on the road to Potosi

2 Aug

i love the feeling of sitting on the bus.  the freedom, the excitement of the unknown, the problem free experience knowing that you’ve left all of your problems behind you….i leaned back and stared outside of the window.

i was heading to potosi, the highest city in the world, and the secret to the power the spanish crow enjoyed unchallenged for hundreds of years.

a man arrived at the head of the bus to deliver a speach.  i thought he was the driver, but then the bus started to move. i couldn’t undestand what he was saying and decided he might’ve been a tour guide of sorts.  he was asking lots of questions and i heard the names of several different cities.  i changed my mind and decided he was a paid government agent to spread propaganda throughout our trip.

i didn’t mind though because I was in the middle of a very good book and tunded him out quickly.  but when i looked up from my book a little while later, i had the distinct impression that the bus was making circles, waiting for the man in the brown cotoroid jacket in the front of the bus to finish his speech.  my suspicions were confirmed when he whipped out a few packetsand passed them around the bus.  i wasn’t sure what he was selling, but it was something between toe warmers, lip gloss, and spices.  i wasn’t sure which.

meanwhile, what had started out as an empty bus gradually became packed to the brim as the driver stopped along the road to pick up more and more passengers.  at first i employed a strategy taken from my days riding the express bus back home, that of covering the empty seat next to me in hopes of enjoying a roomy ride alone.  but when i saw a woman take a seat on the floor, i motioned for her to join me. she was poor and ragged and when it came time to pay, she barely had enough coins in her handwoven pocket to cover the trip.

the trip took us through beautiful windy roads through one of the most expansive mountain ranges I have ever been through, which carried a dramatic beauty unmatched by beaches and oceans.  like elephants frozen in time, giants that can awaken at any moment, the mountains we passed completly warmped my sense of scale.

occasionally the bus would stop in the middle of no where to let off a passenger or two.  i had no idea where they were going.  the mountains seemed to have scared off most of civilzation, even though I did spot a pack of wild dogs off in the distance.

a tattered skirt on the bottom of the mountains prevented them from going any further and left an immense valley at its feet.  i wondered if it once was  a river.  every now and then we passed houses in the valley and once, when I looked up from my book, I witnessed a regal castle, something literally out of a storybook tale.  I have absolutly no idea what it was used for, or whether it was used at all.

About halfway through the bus stopped along side of the road where a handful of women, with tents pitched to protect them from the sun offered up sandwhiches and soft drinks.  that was their life, to support their families by selling some good to passerbyers, probably never to see them again.  they seemed dirty, and tired, and it seemed cruel how some people were destined for offices and bmws and others would be born to sell cookies on the side of a thruway.  To so save money on costs, the drinks came served in tightly wrapped plastic bags which incfused the soda with hints of plastic and tasted a bit like condoms.

The bus roared on, the driver seemingly in a hurry to make up lost time from carving circles while the salesman in Sucre made his pitch, and the neverending mountains continued to amaze.

as we approached potosi with grand views from above, one mountain quickly made itself felt.  with a glow unlike any of the others, with hints of orange and even yellow, i gussed right away that this must be the mountain thats made and broken dreams, and that the mysticism, the gases, and the minerals must have changed its color to be unlike all of the others.

i had arrived to the cerro rico, i had arrived to potosi.


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