Tuesday, May 14, 2002 – Random Acts of Meat.
Our airline bathroom was standing under an inch of water, which took the pressure of marksmanship off us who stand when we pee. (Come to think of it, maybe that wasn’t water.) At any rate, they had laid newspaper down to soak it up and the soggy newpaper was getting tracked around the cabin like a new coat of paper mache.
A fellow Americano pointed out that all the Brasillian money we had on us was gonna be worthless once we entered Bolivia. This after we consciously decided not to change our tour earnings back into dollars. Good, now we’ll finally be on a level playing field with Devon. That is, we’ll all be cash-poor (which is still better off than the Bolivians who make an average yearly income of less than $900). Assuming Devon actually makes it here on Saturday.
Until then it’s just gonna be Karoline and Robert (aka The Collins) and myself.
Along with nurturing a new facial hairstyle each tour, I also try to overcome one of my bad habits, or just get one under control. Or sometimes I start doing something I should have been doing anyway. My first tour was five weeks long and I tried to see if I could ignore any urges towards self-gratification. (Our drummer, who was like a monkey in that respect, somehow stole my thunder and in a sort of transitive way made it easier for me not to.) On another trip I stopped eating meat, and another I started exercising and stretching regularly, while on another I tried sleeping on my back as opposed to my side. This trip I chose to stop crossing my legs or ankles. It messes up my back, especially when I do it for hours on end in van after van, bus after bus, airplane after airplane. So far it’s been uncomfortable not being able to cross my legs but I’ve noticed a huge improvement, especially when I give in and do it for a little while and realize how bad it messes me up.
Being a mere vegetarian among vegans, I was both sad and delighted when our vegetarian pasta con queso arrived. Sad that my compatriots would not be able to enjoy some Grade D airplane ‘food,’ glad that I could eat theirs. The pasta was like three-day-old generic mac and cheese that had been over-microwaved, but it was a little better than Karoline and Robert’s plate of nothing. Not surprisingly, I found a sliver of beef floating under the top viscous layer of cheese. Discouraged but not deterred, I trashed mine then ripped into Karoline’s entrée. A few bites later I spit out a cube of ham.
Suddenly all that I had eaten tasted like bacon and I was officially grossed out. I tried for the salad, hoping the white-ish lettuce would scrape the icky meat juice out of my mouth, but in a cruel twist of fate the salad was actually coconut and cheese sprinkled on green-ish chicken. I was actually a little impressed by the resourcefulness of the kitchen staff for finding such an ingenious way to utilize their leftover coconut, cheese and chicken.
Never one to pass up dessert. I moved on, but with trepidation. I dumped all my earlier dishes into one yellow, yellower, yellowest pile and moved it out of the way of my chocolate raspberry cakes. Robert’s dessert had a hole in it’s cellophane (no doubt caused by a rabid shard of animal gristle) so I started with Karoline’s. It was uncommonly delicious and not at all the pork Ding Dong I expected. The final cake contained no random acts of meat so I finished it and gulped down as much water as was available.
Our second flight was less eventful. Our desserts were chocolate custard cookies (and not creamy beef and nougat biscuits).
We arrived in La Paz, Bolivia close to 8pm. Even at over 10,000 feet altitude sickness isn’t supposed to kick in for about day. We still found ourselves short of breath. It was hard to tell if we were just psyching ourselves out or if we really were craving oxygen, but a quick look around at the other passengers waiting for their luggage proved we were not alone. Everybody seemed to be either clasping their chests or inhaling deeply.
Karin, whom Karoline became great friends with when she roadied for Spitboy, met us at the airport. With tears of joy she walked us to our cab. I had to pee before we took the thirty-minute ride into the city so I sprinted to the closest baño. I nearly peed all over myself as I wheezed and gasped and tried to catch my breath. What made this especially traumatic was the fact that my ribs were in such pain even without the huffing and puffing.
The second effect I noticed the altitude take was my inability to hock up the looch that seemed to be riding the back of my tongue since we landed. Try as I might I was only able to conjure of some sort of foamy spit that felt like Nerf.
The altitude also makes the body produce copious amounts of loud, odorless, endlessly entertaining gas. Thankfully, Karin was also entertained by this so we ruined what little oxygen we had and settled down at Karin’s house with cup after cup of coca tea. The tea, we’re told, will help alleviate the side-effects of the altitude [but will not give us any sort of buzz – to do that one must combine some coca leaves (which in an unprocessed/refined state is absolutely legal) with a dash of baking soda. I tried this but to no avail.]
The air outside was cold and crisp, like is normal for a cloudless winter night, but all the house windows were left open. We were passed out by 11.
WHN? in Sudamerica - May 2002
0 – Please wake me for meals.