Saved By A Twelve-Year-Old

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This blog entry about the events of Monday, January 05, 2004 was originally posted on January 06, 2004.

DAY 79:  I was awake by 6 a.m. feeling a little bit better from my illness.  I ate a mango for the extra vitamins and gathered all my belongings.  As always, I was amazed when I looked around the room to see if I forgot anything, only to realize that everything I would need to get by on a round-the-world trip fit conveniently in two bags.

My bus picked me up right at my hostel and continued to pick up more passengers around town, including the Danish family from the Lake Titicaca island trip who sat up front.  I was assigned a window seat next to Eugeu, a 70-year-old Swissman from Basel.  He spoke German mostly and wasn’t much of a conversationalist with me.

The bus cruised on the road that hugged the southern bank of Lake Titicaca, en route to Bolivia, passing through little lake towns.  We stopped in one of these lake towns for a bathroom and money exchange break.  Vendors sold warm empanadas out of baskets on the sidewalk. 

“You should get one of these, they come with chicken and cheese,” Sarah, the 12-year-old Danish girl said to me.  “They’re good and warm.”  I took her advice and paid the one sole, and found it just as she said, “good and warm.”

Soon after, the bus took us to the border crossing, which was a much more formal and easier affair than my border crossing from Ecuador into Peru.  I simply lined up on the Peruvian exit line, walked with the Danish family across the border (and one hour into the future with the time zone change) to the Bolivian entrance line.  No one even read our documents and simply just stamped our forms and passports with a 30-day tourist visa.

“Oh, they let you in too?  An American?” Ivan joked.  “You didn’t check off that you were a terrorist then.”

“No, I checked ‘no’ to all of those,” I said.  (The questionnaire on the Bolivian immigration form blatantly asked “[Are you a terrorist or involved in terrorist activities? __ YES __ NO]”)


(AT THE COPA,) COPACABANA, the first major lake shore town on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca, was where we stopped off for a lunch break.  Copacabana was recommended to me by many travelers as the place to see the lake, and I immediately saw why — it was a resort-kind of town with many cafes, shops and restaurants catering to Western tourism, a kind of place where music and passion were always the fashion.  I walked passed the main strip of souvenir stores and nice cafes down to the lakeside.  I was on lookout for Lara who was rumored to be there, in hopes that I might have the opportunity to start a paragraph in this entry with “Her name was Lara… She was a traveler…”  Unfortunately she was nowhere to be found.

“Joven,” (“Young one,”) an old woman called to me from one of the local food stands facing the lake front.  I went over to her and she pulled a towel from over a bin to reveal the fresh catch of lake trout she had.  She told me she’d fry it up and serve it with potatoes and rice for just ten bolivianos (about $1.28).  I couldn’t pass up such a bargain and complemented it with a big bottle of the Bolivian beer Sure?a.  Sarah was jealous of me when I told her what I had for lunch.  She and her family had tried one of the tourist restaurants on the strip and paid much more for “cold pasta and fish bones.”

“I really like food that is good,” Sarah said with her 12-year-old Danish accent.  “I don’t like food that is not so good.”

Don’t we all.


HER NAME WASN’T LOLA, his name was Joel.  And he wasn’t a showgirl, he was a chemistry student from Melbourne, Australia, traveling for a bit before heading back to school.  I met him back at the bus stop, where we loaded and boarded a new Bolivian bus — Peruvian buses aren’t licensed in Bolivia and vice versa. 

Just ten minutes after departure into the Bolivian lake shore countryside, I really knew it was a mistake to have that big beer at lunch without going to the bathroom.  I thought I could just go on the bus, but the new bus didn’t have an onboard lavatory.  The pressure on my bladder grew and grew like a water balloon stuck on a spigot with the water running and the fact that we were driving up one of the lake’s peninsulas didn’t help either — a reminder of water came to me from ahead, left and right.  I tried to ignore the pressure by talking with Joel about things to do in La Paz.

Luckily the bus stopped at a town for a leg stretch.  Jorge the conductor gave us instructions about something, but all I wanted to do was run off to the bathroom.  I got off the bus and ran down the block to the public facilities, and took one of those really long whizzes — so long that you could have probably started and finished a crossword puzzle before I shook off the after drops.  When I got back to the plaza where the bus was, it was gone — and every familiar face on the bus had disappeared.

I noticed that buses were being transported over the strait to the other side of the lake on wooden boats (picture above).  I also noticed that groups of people, possibly bus passengers, were buying tickets for a motor boat to take them across the lake as well.  I saw my blue bus halfway across the lake already and quickly bought a ticket for the people boats.  I rode the ten minutes with locals and tourists, including two American girls and two English (?) guys that were in Bolivia doing volunteer work with monkey and trees.  I started a debate amongst them over which was more exciting. 

