Chapter 28::Table of Contents::Chapter 30

Chapter 29
Interlude in Cochabamba
To Sucre
Sucre Part 1

SUN MAR 4,

Awoke, had a short breakfast of coffee & rolls, and started writing a letter home.

I used the typewriter here and surprised myself at my still remembered typing ability. I typed until Carlos came in and asked if I wanted to take a ride to Quillacolla, a suburb outside town. He had gotten the cable on his cycle fixed, and with a friend named Franz, he, N, C & I all took off on the two cycles. I rode with Carlos and N rode with Franz. We stopped in a store in Quill. where Franz had to pay a bill or something. There we stood around looking at a Honda Gold Wing 1000 Cycle. Then off to the market for a little sausage sandwich. Then we came back. By this time it was time to go to lunch.

Tia Martha, Carlos, Maria Inez, N & I got a taxi and rode to the Yugoslavian Refugee Club or Something. Apparently the family goes there every day for lunch, they have an assigned table, but because there were 2 more of us today, we had to ask permission to put two tables together. Lunch was accompanied by more of Carlos’s jokes. He likes puns and witty sayings more than I do. He has no qualms about telling questionable sexual jokes at the dinner table. After lunch we came back and I resumed typing until tea time.

Just as we were finished with tea, Gonzalo, wife, & 2 kids showed up to take us all for a ride. Everybody piled into his Datsun pick-up. N, Maria, & I riding in the back. We had to stop at Gonz. house for some books & shorts for Maria, then drove around town for a while. At one point, G stopped and said that his front left tire was going flat. So we proceeded to change the tire. Once the tire was changed, as N, M, & I were sitting in the back waiting to go, a truck filled with kids drove by. One of them had a water balloon (I thought balloon season was over!) We were sitting ducks. He hurled the balloon at us, it hit me in the shoulder, and splattered all over me and N.

We drove to the tire - repair shop and dropped off the tire. Then up to a hill near town where we had a good view of the city. There was an Indian Carnival of some sort taking place down below and we could see the crowd in the street. We could also see the wet spot in the road where all the cars that drove by got splashed by balloons & pails of water.

On our way back down the hill we stopped to watch a plane land at the airport. Plane landings are still a big thing in S.A. Then we drove around a small lake near town watching the sunset from the back of the truck. Into town and after a couple circles around the market, we stopped at one place to buy some ice-cream. They didn’t have the flavors we wanted, so we went to another place. From there we came back to the house. By then it was time for dinner.

Carlos & Maria went out and bought some pizza so we had pizza for the 1st time in 5 mos. After dinner I resumed my letter home. About midnite I quit, still not finished. I wanted to crash but N was busy writing with the light on in the bedroom. I finally convinced him to turn off the light & got to sleep.

MON MAR 5,

After a lite breakfast I resumed typing the letter home. It’s turned out to be 10 single spaced pages.

About noon, N told me we were to meet the rest of the family for lunch at the Yugo. Club. So I put down my letters and picked up my shoes. Off we walked to lunch. The rest of the family wasn’t there when we got there so we sat in the park enjoying the warm weather and the girls. Finally Tia showed up followed shortly by Carlos. We ate lunch, Maria showing up late.

When lunch was over Carlos took off back to work on his cycle and N, M, Tia & I walked over to the park, bought some fruit, and sat there chatting. Soon Maria’s ride back to the bank came along on her cycle and off she went. We sat with Tia until 2 and then escorted her back to work. She works in a photo shop, the best in Cbba. I looked over some strobes, minimum price, $30. And considered leaving a roll of 64 to see how my pics were turning out. Maybe do that tomorrow.

From the photo shop to the bank to cash a checque. The 1st one wouldn’t touch it, so we walked around the plaza looking for a Casa de Cambio. Found one but they wouldn’t take it either. But finally at the Banco do Brasil I got my cash. Then off to the P.O. to check on mail. N got a letter from yet another of his girl friends, a couple letters for the family, but no jeans or pics from Hec. Then around the corner to the Aduana to see if our packages mailed last Sept. from Colombia ever arrived. Nope. That one may be gone with the wind.

