Chapter 33::Table of Contents::Chapter 35
Thurs MAR 29,
N got up early (like about 7:30) to go and cash money. I laid there and let him go.
He came back a little after 8 and muttered something about them not being open ’til 9. I went back to sleep. I heard him go out again. Then he came back saying something about the Banks of Bolivia being on strike. All the banks were on strike today. His temper began to rise and he went back out to try and cash bucks at the Toyauto dealership. I started putting my things together. He came back with the Bol. equiv. of a $20 bill. He had to cash a bill to get money. Plus he didn’t think the banks would be open tomorrow, either, because there were signs up in the plaza saying there was going to be a big Festival tomorrow.
We paid our bill with the lady and headed up the street. We went past the market and to the Miraflores. The lady said she did have a room for 2 but that someone else had to move out of it, and was in the process of doing so at the moment. We put our packs down in another room at the back of the courtyard. The courtyard had a big orange tree growing in the middle. The oranges were green. We sat on some chairs at the entrance to the courtyard. We watched the lady moving out. Soon, it seemed, she was finished, but no hotel personnel were there to check us in. We moved our packs into the room anyway. Then the dueña came in and we registered.
Once checked in we were struck with hunger. The market, according to the SA HB, has good food here, so there we went. We found the Api and fritter stands but N asked where to find things like eggs and rice. We were directed to another section just down the line. Here ladies stood in the aisle of the market with their stoves and food in plain display. The ladies shouted their menus. “There’s soup, there’s picanté de lengua, there’s roast beef, there’s Saisi”, etc. We found one appetizing stand after another. Finally one really good roast beef caught our eyes and we pulled in for an asado. For the 2 of us to have asado and split 1 ltr. of soda it cost 26 P.
We walked back out thru the api section. We wound up buying apis and some little cheeze fritters. The lady comes in to us with the api and asks us to test if it’s warm enough, she can make it warmer. The glass itself burns the fingers and the api, as N says “it sterilizes the tonsils”. “No lady”, you choke back, “it’s hot enough”.
From the market we went to the Tourist Office. Here we were greeted by a secretary who, when we asked her a question, would go to the door of her boss and ask the question to him. Each time she came back with another pamphlet (3 in all) about Tarija. We left and went over to the Lab Office to buy tickets back to Cbba. They had seats but couldn’t cash cheques which was all we had. But we could go to a Casa de Cambio and change them. N hadn’t seen any in his walk to cash bux this morn but, following the directions of the Lab employee and an intermediate cop, we found a place. They don’t cash cheques either, you have to go to a bank. Enough of this run around, we came back to the hotel to relax in our stuffed condition. 
About dinner time we consulted the SAHB
again for recommendations on dinner. They said the Rest. LaPaz was
a “pleasant surprise” Since it was only 1/2
block away, we decided to try it out. When we walked in all the neighborhood
kids were sitting on the floor of the “lobby” watching cartoons on
T.V. We selected a table in the back, away from the tube. We had the
place literally to ourselves. We ordered chateaubriands and a bottle
of the local vino, ARCE. The wine came 1st but was served
unprofessionally, we observed. This led to a period of wine tasting
and comments on such. The wine was definitely good. The best local
wine yet in
Feeling satisfied and slightly buzzed by the wine, we went out to find Don Pepe’s, a place Chino and Lucho in Sucre told us about. We got directions from the cute little lady here at the Miraflores. We walked down toward the river and at the intersection with “River Road” there was Don P’s. We could see folks in business suits partying upstairs. We looked around the back for the discotheque but found nothing.
Back out front we met 2 people and asked them about the discotheque. It was closed for remodeling or some such. But there was another place 3 or 4 blocks down called the “Lauros” that was open. We walked down there. More like 6 or 8 blocks, we found the Lauros but saw only a well lit restaurant with a TV blaring away. We walked in the door at the corner which let to a stairway which led to the 2nd floor, completely dark. We could hear people talking but could see nothing. “Not going to meet too many people here” N says. I was beginning to get bummed. 2 night creatures out for a good time and the only place we can find open is our hotel room.
