July 13, 2012
Friday is my first day of telecommuting from Bolivia. It doesn’t work so well. Because my only Internet access at this point is via a wireless modem and the signal is very weak, attending a speaker-phone meeting via Skype is impossible. On top of that, I come down with traveler’s diarrhea in the mid-afternoon (Cipro helps, thankfully). I skip dinner and spend the evening watching Chilean telenovellas and Barton Fink (on a channel called Glitz); the former are almost as creepy as the latter.
This morning we play the dictionary game. The best results are for klister: “a soft wax used on skis”; “an ancient Greek medical instrument used for extracting impurities”; “a machine used to make the filling for sausages”; and “a jug from Germany, often used to carry milk.” Others: thaumaturgist: “a doctor who specializes in head trauma” (me); irredenta: “the act of watching shooting stars and making wishes as they pass” (Thalia); novena: “an African ship with three masts” (Jacky); timbale: “a controlled fire” (Thalia); ikebana: “people with a strong dislike of Eisenhower” (Karen).
By now I have fallen in love with Sucre. The baroque churches with their curled columns, the painted clouds that arrive before rain, the steep narrow streets that run straight and square regardless of the hills, the shops that sell everything at a small fraction of the US price, the wandering Andean drummers and guitarists and singers, the odd music on the radio with its slightly off triple meter, the mellifluous Spanish tongue, the discoveries every time one takes a walk—it all makes me so happy I could burst.
In the central plaza, named 25 de Mayo, is a giant lion made of shrubbery. At night his eyes shine ridiculously bright. I think I know how he feels: proud, happy, and very strange.