So much for receiving, now for sending. We went up to the telegraph office and sent 3 ’grams. One to each of our folks requesting money sent to Hec., & one to Hec. requesting film sent to us. While waiting for our ’grams to be processed, there was another fellow standing there filling out his telegram form. It was a vote for some musical chairman in N.Y. He signed his name Walter Ponce. Earlier that day we had seen posters advertising a piano concert by Walter Ponce. We didn’t need to go now, we’ve already seen him.

Then off to buy N a notebook. Today was the 1st day of school and all the papelerias were filled to the gills. No notebook today. Then back to the house by way of the California Donut Shop. Back here I finished my letter home. Then N & I got involved in figuring out how far it is from Duluth to Cbba. [(Earth’s polar radius x 2 pi) / 360o] x 70o approx. eq. 7,700 km.

Then it was time for dinner. Usually served about 9:30, today’s installment was a meat & rice glop dish. After dinner I crashed.

TUES MAR 6,

Had a quick breakfast of coffee.

We loaded up my shoes and N’s sandals and walked down to the shoe repair store. N had to get the soles nailed on to his sandals, the glue wasn’t holding too well. I finally took my shoes in to get the stitching fixed on the outside of one, and the leather glued back down on the inside of both.

After dropping off the shoes (be done tomorrow afternoon) we walked around looking for tape cassettes. Bought 2 60 minuters. Then we went to the P.O. to mail my letter home. No new mail. Then we looked in about a dozen papelerias for a notebook for N. He wanted one like this one, with finer ruling. Not only don’t they have notebooks with fine lines, they don’t have any spiral books this size that aren’t quadrated. So, finally, he wound up buying a bound notebook 1/2 this size, with wide lines.

Business completed, we came back to the house to make a tape for Hector, Ed & Doc. We stopped along the way at a little food stand down the street for a quick sandwich for me and 7up for both of us. Back at the house we plugged in the tape recorder but it didn’t record. It played back, the microphone worked, but it wouldn’t record. We finally decided the head must be dirty. Was it ever! Must not have been used for years. After a thorough scrubbing with a cloth soaked in alcohol, it worked fine.

We proceeded to spend the next few hours taking stuff off the radio and relating a few of our more interesting experiences. N ate some SP for the event, but I declined. The neighbor guy came by to find out why we weren’t going to lunch with the family. N had intimated that we wouldn’t be there, but had to call the Club and talk to his Aunt to make it official.

Carlos came by to check on us after he finished eating. Satisfied that we didn’t want any lunch, he left us to our madness. We spent most of the afternoon taping. Finished about 4. Then we went out back and washed some clothes. This completed, I came in and snoozed ’til the rest of the family came home.

Carlos bought some singani and we sat around drinking singani & 7, watching the novellas on T.V. Very very cheesy. The soaps over, we sat down to a dinner of dulce de choclo, a corn bread. After dinner everybody was ready to sleep.

WED MAR 7,

N got up and went off to the market to look at ponchos, etc. and to buy bus tickets for FRI. I stayed behind to write some post cards.

Later I grabbed his camera and walked down to the Pension for lunch. Along the way I ran into Marinez and her friend on the moto. I continued on and ran into N & Tia Marta just before reaching the Pension . After lunch we walked back to the park. I took some photos of the flowers and the lake , then joined the rest on the bench. Mari’s friend came by and picked her up on the moto.

At 2 we walked down to the shoe repair shop to pick up the shoes. N was feeling hot & tired, so I left him to collect the soles, and walked on to buy some repair articles for the camera bag. 1st I stopped and bought some “D” rings and 2 screws & bolts. Then on to the P.O. to mail cards. No new mail. Then off to a talabateria to try and buy a piece of leather to replace the ailing camera bag strap. None to be found. The rain clouds were gathering so I headed back to the house. On the way I saw a helicopter flying around. Shortly thereafter a parachutist appeared. He must have landed somewhere in the city, but I saw not where.

Back at the house (dodging rain drops along the way) N was busy writing 3 letters at once. [1] I loaded all the exposed 200 into a can and rolled out another 100’. I put the exposed 200 & 64 in the fridge for cool-keeping until we return from Sucre.

