NEWSFLASH: Death toll rises in Peru floods
UPDATE: Floods prompt Bolivia emergency
BREAKING NEWS: Trevor Wakes to Find Sun Shining, Again
Have perspective. Think of the big picture. Live the present. A few days ago I repeated these phrases to myself, like a trauma victim, while watching the waves lick the Chilean shore and retreat in hypnotic grace, not because a Peruvian mudslide buried my brother, Bolivian floods killed my flock, my Haitian home is in shambles, my Mexican friend was killed by drug traffickers, a suicide bomber blasted my Bagdad neighborhood, Nigerian rebels encroach on my city, or the ever-retracting economy threatens all hope for corporate advancement. None of the above.
I was bored.
After all the adventures involved with hitchhiking Chile’s landing strip geography, the never-before seen landscapes in the Earth’s driest desert, the many on-the-road conversations with my friend Cameron, and the inherent rightness one feels upon sharing a moment in time with other travelers who live similar philosophies, the lazy beach lifestyle now seems a bit slow.
NEXT COMES PERU
There is plenty to do here in Iquique, body boarding, hang gliding, boat tours, clubs, etc., but my mind is married to other ideas—mainly my bike trip. Unfortunately, I’m unable to return to Peru and pedal onward until the heavy rains that pound Cusco & the surrounding areas taper off into light sprinkles around early March. Since the famous Machu Picchu ruins will be closed for at least another month while the washed-away roads are rebuilt, I’m not exactly inspired to hitch into grey weather just to watch the clouds.
Mid-February I hope to arrive to Cusco, organize my bike gear, then pedal toward the Bolivian border, waiting out the afternoon downpours in random farmhouses and corner stores. Supposedly my new rain jacket is completely waterproof motorcycling 60 mph through a storm. I’ll keep you updated.
THEN COMES BOLIVIA
To make matters worse, the Bolivian government recently declared a national emergency after heavy rains flooded the country’s capital and affected an estimated 22,000 people nationwide. Bolivia has around 27,000 miles of highways, but only an estimated 1,500 miles are paved. When I began this bike tour I was most looking forward to the remote, largely uninhabited Bolivian altiplano whose wide-open terrain seems like that of another planet. These farthest imaginations of the mind can only be reached using Bolivia’s numerous dirt roads. Though I’ve heard the main paved roads are immaculately well-maintained, my off-road explorations would be limited until the rainy season’s end in March. Bob & Surly, macho as they are, don’t do mud.
CAPTION: Slideshow of Bolivia’s most extreme road.
Of course, I could return to Peru, greet Bob & Surly with a man hug, then watch DVDs for days on end with the volume turned up to drown out the heavy rain drops on the tin rooftop, twiddling my thumbs in an undefeated hope that Machu Picchu will reopen ahead of schedule, but my inner travel voice tells me there is a better option….
It may surprise you that despite quitting my job to vagabond South America by bike, I constantly need new projects to feel like I’m realizing my potential. I’d never make a good drunk, junkie, or librarian.
Portuguese has filled the void. Ever since that beach mantra day I’ve been using a combination of Pimsleur audio language lessons, Podcasts, flashcards, my 501 Portuguese Verbs book, Brazilian novels, downloaded Brazilian movies, and samba music with printed-out lyrics to kill the boredom. This intense language immersion will continue until my real Brazilian immersion begins in April.
In the evening I relax with downloaded WYNC Radio Lab audio programs, the orange Pacific sunset on the horizon, and my very American work ethic that feels satisfied with a hard day’s work…on the beach.
Then I jog along the coast, stretch.
Then I cook elaborate pasta dinners in the hostal kitchen.
Then I fall asleep with samba in my ear buds.
Chilean summer boredom does not easily die.
Some friends from Santiago arrive Wednesday. Then I’ll take my social life out of the closet and hit the dance floor.
All in all, I’ve come to recognize with a quick flip through the latest headlines that my life is pretty good, even though I’ve been forced to wait out what Chileans call the “Bolivian Winter” without the company of my friends Bob & Surly.