July 18, 2013
Spanish is an optimistic language. There are two ways of saying “to be”: ser, which implies permanence, and estoy, which implies impermanence. To say “I’m healthy,” one uses ser; to say “I’m sick,” one uses estoy. To say “I’m happy,” one uses ser; to say “I’m sad,” one uses estoy. At least that's what my Spanish teacher, Aleida, tells me.
Me, I feel very impermanent. I wake up light-headed and nauseous; even going up the stairs makes me breathless. Lingering altitude sickness? A stomach bug? I skip lunch and then walk with Karen and Thalia to the top of a high hill. I’m looking around when I step into a deep hole that I somehow fail to notice. My right leg goes in up to my thigh, banging my knee badly. (It’s absolute déjà vu: I did exactly the same thing to my left leg a couple of months ago getting off the Metra train.) I pull it out and my heart is racing. I sit on a pile of dirt, lean against Karen, and pass out. Karen wakes me up from a ten-second dream which I can’t remember except that it was light green, and we take a taxi down the hill. Even now, hours later, and even after a large meal and a cup of maté de coca, my heart is still pounding a bit too fast and hard for my liking.
But it isn’t a completely bad day. I get a piece of good news in the morning which I will share later.
And two more things to like about Bolivian food: the chocolate is astonishing (we go through about four three-ounce bars of “amargo intenso,” single-source, from a local chocolatier called Para Ti every week), and the mineral water, Viscachani, is just the way I like it—very salty.