Day Nine: Bolivia

We have now arrived safely in Bolivia but it was an adventure to get here that is for sure. We left Ju-Juy in the morning and took a bus to the border where we crossed over into Bolivia without any problems. In fact it always amazes me how little they check at the borders here. Certainly not like home. Entering Bolivia the difference is pretty immediate. I am much, much more aware of the poverty here and much, much more aware of the indigenous culture. I guess that is like home and perhaps the rest of the world where it always seems to be the indigenous culture suffering most.

It is hard to know exactly how to respond. Before I came I was listening to the CD of Robyn Hemmes who spoke at the TEAR conference a couple of years ago. I have listened to it before but I wanted to engage with some of the stuff that she talks about before I came. In one of her talks she describes our tendency to look away when we come in contact with the poor. To ignore them and pretend they don´t exist. I was challenged on this trip not to do that but it sure is hard. On almost every street there is someone selling something or asking for money and when I look it seems to give them the impression I am going to buy something and they just keep at me until I look away. I can´t buy from everyone, I can´t give to everyone that asks and I am not sure that, that exchange empowers either of us so how do I have exchanges that empower people and make them feel valuable and lovable?

There have been some moments though which have felt good. I hope the other person would say the same. We decided to catch the train from the border to Oruro where we are now (about three hours from La Paz) in popular (third class). It was a fifteen hour trip over night and it may have been the most uncomfortable and cold night of my life but I would do it again for the exchanges we had with people. The guy who sat opposite us was named Andres. He talked with us a lot of the trip about Bolivia, the political, economic and social situstion and it was fascinating to hear it from him. In the middle of the night when it was so cold I had gone numb he put the only blanket he had over me and Martin so we could share it with him. It was very moving. There was also a woman who sat in the aisle across from us. She was dressed traditionally and I smiled at her and she smiled back. We didn´t say a word to each other but continued to smile through out the trip. Martin and I bought a bag of mandarines which we shared around and people took gratefully. I was worried people would look at me the whole way and wonder what the hell I was doing there but they didn´t seem to.

When we arrived we took a taxi to the hearest hotle and had a hot shower and a rest in a comfy bed. It was amzing and I was very grateful but I guess the others won´t be doing that.

Day Seven: Ju-Juy

We are still in Ju-Juy. It has been nice to spend more than one night somewhere. It´s been a pretty tranquil day. We got up late, wandered around the town for a couple of hours, ate and then came back to the hotel for more thermal baths and relaxing watching the view.

It may be one of my favourite days so far. I mean we didn´t do or see anything particularly exoctic or exciting but I just enjoyed wandering the town and the markets and watching people and how they live. It´s the ordinariness of it all or something that I like. No photos though. I was having dilemas about it as I would have liked to have got some but I just didn´t feel it was appropriate, not to mention kind of embarassing getting out the camera in some of the places that we were.

Martin and I desiced to make a list of ten things that we were grateful to God for. We got past ten but here are ten:

Times to relax
Hot water
Different Cultures

Day Six: Ju-Juy

I think that is the spelling but I am not sure. Anyway we are in a town in the very north of Argentina. This will be our last stop before we head to Bolivia but before that where have we been since I last wrote.

So we visited the Iguazu falls. They were absolutely incredible. Really undescribable so I won´t bother. Lots of photos but as usual of things of a grand nature they don´t really capture it. We were going to spend the night at the Sheraton for my birthday but we decided not to. It was a bit grose, totally overpriced and and we were finished at about 3pm (we have been getting started so early) so we thought that we should move on. I am keen to have plenty of time in Peru.

So we moved on to San Ignacio. We got there at like 11pm at night and it was absolutely freezing and we had to wonder around town looking for a place to stay. Thankfully we did without too much trouble but it was a little unnerving. The next morning we spent checking out the Jesuit missions which were pretty cool and very old (they were built in 1620) in temperature of about 0.

We then hopped on another bus for about 20 hours until we arrived here in Ju-Juy. Ju-Juy has been great for the couple of hours that we´ve been here. I had not heard anything about before and was expecting to pass though pretty quickly but I have changed my mind. I think when you are not expecting anything and then it turns out to be great you appreciate it even more.

So we have checked ourselves into a nice hotel hidden in some mountains and are really enjoying not been in a bus. We have done some exercise and had ourselves a themal bath in the water from the mountains and are now sitting watching the sun go down over the hills. Tonight we will celebrate my birthday with some wine and a nice meal so I better go but will hopefully write soon.

Day Three: Puerto Iguazu

We have now left Buenos Aires and are in Iguazu. Buenos Aires is a pretty cool city but I am glad to have left. By the end I was finding the crowds and the pollution pretty taxing. We spent yesterday doing a whole bunch of touristy things as you do. We visited a pretty amazing cememtry where some presidents and generals and whole bunch of important people were buried, probably the most note worthy was of Eva Peron (the person who the movie Evita is about). Her grave still has the most visitors to it and was overflowing with flowers. We also went to La Boca and visited the stadium and the museum there. For those who don´t know Boca Juniors was Maradonna first team and probably the most popular soccer team here. Martin was in heaven and I found it pretty interesting too. What I found most interesting though was that these two places are the opposite side of town (I have an interesting story of trying to negotiate the bus system), one rich with lots of beautiful parks and statues and the other one very poor. The contrast was startling I have to say and of course quite sad. At the same time Boca is a city of passion (you can feel it) and of community, people gathered around fires together under the bridges whereas on the other side of town people walk along in their trendy clothes and on their phones and try not to look at you. We also visited the big cathedrals and parliament house. It is pink so people called it the pink house. That made me laugh. In one of the catherdrals was the tomb of Jose de San Martin. Again for those who don´t know he is considered the liberator of Argentina, Chile and Peru so we were moved to be there especially Martin of course.

