Obama is not my boss…

After hopping a 2 hour bus to the border (about 2 or more days by bike), we got to the border crossing between La Quiaca, Argentina and Villazon, Bolivia.  It was a rude awakening.  Villazon is desolate, and feels like any border crossing.  I might as well have been in Tijuana.  Smog, lines of people trying to cross to Argentina, the occasional Bolivia border crosser, dead dogs, money changing shops and traditional Andean crafts strewn about cheap electronics and other goods brought from Argentina illegally.  The French and Swiss travelers cross with ease, paying nothing.  Americans, Gringos, if you will, are slammed with a 135$ (american) fee.  For me this included  the task of finding a way to withdrawl more money to help my friends accross which subsequently cost me my ATM card.  The border agents were extremely rude to us, and extremely unprofessional.  Standing under posters of President Evo Morales, they cracked jokes at us, called us Yankees, tried to ripped us off by creating their own exchane rates, and went as far as to say ¨Hey look, its your boss¨when Obama came on the T.V. behind them.

So when you enter a country like Boliva, where the informal market employs the majority of an Indigenous population, tread softly.  You will learn that you are represented by your government, and if more Americans tried to roll a bike over the border of Bolivia, you might see where you come from in a different light.  A great place, that causes lots of problems.   And remember when you are greeted with a smile at the hotel in Rio or Santiago, or Buenos Aires, you are in a way paying for it.  And if you can think critically enough, you will represent yourself when you travel…let me be clear (to quote the man himself), Obama is not your fucking boss.

Anyway.

After a 6 hour unpleasent experience trying to get everyone over the border safely, we smashed on our bikes up a long hill, paid our respects to Simon Boliviar (a Latin American revolutionary/hero) with a nod  in the central plaza, and got on a bus to Tupiza where we were greeted at the bus station by curious locals who were more than helpful in getting us to our Hostel.

The town of Tupiza was the final transition into the indigenous heartland (though we will go deeper).  Matte, nonexsitent.  Coca is everywhere.  Recently legalized, courtesy of their first Indigenous president Evo Morales, Bolivia enjoys it as a cultural tradition and is no longer under the jurisdiction of the D.E.A.´s bloody drug war that has spiraled Mexico and other Latin American countires into an endless cycle of violence.  No one here is being decapitated because of it, no one is having their face stitched to a soccer ball, and there are no coke-crazed 16 year olds emptying their parents bank accounts to get it.  It was a strange experience purchasing the leaf for the equivalenet of 1$ U.S. from a little old woman on a street corner.

The woman selling coca on the street symbolizes something special about Bolivia that I have observed over the last few days.  There is a certain matriarchical essence to Bolivia.  In other Latin American countries, men hiss at women on the streets.  In the U.S., we are certainly guilty of our own shovenistic tendencies, your boy included.  But here, when you go to a market place, you will find mostly women and children working very hard to provide for their family.  And the hissing, at least up until this point, has ceased.  I do not know enough to speak of women´s struggles in this country, but I have observed a certain type of respect for women that is not always present in western culture.

Back to real time…

As for Haji riding bikes, Bolivia is a difficult terrain to conquer (and i mean this in the bike sense not in the conquistador sense).  We will have to hybridize between bike and bus for the next few weeks if we are to make it to Peru.  The roads are rough, often unpaved, and riding a bus here is like being on the Indianna Jones ride for hours at a time, and I hate that fucking ride (so you could only imagine riding a bike on Space Mountain and the Matterhorn as well).  Also, potable water is sparse, and towns are spread out.  I am generally excited to get a tan, but I am slowly turning into leather.  Expect to find pics of us cramming our bikes onto busses over the next couple weeks…we are humbly declining the challenge of pushing through every inch of this piercing climate.  Don´t hate…

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One Response to “Obama is not my boss…”

  1. Chevy Chase Says:

    Its good in america, brother.

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