Marie called and said to meet her at the theater at 6:20. It was 6:15 when we left, so we took a taxi. At the cine we waited a while for her and she finally showed. The film was “The Dog”. An Alfred Hitchcock-esque version of Lassie Come Home. This dog follows an escaped prisoner all across the country on orders from its dying master. The dog gets it in the end but before that, terrorizes the countryside and the poor fellow, who’s only trying to help a guerilla group overthrow the local dictator. The film was made in Argentina or some Spanish speaking country, with English dubbed in, and Spanish sub-titles. Half way thru the film N had to leave due to gas cramps & exploding guts. M & I watched the rest of the film without him as he wound up sitting in the back to be closer to the can.

We took a taxi back to the house. We went over to a little stand up the street and ate sausage-burgers (Argentine style) for dinner. Back at the house everybody tuned into the soaps, a Brazilian version of Mary Hartman featuring a Mayor trying to inaugurate a new cemetery, except that somebody keeps robbing the bodies before he gets a chance. I tuned out to write and retire.

Thurs MAR 8,

N was back at his letters again this morn. He’s in the middle of about 3.

He called his Uncle J. in Sucre and told him we’ll be arriving tomorrow eve. I finished my drunken letter to Dudley, then it was off to lunch. We found out it may be possible to have one of the LAB stews take film to the states for us to bypass the mails and insure safe delivery. Have to check into that. To the park again after lunch.

Then off to a papeleria to buy envelopes to contain the tape for Hector. I mailed that certified & the card to Dudley. N got a couple of letters from his folks and one from Patty, telling him “No” in no uncertain terms. That bummed him out. A dear John letter always hurts, especially when the lady’s as nice as Patty.

We walked down to the market. Along the way a fellow stopped us and offered to sell us a fossilized trilobite embedded in a rock. He wanted 200 Just for the sake of bargaining I offered him 100 and wound up buying it! A $5 rock. I’m a sucker for a sale of unique items such as this. Any other place or time and I would have laughed in his face, but it looks real enough and will make a good conversation piece, so I bought it. We laughed about that ’til we got to the market. On the way I saw a most beautiful lady walking toward us. As she passed she said “Hello”, I just about jumped her on the spot. But she walked on by and so did I. I’m so horny these days anything looks good. (chickens?!?!)

We walked around looking for strips of leather but there were none to be found. So I wound up buying a belt and a dog collar. We walked back to the house by way of the shoe store. I didn’t get my boots yesterday which was just as well, because we had to wait around today for the guy to finish gluing a piece inside the heels. It will probably just come right out when I start walking, but he sewed the torn part and that should hold.

Back at the house N resumed typing and I operated on the camera bag strap. I replaced the whole strap, and one “D” ring with the one from the dog collar. Didn’t even use the ones I bought yesterday. It’s now better than new. I then wrote a letter to Fred concerning the import-export business. We discussed investing some money in a bowling alley down here. I then packed up my pack for the early morn. departure tomorrow. [2]

After dinner and the soap, I retired to write and N to type. He’ll be up all night finishing his several letters to folks, Dorth, Marti, etc.

FRI MAR 9,

Got up brite and early to the sound of the clock chimes.

We got our stuff ready to go last nite so all we had to do was stash remaining odds and ends in the storage closet, put on our clothes, grab a quick cup of coffee with Tia Marta, call a cab, say good-by to Carlos, and off we went. At the bus station we saw a long line of folks waiting to get their packages weighed and tagged. We found out they were still waiting for the 6:30 bus. It didn’t leave until 7:15. Then about 7:30 our bus showed up but soon a fellow came up to us and said the bus to Sucre wasn’t going because it had bad brakes.

This was confirmed and denied. Indeed that bus wasn’t going, but there was another bus coming from another company that would take us. So we waited, occupying our time looking at the semi-nudes on the calendars and the girls on the street. Any company worth anything in Bolivia puts out a calendar with a picture of a girl in no more than a bikini and no less than a lifted leg [3] to hide her privates. We’re becoming real connoisseurs of calendar ladies. Some are attractive, like the one above the T.V. at Tia Martas, some are just nude with nothing going for them other than an exposed tit or thigh, and some are just ugly. The girls (live) in Cbba are attractive, too. The clothing style is tight blue jeans, shirts with shirt tails out, and high heels. Always high heels. We even saw a lady in a wheel chair wearing high heels.