In the evening we took an overnight bus to Iguazu which we arrived at, at about 2.30. It a gorgeous little town, has an alomosty coastal feel. It is nice and warm which I am enjoying so we had a pleasnt afternoon sitting in an outdoor cafe, Argentina style eating and drinking beers. After a nap we (I am still struggling with the time differnces) we have come out and are off to try and find somewhere we can dance and then tommorrow we´ll be off to the waterfalls. I´ll let you know soon.

I am sorry that there are no photos. I can´t seem to work out how to do it and the internet here is so slow that it drives me mad trying.

Day One: Buenos Aires

After a very long flight we have made it to Buenos Aires. I was very keen to get off the plane by the end of it but it was a pretty good flight. Was feeling a bit emotional after farewelling my mum in Sydney so it was good to have some time to process it. I was very happy that we had the IPOD so I could listen to some soothing music. Birds eye view of some snow capped mountains was a bit of bonus too. And for Tom and anyone else who is interested I watched one film called Farmer Astronaut. It was not great but it was not offensive or difficult either so that is good.

Anyway I am very tired right now as I did not really sleep at all. It is 7.30pm and I am going to bed but I just wanted to let everyone know that we landed safely despite a few almost anxiety attacks from Martin. I was fine on the plane but I nearly had one too with the taxi driver who nearly killed us coming inot town. I had forgotton how crazy it is driving on South American Roads. I am happy to be here though. We haven´t done much, wandered around town, ate dinner, watched some buskers doing a tango show but I feel very at home on this continent.

Only three more days and I will be on a plane flying to South America. How much I am looking forward to the stillness of sitting on a plane and doing absolutely nothing except reading, listening to music or watching a movie. And the bigger bonus is that no one will expect anything of me.


Life at the moment feels a little out of control. Everything is so busy I can hardly think. I was swimming along a few weeks ago and the water was calm but then this massive wave totally knocked me around and since then each time I have managed to come up for breath there’s another wave (thankfully not as big) but it forces me to go under again.

Then today, in the midst of all this I read Jo’s blog who linked to this site. An author (Yann Martel who wrote life of Pi) has decided to send a book to the prime minister of Canada every week. He says:

“No doubt he is busy. No doubt he is deluded by that busyness. No doubt being Prime Minister fills his entire consideration and froths his sense of busied importance to the very brim. And no doubt he sounds and governs like one who cares little for the arts. But he must have moments of stillness. And so this is what I propose to do: not to educate—that would be arrogant, less than that—to make suggestions to his stillness. For as long as Stephen Harper is Prime Minister of Canada, I vow to send him every two weeks, mailed on a Monday, a book that has been known to expand stillness.

I loved reading all the letters he sent to the prime minister and I am inspired to read all the books he sends but more importantly I am inspired to be still. In one letter he writes:

I know you’re very busy, Mr. Harper. We’re all busy. Meditating monks in their cells are busy. That’s adult life, filled to the ceiling with things that need doing. (It seems only children and the elderly aren’t plagued by lack of time—and notice how they enjoy their books, how their lives fill their eyes.) But every person has a space next to where they sleep, whether a patch of pavement or a fine bedside table. In that space, at night, a book can glow. And in those moments of docile wakefulness, when we begin to let go of the day, then is the perfect time to pick up a book and be someone else, somewhere else, for a few minutes, a few pages, before we fall asleep. And there are other possibilities, too. Sherwood Anderson, the American writer best known for his collection of stories Winesburg, Ohio, wrote his first stories while commuting by train to work. Stephen King apparently never goes to his beloved baseball games without a book that he reads during breaks. So it’s a question of choice.

And it is a question of choice so I am choosing to be less busy. Because again and I am sorry for all the quotes he says:

On March 28th, 2007, at 3 pm, I was sitting in the Visitors’ Gallery of the House of Commons, I and forty-nine other artists from across Canada, fifty in all, and I got to thinking about stillness. To read a book, one must be still. To watch a concert, a play, a movie, to look at a painting, one must be still. Religion, too, makes use of stillness, notably with prayer and meditation. Just gazing upon a still lake, upon a quiet winter scene—doesn’t that lull us into contemplation? Life, it seems, favours moments of stillness to appear on the edges of our perception and whisper to us, “Here I am. What do you think?” Then we become busy and the stillness vanishes, yet we hardly notice because we fall so easily for the delusion of busyness, whereby what keeps us busy must be important, and the busier we are with it, the more important it must be. And so we work, work, work, rush, rush, rush. On occasion we say to ourselves, panting, “Gosh, life is racing by.” But that’s not it at all, it’s the contrary: life is still. It is we who are racing by.