There’s torrential rain, Joey is barking very loudly and I am eating a baked potato with Rose Harissa Paste. This is London.
It is Thursday the 22nd May and I have been back since Saturday morning and I am now back on London hours. So far I have been to my lovely friend Beth’s beautiful baby’s christening and met up with friends.
What strikes me most about my relationship to Bolivia is that it has changed so much since my trip there. It is not only that I know my Bolivian family that much more but that I understand the Bolivian culture a lot more too. I know for instance the struggles they face and their dreams of their children studying abroad but more fundamentally what they think of the world outside Bolivia.
I was able to achieve quite a bit while in South America; I wrote 16 poems, that I am happy with so far, learnt how to cook some Bolivian food and got to see Samaipata, Tiahuanaco, Las Yungas and the Salt Plains. So all in all it was a successful trip and changed many aspects of myself, and my life.
I also learnt a great deal about what happened the day I fell 6/7 storeys (depending on how you count) from my aunt Nelly’s apartment and met one of the men who caught me in a blanket. I always imagined that I had fallen out of the living room window, but it turns out I had opened my bedroom window and hung out of its frame clinging on till I fell. I fell standing up. The porters who caught me never let me hit the ground. “It was my job” he tells me as I thank him repeatedly.
After, and maybe because of my fall, he married my nanny who had been grocery shopping and had left me with my gran. I like to think my fall brought them together, but they were dating already when it happened so who knows.
Here is a picture of me with him.
This is a giraffe. The giraffes in La Paz are rehabilitated drug users who help people cross the roads safely.
Before I went to the Salt Plains in Bolivia a part of me thought it would just be a whole bunch of sand and that it wouldn’t be worth it the daylong journey to get there.
I was wrong. It was so beautiful I don’t know how I could ever describe it, so here are some pictures.
I am so so happy in Bolivia.
Some Bolivian masks at a museum I visited in La Paz.
And a poem I wrote whilst there:
Daydreaming in La Paz
after Insomnia by Elizabeth Bishop
La Paz and my strange dreams
take a turn and become real.
Along the back of my tia’s apple tree
a wild rabbit.
I chase it, to find that I
am everywhere I’ve ever called home;
I am in East Dulwich buying a dress
on Lordship Lane, in Edinburgh,
in Texas writing love poems to a boy in my class
who doesn’t know I like him.
But I am also here in La Paz trying to breathe
through petrol fumes, waiting
as my cousin Patty fills her tank.
The rabbit knows this and chases me into its hole.
Walking is done like driving, in reverse here;
left equals right and right, left.
In this inverted, screwed up world
I try so hard to make real
it is you who loves me
and me who ignores your calls.
At home, Big Ben strikes midnight,
and you disappear just as you appeared.
Lastly a huge MEGA thank you to the Saltire Society and British Council Scotland as well as the lovely Robert Alan Jaimeson!