We walked back by way of the Local Language School. We watched the young things getting out of classes and 2 started talking English to us. “What is your name?” one asks me “Norris” I said “He’s Mike” They confirmed our suppositions that Tarija was a dead little town, night-life-wise. So we came back to the hotel. This is the pits. No pot, no women, nowhere to go to just have a beer. Hotel rooms get smaller and smaller the more you stay inside.
FRI MAR 30,
N got up early again this morn to go cash bux.
The little lady “Carmen” told us the banks would be open today. He came back a while later with the cash. No problems. We went to the market for breakfast again. Today we tried Saisi with a bottle of vino (for breakfast?) The portions were small, cheap, and the wine was decidedly poor. We came back to the same api lady. Not so hot today. Then we went to the Lab Office to buy tickets. There was a flight on Tues. which sounded just about right. We bought 2 tickets worth $28 or so each.
The girls last night had told us that the Plaza at Noon was the place to go. It was about 12:15 when we got there. All the dudes in town rode their motorcycles around the Plaza. White frocked school girls sat reading, talking, playing cards. Guys in 2s or 3s walked around chatting casually with the school girls. This was pretty tame action for 2 big city boys. Further bummed.
We came back to the hotel by way of the coca leaf vendors. He-fuckin’-mongous bags of leaves. 50 gal Glad bags stuffed to the brim. N buys one pound saying “If I can’t smoke dope or get laid, at least I can chew leaves.” A pound of leaves is the size of a medium pumpkin. This costs 33P and with 2p of yipta (like soft charcoal briquettes) makes a real investment in chewing. We came back and munched for a while, then I crashed out, bored.
He went out later to buy something and I told him to look for a TIME for me. He came back later saying the only place that sold TIME was closed ’til 2:30. About 3 I woke back up and went out looking for a mag, anything to read or do. I found N’s place but it was an office. I walked around the square looking at the Movie Adds. Nothing inspiring. Then I walked over to another Plaza and found a likely looking Libreria. Nothing.
I strolled slowly back to the hotel, enjoying the freedom and the sights of the town. In the daytime, except for the Indians, it could be any small town in Europe. Small shops abound, the atmosphere is calm and Colonial. Back at the hotel I sat in the Courtyard and wrote for a while. Then N came out and joined me. I lost the urge to write and came back into the room. N sat at the table and wrote while I crashed again.
I woke up about dinner time. I was hungry but nothing sounded good. I didn’t want the same old cena again. I wanted a Big Mac with a side of fries and a rootbeer. We had seen a burger stand near the park and decided to try it out. We ordered up 2 burgers each. They were like low quality White Castle burgers. Thank god they had mustard. After this we were more hungry than when we’d come in. We decided to walk down the street to the Princessa and try our luck there. The menu printed on the chalk board in the doorway said they had chorizzos, among other things. We ordered up 2 plates and decided to try a bottle of ARCE white, as opposed to last nite’s red. This wine was more average, that is, not as good. The chorizzos were good and spicy with the hot sauce. After this we were satisfied. We both agreed the burgers were a mistake.
We sat in the park watching the people pass by when suddenly I saw a familiar face, Gudrun from Sucre. I said hello but she didn’t hear or see me. So we got up from our benched position and walked the other way around to meet her on the other side. This time she recognized us. She told us a long story about buying a ticket to Yacuiba but having the flight delayed for over a week. Now she was staying with a family, almost broke, can’t cash back in her ticket because the office has no money, and wants to catch a bus back to Sta. Cruz to assure she gets there. She was going out to her “family’s” farm for the weekend so we probably wouldn’t see her ’til Sta Cruz. She seemed friendly enough. We asked her about dope but she didn’t know. We parted, as her friends were anxious to go.
We walked back toward the hotel and noticed
3 obvious Gringo types sitting in a doorway. They greeted us as we
walked up. I sat down with them while N stood and talked. They were
Russ and Benita from
Before we met Gudrun we had heard a band in the Plaza playing John Phillip Sousa. N & I walked over to see what this Festival was tonight. It was a Peña Folklorica. Local bands playing local music. I didn’t want to go listen to bad music and have this to add to my depression. N wanted to go and bought one general admission for 15p. People were queuing up already. After talking to the Gringos we came back to the hotel. N got his sweater and headed back to the stadium. I crashed, only slightly anticipating tomorrow’s trip to the farm.
SAT MAR 31,
Got up about 9 and went to the market to look for John.