On the other side of the strait, I ran to the blue bus I had seen, but soon realized it was the wrong blue bus.  I ran back to the plaza and found another blue bus starting to drive off.  Luckily it stopped when it saw me coming. 

“There he is,” Ivan said.  “We were almost going to leave without you.”

“You can thank Sarah for telling the driver to wait for you,” Elizabeth told me.  Sarah waved at me and smiled.

“Thanks.”

I suppose you should never underestimate the influential power of a twelve-year-old girl.  I mean, they already determine most American pop trends, why not Bolivian bus drivers?


THE BUS CONTINUED through the Bolivian countryside and ultimately down the awe-inspiring canyon where La Paz was situated in.  The sun was beginning to set down the canyon, highlighting the peaks of the nearby mountains.

The bus had a deal with a nice hotel with cable TV, but it was a little out of budget for me and Joel — we decided to split a room somewhere.  Ivan and Elizabeth decided to stay there to “give the kids a treat” and so I bid the Danish family goodbye. 

“Thanks Sarah for holding the bus for me,” I said.

“Oh, it’s nothing.  She stopped a bus in Mexico too,” her mother told me.


JOEL AND I took a taxi to a hostel in the Lonely Planet book on the other side of town.  There we met the handful of backpackers staying there, including two South Africans about to embark on a 50-hr bus journey to Iguazu Falls and two German guys just hanging out.  The courtyard of the hostel had no roof and I could feel the drop in temperature.  At almost 12,000 ft ABS, La Paz, the world’s highest capital city, gets quite cold without the sun to warm things up.  My fever started acting up again with a new painful sore throat.

Sick or not, I had to catch up on Blog duties and went out to find an internet place downtown.  It started to drizzle, which wasn’t good for my coming sickness.  At a pharmacy I asked for “medicina por la grippe, por todas las cosas” and received two tablets of some drug called Refrianex.  I went looking for a Chinese food place to get some soup to take with my medicine, but unlike Ecuador and Peru where there is a Chinese food place on every block, there was none.  After searching all over my neighborhood, cursing “Where the hell can I get some soup around here?!” I finally found a place with caldo de pollo, a chicken rice soup. 

I went back to the hostel and passed out in my bed with a really intense sore throat.  I wished I had one of those suction tubes that the dentist uses in the shape of a question mark so I wouldn’t have to swallow.

I suppose if I was a twelve-year-old girl, I could have gotten one.






Next entry: Jackie Chan to the Rescue

Previous entry: The Orange Hat




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Comments for “Saved By A Twelve-Year-Old”

  • ok…please say i’m not the only one to have sang in my head when i read “(AT THE COPA,) COPACABANA” and “Her name was Lara… She was a traveler…”

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  05:40 PM


  • looks like LP and Alice have no internet at work again…suckers!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  05:45 PM


  • always remember one thing erik…sopa de pollo is a cure all. hope you start to feel better soon.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  05:49 PM


  • EDWIN:  Yeah, the chicken soup did me good I think…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  05:52 PM


  • *sing* COPA-CABAN-NAAAAA *sing*

    No, you arn’t the only one Markyt!

    The Mask anyone?!?

    I guess its more than the grippe Erik. Fresh fruit juices and plenty of water and you’ll be good as new in a jiff!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  06:39 PM


  • Thanks for doing the blog even though you are sick.  Hope the throat feels better!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  06:49 PM


  • wow. that canyon pic is amazing. As always…good job and thanks for the update.

    btw, the fried whole isda looks damn good!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  07:38 PM


  • btw, do u have a downloads section where we can dl some of your pics? Something slightly higher res? i am always in search for new wallpapers!

    u can even watermark it w/ your global trip icon!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  07:46 PM


  • Hey Erik,

    Is there anyway you can find a doctor and get that troat checked out? You don’t want to come down with Streptococci (step thoat).

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  08:25 PM


  • You go girl!

    That canyon pic was beautiful!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  08:49 PM


  • Son, if you feel feverish & still has the sorethroat take the antibiotic for 5 days.  you might be coming down with strep throat.
    I am worried.
    call if you can..

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  09:44 PM


  • WARREN:  the sore throat comes and goes, depending how much I exert myself…  so it might just be a cold, and the lack of oxygen…  if it gets worse, I have cipro…otherwise I suppose I’ll go look for a doctor…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  09:44 PM


  • Son, if you feel feverish & still has the sorethroat take the antibiotic for 5 days.  you might be coming down with strep throat.
    I am worried.
    call if you can..

