Monthly Report: No Water, No Bathroom - Greetings from the Desert
en el espacio entre mi ultimo mensaje y este estuve de paso por buenos aires. hora estoy mejor equipdo para afrontar los proximos meses. arme la carpa y una pequeña base justo donde los rios pinto y el san gregorio se unen para formar el rio quilpo. hay otra gente tambien. estamos ocupando espacio publico. medio comunidad medio no tanto. es espectacular. aca se come bien, hay un lindo monte, y evidncia de pasado comechingon, los indios que vivian en la sierras.
ayer estuve hasta el mediodia con diarrea. hoy ya estoy bien. anteayer aparecio una chica con un violin y en un pastito junto al rio toco un par de piezas que me hicieron viajar por los cosmos. hoy me levante temprano y me vine caminando los 20km que hay de mi base al pueblo a llamar a mi vieja. la tecla “a” en este tecldo no funciona bien.
en estos dias, unos de los chicos que se estuvieron quedando en el rio se van para bolivia a quedarse un tiempo en una comunidad amiga. si queres te consigo info.
te iba a sugerir que me podia acoplar a su viaje en algun momento, pero cambiron las cosas, al menos un mes mas me tengo que quedar aca porque adopte un par de cachorritas que fueron dejadas por la madre. pero en un mes quien te dice, y en dos ni hablar.
las sierras estan para recorerlas.
Greetings from the Desert. Our bodies and our belongings are full of sand and it feels alright. Especially in the ears.
I’m glad to hear you found a good place to set up camp. If you get sick again they say boiled rice mixed with plain yogurt is supposed to stop diarrhea. Give it a try, it’s never worked for me, but maybe you’ll have better luck.
The reason I haven’t written in a while is because Ania and I have also set up camp, only we’re staying in the backyard of the one poor family in a desert oasis luxury resort called Huacachina. Gigantic sand dunes surround the place and its green, palm tree-lined lagoon. Our first day in town, we climbed over one of the dunes, which wasn’t easy, and found more dunes on the other side. Endless sand.
The landscape of nothing makes for phantasmagorical sunsets.
If that means anything.
It’s hot. So much so that thinking in the afternoon is not allowed. I don’t know how the locals do it. The people we’re staying with pass their afternoons either sleeping or sitting in the shade of the kitchen where a hundred flies swarm their bodies, looking for a sip of sweat, seeking out a taste of saliva from the corner of their mouths.
Other than the lagoon, there’s not much water around here. At the moment, the family lives without running water. The mother, Angelica, has to secretly fill up buckets with a garden hose behind the police station at night. I’ve helped her a few times since her husband doesn’t seem to do anything other than watch TV when he gets home from a car garage in Ica. He doesn’t even say “hola.” We’ve been here a week and I think he’s looked in my direction once.
It’s an interesting situation made more interesting by the fact that the family also lives without a bathroom. Not even a hole in the ground. Yes, this is a new one for us and, Yes, it’s a challenge.
They built their shack-house illegally on the edge of town. Angelica said they’ll get kicked out if they pour a foundation or dig a hole for an outhouse because that would upgrade their home to a permanent structure – which is wrong since they’re supposed to remain transient residents.
For this reason, and many others I can’t understand, they live in a four-room, sand floor shack and have to time their digestive cycles. Sometimes, Ania and I get to use the neighbor’s house, but they started charging us, so now we just go outside and that’s no simple matter in a desert …
There are no trees, no bushes and few buildings. Just flat sand land with nothing to hide behind.
We must make a nice sight for all those morning joggers and taxi drivers with our stressed sand dune crouch.
Water and bathroom issues aside, it’s been good to stay with the family. They took us in, without thinking it over much, and they don’t even charge us. Angelica won’t accept our money. She’s driven by her hatred of local businesses and how they take advantage of tourists.
“They charge thirteen dollars for a plate of food that takes one dollar to make,” she said. “That’s just too much. These people have no morals.”
Talking about morals, her daughter, Lucia, is 17 years old and dresses like a dominatrix in volleyball shorts. She works at the town laundromat and gets paid in beer. One day, we gave Lucia some clothes to wash for us, but she returned them smelling worse than they did before they were “cleaned.” She’s a good person, though. She’s studying to become a physical therapist.
Lucia’s brother, Jose, is 15 years old and works the night shift at a hotel lounge bar. He gets paid $1.50 an hour to sweep the floors and clean the bathrooms in a place that charges $130 a night per room. He goes to sleep at 7 a.m. and wakes up sometime after sunset. In between work and sleep, he attends to school to become a police officer.
In return for their hospitality, Ania and I cook meals for the family and help clean the house.
But I’ll stop rambling now. It’s late, the cockroaches are parading on gas range and a sandstorm is blowing into the kitchen. You wanted to know where we could meet up to travel together. I don’t know exactly what our route will be, but we’ll probably head towards that grand temple in the sky near Cuzco, then wander around Bolivia before diving south to Chile, possibly all the way to Valparaiso and Santiago, and after that, we’ll finally enter your motherland of mate, steak and fine wine.
You’re welcome to join us anywhere along the way. I just hope you’re ready to live without electricity or water or bathrooms if the situation calls for it.
Bring the puppies,