1st we had breakfast at our asado place. We looked all through the market. Twice. No John. We headed down to the plaza to see if he might be there. He was. We stood with a friend of his on the corner talking. The friend was “Gringo somebody” but actually a native. He soon left on his moto and we stood on the corner watching the street crew chipping away with pick axes at the pavement. John again invited us out to the farm saying there was a bus at 12:30. He gave us directions and it sounded close enough to walk, so we did.
We came back and got cameras and headed down the road toward San Luis. About 2/3 the way there we recognized Russ from last nite coming the other way in a Jeep. He was going into town to get his boots fixed but would be back soon. He gave us more specific directions to the “Mill” and left. We finished the walk to town and found our turn off that took us past the tile factory. There was a native lady set up with her loom inside the chain link fence. I asked her if I could take her picture. She said something I didn’t understand that amounted to “no”
Further on toward the river we met a small herd of cows coming toward us. After the cows passed we noticed a good looking collie dog following the cows. When he saw us he turned around and lead us back down the hill. We came to the last house and saw some sleeping- bags out drying on a log by the front door. Just as N went to the door a fellow opened it and walked out.
It was Wolf, off to take a shower. He had a little white golfer’s hat, jeans, and a faded green shirt loosely buttoned over his pot belly. We introduced ourselves and told of meeting John. He took a shower in a small waterfall behind the house. We talked to the collie, his, named Sleeper. But as Wolf told us after the shower, people call the dog “Lobito” or little Wolf, which is Wolf’s name, so he retaliates by calling himself Sleeper. He also explained that his name was not Wolfgang (he was German) but Wolfram, the German name for Tungsten. The metal that glows in a bulb, as he described it.
After his shower we came inside and met again Benita, Russ’ girl it seems, and Wayne, a fellow from California. It turns out John doesn’t live at the mill at all. He lives farther down stream with Wayne. Russ, Benita, Wolf and Sleeper live at the mill. We came in with Wolf and he said he’d “invited these boys in for a smoke” Wayne looked up at us and asked “do you have any?” Who, us? But Wolf talked Wayne into rolling a j, Wayne had some but precious little and rolled a tobacco/pot # that was not too good. Then he left. Wolf apologized for the joint. Said they had some but Russ had taken it into town.
Then we got the tour. The place had once been the private mill of a 4000 acre Estancia owned by the family of a former President of Bolivia, who now lived just up the road. He was the Pres. that instituted land reforms that gave land back to the campesinos, thus reducing his own land to only 8 acres. The mill was bought from an aunt for $1,500. Wolf had taken out all the milling equip except for the millstone which was turned upside down and left in the small pit as a coffee table. The fire place was behind. At one end of the house was the kitchen, then the living room, then Wolf’s room, then the entry way - junk room, each occupying 1/4 of the floor space, separated by big adobe pillars of 3’ in dia. Between 2 pillars had been built a sleeping loft. 4 windows had been cut thru the adobe:  opposite the fireplace providing a nice view of the river.
Wolf was German, an architect, born in
He was working on a way to cut a piece of tin to fit into the fire place to stop some of the smoke from coming back out. But 1st we had to go buy some wine. He had 7P and asked us for the rest to get a 20P bottle of vino. We had it so we all walked up the hill to town. When we got to the store he no longer had the 7P so he took our money and bought 1/2 bottle of ginger-ale and 1/2 bottle of traigo. This made a strong brew and we walked back down.
In town he showed us the new water tower built in front of the old water pump. He said they’d built the new tower to provide water to all the houses but they forgot to think that the new people didn’t have plumbing. During construction they shut off the pump. Then they realized they couldn’t hook up water to any body in the 1st place so they stopped building the tower. Now there is no water. Not even the old hand pump. We sipped and talked on the way back down the hill.
N & Wolf played backgammon and I read in the Domebook II. Alcohol really sets Wolf going. He got fat from too much booze, he said. He got into a long talk about philosophy. His is this: “Don’t make the mistake of thinking you have to answer to somebody” We sat around being alternately disconcerted and entertained by Wolf’s antics.