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  09:45 PM


  • LOVEPENNY:  Nope, WYSIWYG… I shoot low res… if I shot high res and had to downsample everything down to 72 dpi all the time, you’d NEVER get any pictures…

    Just scale it up, it’s not so bad…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  09:47 PM


  • MOM:  Ok, I’ll take the cipro tonight…  it cured me in the galapagos, and it can cure me here…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  09:49 PM


  • Hope you feel better.. thanks for keeping up with the blog even though you haven’t been feeling well!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  09:52 PM


  • WOW, according to my web counter, there are currently over 4,500 unique users on this blog.  Amazing! Simply aaamaazing..

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  10:07 PM


  • Yo Erik, I think Gabrielle and Marnie are in La Paz right now…maybe ya’ll can catch up!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/07  at  12:30 AM


  • no markyt, we did get back internet connection today, i am just slow. man, that fish looked so good!!! i wish i could get something like that for lunch around here. and i hope you are feeling better erik. take care of yourself. are you taking vitamins? maybe you should take some vitamins along with your juices. =)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/07  at  02:04 AM


  • great pics as usual. I have to say that fish looked very tasty. Feel better.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/07  at  12:13 PM


  • MOMAN:  I fired an email off to Garb…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/07  at  01:18 PM


  • MOM:  I took the cipro and am feeling 70% better now…  hopefully 30% more after I eat some food soon…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/07  at  01:19 PM


  • Loved the pictures… I was checking out the pin cushion link again for I’m going for the Hepitits A & Thyphod Fever shots today.  Nicole, Ellen and I are leaving for Costa Rica Feb. 7.  Sorry we couldn’t make Rio for Carnival!  Talk to you soon!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/07  at  02:15 PM


  • damn, $1.28…that’s better than the $2 bar menu at mcormick’s..and u dont’ have to buy two drinks first…

    jenn, send erik some vitamins

    tranquilo pics

    wheat
    ps, tito tommy is crazy about East, he’s planning on holding his cybirdove business meetings there….i guess its a step up from int’l buffet.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/07  at  03:31 PM


  • ANN-MARIE:  Hey there, glad you’re enjoying The Blog… pass the word on!  Ah, shots…  Are you getting malaria medicine too?  It’s 1/2 off if you order on-line from Canada…but I’m told I could have gotten a 3-month supply for 90 cents at a local store in Africa!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/07  at  03:43 PM


  • WHEAT:  Even if I had to buy two drinks, the big beers were only 64 cents.  (If only it was a nickel more…)

    JENN:  send me some vitamins!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/07  at  03:45 PM


  • You’re a real trooper to keep blogging while you’re sick. You need some *Ricolas!* Feel better. Oh, and if I’m humming Barry Manilow tomorrow you’re a gonner.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/07  at  09:40 PM


  • Erik… i’ll send ya some vitamins..  you just gotta stay in one place till they come!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/08  at  09:50 PM


  • Hey Mr. E, you have been given quite a few lectures already, but I shall add to it. This sounds like a fab place to take a few days rest, maybe you do need it. Chicken soup and medicines are fine, but rest is important too. I just had a big bowl of chicken soup, down with sniffles and am off home to rest. Take care

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/09  at  09:47 AM


  • Eric,
    Very interesting!
    I envy you. If I am younger I’ll do the same.
    Maybe, I’ll just rent an RV take my guitar and harmonica, with a digital video and do my thing!
    Go all over the continent. Experience all the national parks-Grand Teton, Grand Canyon, the Everglades or yellowstone. Wow.
    Hope to hear from you. Hope my new biz venture works out.
    Tommy

    Posted by Tito Tommy  on  01/20  at  03:56 PM


  • Eric,
    Take 2 kisspirin and we’ll see ya next year!

    Cy

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/20  at  04:12 PM


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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by BootsnAll.com. It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today, RickSteves.com, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.


Next entry:
Jackie Chan to the Rescue

Previous entry:
The Orange Hat




THE GLOBAL TRIP GLOSSARY

Confused at some of the jargon that's developed with this blog and its readers over the years? Here's what they mean:

BFFN: acronym for "Best Friend For Now"; a friend made on the road, who will share travel experiences for the time being, only to part ways and lose touch with

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1981ers: people born after 1981. Originally, this was to designate groups of young backpackers fresh out of school, many of which were loud, boorish and/or annoying. However, time has passed and 1981ers have matured and have been quite pleasant to travel with. The term still refers to young annoying backpackers, regardless of year — I guess you could call them "1991ers" in 2013 — young, entitled millennials on the road these days, essentially.




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