Finally our bus showed up and then began the process of loading on the luggage and passengers. We got inside and there was a German fellow sitting in my seat. I said “That’s my seat”. He said “It’s mine too”. “Let’s see your ticket” sez I. So he pulls it out and it’s for seat #29 “This is #19” I said, and so got my seat.

At the 1st lunch stop N & I got out and had an almuerzo at a rest. near by. At this point the paved road ended. We started going down from the mtn. heights and for most of the rest of the ride it was hot and dusty. Cactus grew along the road and it looked very dry. At one point, coming to a bridge to cross a small river, the bus stopped and we all had to walk across the bridge . The reason was obvious. Part of the bridge was washed away. Only a 3’ wide path led to the bridge , which was twisted in the middle. The footings were obviously damaged. We learned later that during one flood, the water, now 20’ below the level of the bridge, had washed over the bridge,. The bus drove across thru the river a ways down stream, the water reaching the top of the tires .

At the 2nd lunch stop we noticed a fellow getting off the bus stopped in front of us. He looked very familiar. It was Andrew from N.J. whom we had met in Cartagena our 1st day there. We talked for a while about the Inca trail and the earthquake in Peru. A little farther down the road, rumbly bumping along, a flour sack fell off the top of the bus. People in the back seat noticed it and shouted and whistled for the driver to stop. It was recovered in one piece and, reloaded, we resumed the ride.

We got to Sucre about 6:30, collected our packs, and took a taxi, along with the Germ. seat claimer and his friend, to uncle Jorge’s. [4] Tio wasn’t home, but Tia was and we were shown to our room. Paintings of N’s relatives hang on the walls. [5] One of the Archbishop of the Vice - Royalty of Sucre or something, and one of a great-great grandmother (?). Even N doesn’t know for sure. The house has a patio (garden, atrium, whatever it is inside) and is more like a museum than a house.

We went upstairs to the sitting room, complete with ornate doodads all over, fancy rickety furniture, paintings (originals) on the walls, and talked with Tia and Jr ’til Tio got home. Then we went downstairs to the dining room, complete with color T.V. and had chile rellenos for dinner. We watched “The Lawman” while eating. When we’d finished Juan - Eduardo come home from the Beer Factory where he works. A reported Gnostic Missionary (Ruth’s brother) and a very nice fellow.

After dinner we walked around the plaza with Jr. As we left it began to rain and it stopped as soon as we got back. Then as we were getting ready to retire, JE asked if we’d like to go to a bar and talk to a friend of his about Tarabuco. Up until this point we’d been planning to go to Tarab. tomorrow. We had borrowed Jr’s little sports pack, and with N’s day pack, had loaded up sleeping bags, tent & ponchos. It was fairly certain that there’d be no hotels with available rooms, so we’d have to camp. Then the question became what to do with camping gear while we were at the festivities. We might be able to leave it with Leslie & Amy if they were even there and had a hotel room, or we might be able to leave it with a friend of JE’s if He was there, or else we’d have to carry it on our backs. Too many “ifs” and not enough reason to be there on Sat left us with the choice of waiting until Sun and going with the rest of the tourists. After talking to the fellow from the bar who told us that the drinking begins Sat. nite, we began to lean towards the Sunday option. Less gear to carry, no need to camp in the rain, no hastle with where to stash tent, etc. It just seemed like a better Idea.

So we sat up with JE talking about things from his nifty 8mm movie camera to Von Danekin. He may be able to find us some smoke & toot. He’s out of it himself, but has friends that still do it. We had a beer, talked some more, said good nite to the dog and crashed out about 12.

SAT MAR 10.

Got up to breakfast about 9. Tio and JE had already gone to work.

We said hello to the 2 parrots out back by the kitchen and to the canaries in the patio. Then Jr took us for a spin around the plaza. As soon as we left the house it began to rain. Our 1st stop was the tourist office. There we got info on Tarabuco, bus times, parade route, and a bit of history. It seems the Tarabuceñoes fought a battle against the Spanish on Mar. 12 some years back and won. This celebration is to commemorate that day. We also tried to get some posters at the T.O. but they were out. Then I tried to get a “Bolivia Reclama Su Mar” flag for Hector but they didn’t have one or know where I could get one. But they did have another one with much more writing on it and gave me that one.