It began to wear into the late afternoon. John had said he’d be back by 1 or 2. We waited ’til 4 and then decided to head back. Wolf walked with us up the hill. At the top Russ was just arriving by collectivo. During the walk Wolf had evidently allayed most of his 1st suspicions about our reason for coming to the mill and offered to try and buy us some pot for 500P/oz. Expensive but we decided to take him up on it. We didn’t have that much cash, we told him. Would the dealer take a US $20 and a 100P note? He thought so. We were to come back tomorrow morn and he’d arrange the deal.
We met Russ and Wolf ordered up another traigo mixture, this time with Tia Cola.  Then a big highway crew dump truck pulled over and stopped. The crew were friends with Wolf. He climbed into the cab and started fooling with the truck. We took this chance and said good by and started walking down the road. About 2k down the road the dump truck came up behind us. They stopped and took us into town. We rode in style in the dumper of a big yellow dump truck. No charge.
Back at the hotel we dropped off our gear and went back to the Princessa. I had sausages again and N ordered Lomo. The TV was going and during our meal we watched Mr Magoo cartoons and an educational film about basic hydraulic theory. No wine tonite, we drank enough cheap traigo. Back at the hotel we wrote for a while and then retired.
SUN APR 1.
Happy April Fool’s Day.
I got up early anticipating the score. N. told me to go back to sleep, it was too early to go out there. A first! He’s always on my case for being a late sleeper. So I went back to sleep, but he couldn’t, so we got up anyway. He went out to check on bus times to San Luis. There were no busses on Sunday. We ate an asado breakfast and started walking.
We had thought to take a taxi out there, but the fare was 25P so we walked instead. As N was taking off his shirt his cigs dropped out. He had to go back and get them. Then his shirt itself got dropped. He had dropsy today. We got to the mill about 10:30. It was a beautiful clear day. Russ and Benita were there but they said Wolf was up in town, hadn’t we seen him? Hadn’t seen him. So, after Russ dragged himself out of bed to host us Gringos, he and N began in earnest to play Backgammon.
Wolf returned after a while, having stayed in town to have a drink with some friend that had come in from town. He was wired as usual and took over the Backgammon game with N. I asked him about the score. He said somebody would have to go back to Tarija. But not to worry, because the friend he drank with in San Luis was going down to visit Wayne who would then come by. How this got us any closer to Tarija or scoring I didn’t see, but sure enough about 45 min later Wayne & friend showed up. Wayne was going to go to town to do the business. N gave him 500 + 20 for cab fare back. I don’t know how he was going to get there. Then Wayne and friend left.
N & Wolf went back to the game and I read Dome book. Wolf talked about taking out 1 of the main pillars and putting in a Steinway. At 1st I thought he said “stairway” but got confused when he started talking about acoustics. N & Wolf began to use the doubling cube but instead of betting money, they bet hits. By the end of the marathon N had won 32 hits and Wolf 64. He was very excited over this win. Then he and N went out to get drinking water and alcohol. Wolf saying “It’s time for me to go have a little drink”
I sat in the window reading. Russ & Benita were busy making and eating breakfast. Benita started baking some crackers. When she was finished she offered me some with tea. Very good. Then N & Wolf got back. They had crackers & tea too.
Wolf began talking about fire wood. There was a big tree trunk hanging out over the river that Wolf had chopped a big branch off of. Now that there were 4 guys, he said, we should pull it up and chop it into usable pieces. Russ got his hammock ropes and tied them together. N. climbed up the tree and put the rope around the branch. Wolf, R, & I pulled and dragged the thing up into the yard. Wolf went in and got the ax. But N did most of the chopping. The chopping done, Wolf insisted that we take a shower in the little falls behind the house. We were glad to do so. The water was cold and refreshing. We stood in the sun to dry. 
Back inside we continued waiting for Wayne who’d been gone a good 4 hours.  Wayne finally did show up with the goods. Wolf grabbed it out of Wayne’s hands and put it on a British Postage Scale to see if we’d gotten a “weighed oz.”. No, it was a little light. Wolf began to tear the excess paper off, like a little kid with a new toy. I grabbed the goods before they got spilled all over. I didn’t care how much it weighed, I just wanted to find out how heavy it was. We gave it the pipe test. It was good, and all clean. Wolf sucked down gigantic hits, puffing until a cloud of smoke formed around his head and then inhaling with a loud surshing sound. He had a metal maté straw that he used for a pipe.
