parades around everything. I catch a glimpse of the 20 yr. old backpacker in me. Shit, the last thing I want.

Argentina and Chile were amazing...but lacking some of the intrigue and novelty that I´m holding out hope Bolivia and Peru will soon provide. But even then, the big picture, does it add up? This is not about South America anymore, is it?

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Not sure where I´ll be next Monday. The plan says Bolivia. My air ticket says Bolivia. My friends are going to Bolivia. It´s obviously Bolivia.

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¨A dominant impulse on encountering beauty is the desire to hold on to it: to possess it and give it weight in our lives. There is an urge to say ´I was here, I saw this and it mattered to me.´ But beauty is fugitive, it is frequently found in places to which we may never return or else it results from a rare conjunction of season, light, and weather. How then to process it, how to hold on to the floating train (the sinking car), the halva-like bricks (the crumbled toilet) or the English valley (or the granite peaks)?¨ - The Art of Travel, p.218

¨We meet people who have crossed deserts, floated on icecaps and cut their way through jungles - and yet whose souls we would search in vain for evidence of what they have witnessed.¨ - Ibid, p.254

Posted by bchu 02:56 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Twenty-oh-seven


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¨So this is, so this is, the new year. And I don´t feel any different.¨

Man, New Years is so overrated but hope yours went well anyways. I´m gonna try to post more random trip photos on Flickr from here on out. Peace.

Posted by bchu 12:40 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

A few days in Uruguay

a few days too little

sunny 35 °C
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What´s in a sunset? Shouldn´t be much. Happens everyday. The same sun, at more or less the same time. But sometimes one just captivates you every now and then, unleashes a wave of tranquility through the system. That would kinda describe the other day in Colonia. Riding a motoscooter down the beachside road, gazing at the fading sun. Stopping for a game of foosball on the side of the road, half an eye still focused on the reddish orange glow. And before you know it, you´re sprinting to the beach, part of you snapping 100 photos, the other half in complete peace with everything. Minutes later the sun disappears with the moment. You hear the noise around you again. You´re a little jaded. And your motoscooter is out of fuel and you have to push it a couple kilometres back up the road of familiarity.

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The side trip to Uruguay has fully erased any regret that might still be lingering over heading to the coast instead of up north these few weeks. Colonia was spectacular...a sweet little throwback town, which we tore up on our dinky motorscooters that were somewhow louder than fighter jets. We were not impressing anyone with these things, just annoying the hell out of them with all the noise. Colonia was also our introduction to the Uruguayan obsession with meat (many will admit that the best carne and asado is in Uruguay). One of their traditional dishes is a chovito...a steak topped with ham, bacon, cheese, a fried egg, and garnished with fries. That, my friends, is a good meal. Some miscellaneous pictures:

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The road out of Colonia took us to San Jose. This whole province of Uruguay isn´t even in any of our guidebooks. But it happens to be the hometown of my friend Ana who I worked with in Toronto. Unfortunately, she couldn´t make it home for the holidays but she was sweet enough to help arrange a visit for us nonetheless. So Ana, if you´re reading this, the rest of this post is dedicated to you. I gotta say that your sister and her family were the most gracious and hilarious people ever. You said the best asado is in Montevideo but our vote is for Hugo´s house in San José. Just because of the great time we had that first night with everyone, we changed our plans around and stayed another night there. And despite what your niece might tell you, we were not singing Britney Spears in a karaoke pub. Repeat, we were not! Thanks again Ana, hope you enjoy the pictures. My family is expecting you to make a visit out to Mississauga now.

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Posted by bchu 14:23 Archived in Uruguay Comments (1)

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