We went off to visit Tio Jorge at the Ford dealership. He showed us around the truck garage and we listened to him talk about politics and the govt. He’s a very conservative man. Doesn’t want his kid going to school with the Indians, etc. There we were introduced to Gonzalo who is in some way related to Tio J’s 1st or 2nd wife. He said he’d come by and drive us around town later in the afternoon.

Soon Jr. took off to go somewhere, and N& I walked back to the house (in the rain) by way of a postcard shop. There we bought several postcards and 2 posters of the Carnival in Tarb. Back at the house it was almost time for lunch. Uncle J. served us a couple stiff scotches and we stood around enjoying the brief sun (it stopped raining when we got back to the house), listening to the caged birds in the patio, and petting the dog [6] . We settled down to a lunch of a big potato, covered with a yellow “hot” sauce that wasn’t hot, and stuffed with some kind of cheese.

After lunch we got a tour of the house. Uncle J’s office has a big collection of canes, one with a small clock in the handle, one out of pure ivory, one piece. Then into the drawing room complete with antique furniture, paintings of ancestors on the wall, and a cheap foosball table on which JE & Jr. played a game while we continued the tour. Into the dining room which has many ornate plates on display, several inlaid with mother of pearl. Also has a big chandelier that used to be kerosene powered, but is now converted to electricity. More paintings and antique furniture. Then upstairs to the sitting room we were in the 1st day here. Then into a small parlor with more paintings and French Style furniture. Off the sitting room was a balcony (or roof, really) above the dining room providing a view of the rooftops of Sucre. On display at the top of the stairs were several chests and a cabinet with many drawers, inlaid with wood. In the parlor was a Chinese vase and some fancy glass-ware. Into another sitting room with a balcony overlooking the street. This room contained 2 fantastic cabinets with inlaid wood in the shape of flowers. Really beautiful. The chairs and couches were covered with cloth to protect the original material.

Back downstairs we sat in the patio for a while. It has a fountain (not functional) with goldfish, and flowers all around the perimeter. Tio J. gave us his short wave radio to play with. We retired to the room. N. wrote more on his many letters, and I fiddled with the radio, seeing what I would pick up. I finally settled for a classical station and dozed off.

About 4 Gonzalo came by and took us out for coffee. He was going to take us around town in his car but he had been rear - ended and had driven away from the accident so as to avoid the police (his driver’s license has been suspended) and much red tape. He parked his car in his garage and didn’t want to take it out for fear the rear - enders would recognize the car and report it to the fuzz. So we walked down to a cafe and had a cup of coffee.

From there we walked to the Church & Convent of San Felipe de Neri. Inside was a beautiful courtyard. We didn’t have cameras, and the sun was getting too low in the sky for good photos anyway. We walked upstairs and up to the roof. On the roof we marveled at the view of the city. The roof was not level, but had hills and valleys covered all over with colored tiles. There were many spire-like protrusions providing foreground for the photos we hope to take some morning when (if) the sun shines. We walked up farther into the bell tower. From there we had an even better view of the town and more picture opportunities. This is definitely a place to return to.

From San Felipe we walked back thru town to the park near Tio J.’s house. There is the supreme court building. A little farther down the road is another longer park. We walked along with Gonzalo, talking about the life in Sucre and the possibility of finding some girls. He wants to go with us to Tarabuco tomorrow and stopped by his cousin’s house to see if he too wanted to go. Nobody was home.

Gonzalo had to go to mass at 7 and N had to take a leak, so we parted company back at Tio J’s. The family here was also going to mass so we spent the intervening time writing. When they got back it was time for dinner. We had some chile relleno type things. After dinner the whole family gathered around the T.V. for the movie “The Destructors”, a not-too-poorly done espionage movie about some fellows trying to steal some new type of death-ray laser machine. When the crooks were finally captured we said good nite and retired.


[1] He had picked up his sandals but my boots wouldn’t be ready ’til 6.

[2] The neighbor guy (with the dog named “Lobo”) came by and presented us with some 5c coins minted privately back in the days of the big land owners.

[3] or artful cropping

[4] There we were greeted by the Indian maid and a big bull dog. It looked ferocious but turned out to be more afraid of us than vice-versa.

[5] Ybarnegaray

[6] Arisco, a big bull dog.

Chapter 28::Table of Contents::Chapter 30