N picked away at Benita’s guitar while Wolf entertained us with two big metal wagon wheel rims. He rolled them back and forth. Then he got out a can of varnish & started at one with a paint brush. When he was finished he balanced one in the window and the 2nd on the 1st.
Wolf went up to the loft to talk with Russ. N & Wayne traded turns on the guitar. From the loft, Wolf handed down a very little chair. He wanted pot. We rolled up a little in some paper and put it on the chair. He pulled it up to the loft. Wayne leaned over to me and in a low voice said “He never stops, man.” I nodded my head in understanding. Wolf was a true character. Big drinker, big smoker, big talker. He sang little songs and seemed to need to be the center of attention.
Wayne decided to leave, get his guitar, and come back. I went out and took some pix of the river. Then came back in and took some pix around the mill, most notably a basket of bread backlit with a C’alla Streamer next to it. Wayne and John returned a little later. Wolf was very glad to see John. The 3 of us, Wolf, J & I took a walk down by the river. Wolf took some photos with the wide angle. I took a pic of him standing on the “Mound of Venus”.
After the sunset we came back inside. I wanted to get back to town, Wolf was getting on my nerves, always talking and demanding pot. When I told him I wanted to leave, his manner changed. He became quieter, more sincere, softer somehow. He came up to me and almost begged me not to leave, they were planning on us staying for dinner. I consented to stay and he resumed his boisterous manner. Once inside N & Wayne were busy playing guitar. I saw Wolf go up to Russ and ask him if they were making enough food for all of us. I guess they were. As N & W were playing, I heard Benita say to Russ “What a nice change” referring to life with Wolf, I presume.
Wolf had strung up his hammock with “one knot” he was proud to say. He told of sleeping in a hammock for 2 mos or something while suffering from some rare tropical disease. That one had also been put up with “just one knot” N and W continued playing, everybody was smoking. Dinner was cooking and everybody was in a good mood. Suddenly there was a loud snap and Wolf was on the floor. His hammock string had come off the nail and gravity had promptly deposited him on the floor. He got up dazed and rubbing his head. “That’s what happens with just one knot” I said. He was all right but later in the eve. made me feel his elbow, it was swollen to the size of a baseball. This drop seemed to stifle his energy at least for a while.
He and N talked about the hike to the rock carvings tomorrow. Wolf said he’d meet us at the Puente at 8AM. “Since we have to cross the Puente to get there, that’s the best place to meet. I’m lazy and don’t want to go anywhere out of my way” Wolf said, referring to N’s suggestion that he come to our hotel 1st. Thus arranged and settled, we went in to eat. The veggie glop was good. Grapes on the side. N. didn’t eat much as he’d been chewing Coca all day. Wolf, who’d done none of the cooking work, reacted as tho he was the only one eating. N & I felt as tho we were putting the folks out by eating their food, but Wolf was putting them off by his attitude far more than N & I.
After dinner we decided to pack it up and out. N was feeling OD’d and I wasn’t far behind. We put our things together and headed out the door. Wolf, Wayne & John would walk us up the hill. Off we went into the darkness, stumbling our stoned way over the stones. At the top of the hill, Wolf decided to buy some beers at the little store. When the beers came he says “Let’s go around back, we can’t drink beers here on the corner” So we go around the side and Wolf knocks. The door opens and we are invited into what looks like the family dining room. I wanted to just take off, but Wolf insisted that we come in. We met the “regulars” at the bar and drank a beer amidst the usual questions.
After the beer we begged our leave, using darkness as an excuse. Just as were leaving, a lady, the only lady, entered, Wolf said to me “You should stay, she’s a loose woman. She has 6 kids but she’s still a loose woman.” She looked like your average 35 yr old chola to me. “No thanks Wolf” N and I got out and started walking toward town, the crescent moon popping out from behind the clouds. We were picked up by a taxi about 1/3 of the way back. He dropped us off near the market. We walked back to the hotel and surveyed our good fortune.
Thurs 12 APRIL,
At this point I have fallen more than a week behind in my notes. I will try to make up time by going thru the last few days very quickly. Some details will be lost.
Something is better than nothing.
MON APRIL 2,
We got up early to meet Wolf at the bridge.
We waited for almost 45 min but he didn’t show. We walked by the river and toked. Took some photos on the way back to the hotel. Decided to go out toward Rincon de la Victoria. Walked and hitched to a little town. Walked up the road and talked to a man plowing his field with an oxen and a hand plow. Took photos. He told us the road to the Rincon lead out from the town we had just passed thru. We walked back to town and took the side road toward the Rincon.
We had to cross a stream. We took off our shoes & sox, rolled up our pants, and trudged across on the none too soft rocks. Once across, we noticed a fellow on the other side preparing to drive his 4 wheel drive jeep across the same stream. Before we had time to put our boots back on the guy had crossed and picked us up. We squeezed into the back along with a chola and her "backpack". The guy driving told us he’d take us to the Rincon.
We drove about 7k down a one lane gravel road/stream bed. Other passengers in the Jeep got out along the way. The driver took us to his house and invited us to a Scotch. After a couple he ordered up dinner for us all and we set out to a little village down by a river. There we sat and drank beer with a local worker. Back at the house we were served fried eggs and bacon, 2 different cold vegetable salads, one of peas & one of french cut green beans. Along with another scotch. We were ready to go to the Rincon.
The guy drove us to a large river 5k down the line from his house. We had to cross the stream barefoot again. We walked up the road and saw some really good natural mountain scenery. We walked up the road for over an hour, photoing and cruising. We finally reached a point that looked across the stream to a spectacular outcropping of rocks on the cliff face across the river. "This must be the place." I said. We photo’d and walked back to the car. Our driver was asleep in the front seat.
He drove us to his house in Tarija. There we met his hairless dog and, over tea, his bathrobed mother. He invited us to stay at his house and he would take us around to some other places nearby. We considered his offer. Told him we’d call him tomorrow if we could get our tickets changed. He drove us to our hotel.
We sat down to play a couple games of chess. Wolf showed up and, in his own way, apologized for not being at the bridge. He couldn’t have gone anyway, he said, flapping the sole on his shoe. He wanted some pot. "Not here" N says. So we went out to dinner. Wolf took us to a good little restaurant. N & I ordered some kind of steak and wine, Wolf had chuflys.
We toked down by the river. Wolf still demanded some pot for his friends. N told him there was no more to give. We left him under the street light in the middle of an intersection. Wolf says “Give me pot, man” We walked back to the hotel.
TUES APR 3,
We decided to take the plane anyway, despite the friendly offer of the fellow yesterday.
In packing our packs N noticed his address book missing. We turned the room upside down looking for it. It was not to be found. N was bummed out! He must have lost it on the way back from Wolf’s. Once the shock wore off we finished packing and taxied off to the airport.
It was a nice day and the planes were flying. We were the 1st passengers at the ’port. We had a cola, checked our bags, and photo’d the “propeller virgin” The Fairchild sat on the tarmac. Marcello wasn’t the captain. The flight was short (55min) and rather bumpy. The plane had to circle the valley a couple times to gain altitude.
In Sucre we walked out to the road & toked. We reflected on our time in Sucre and the contrast of this short “jet set” visit. Met the tall  fellow, globe trotting petroleum engineer. The jet came and sat on the runway like some kind of space ship. A brand new 727, everything sparkled. When you’re used to seeing old ’54 Ford pickups as the main mode of transport, a new Boeing Jet looks like something out of Buck Rogers.
The jet teleported us to Cochabamba. There we got a taxi and rode to Photo Broadway, got the keys and came to Tia Marta’s once again. We met Tia and Carlos at the KiVon  ice cream stand. We went around the corner to a rest. on the Plaza and had dinner. I had a sort of fried ham & cheese relleno called “Milenesa al Horno con Hongos”, sin Hongos.
Back at the house we retired to toot and read letters from home. Got one from Myrt. Nothing from Hector. The jeans are here at the P.O. Almost like home.
 We read our info about Tarija. Lots of Natural Wonders near.
 Russ hadn’t taken do to town but had hid it in the house. We declined the entanglements involved in going back down to try it.
 I noticed many ticks on Sleeper and pointed them out to Wolf. He pulled out a few but seemed none to concerned at the large number.
 Wolf talked about Carl Walenda, in his last tightrope walk. His daughter said “Don’t do it, Daddy” His last words were “It’s the wind, it’s the wind.”
Chapter 33::Table of Contents::Chapter 35