For the first time, I've begun to feel like I'm a very long way from
We arrived in La Paz, Bolivia after an early morning flight from Peru.
An already exhausting layover was extended by a grand storm that
apparently reached all the way to Sucre, the destination of our second
flight of a very long travel day. We couldn't fly out of La Paz due to
lightning and we couldn't land in Sucre because of a downpour. When we
did finally reach our destination, we were faced with a three hour
drive up the mountains to Potosi. A day that began at 5:00am, finally
ended at 9:30 at night. This to cover a distance of only 583 miles.
Such is travel in a complicated terrain. But, as we drove and the
daylight finally gave way to headlights, a break in the clouds
revealed the Southern stars that I've only seen once before in my
life. I remembered that I was on a different continent and in a
different hemisphere and very far from home.
Monday April 13
Potosi is considered to be the highest city in the world at nearly
14,000 feet. It was once richer and more populace than Paris because
of the massive silver mine pictured above. It is a very cold and
desolate place, but that doesn't reflect on the people who live here.
We spent part of the morning in the town square and visited the bell
tower of the main cathedral. We climbed the old stone staircase and
our guide was kind enough to ring the largest bell in Bolivia so that
I could record it. His only comment, after I raised a silent hand up
until the last tone had faded, was "I hope the Bishop didn't hear..."
Our film project required us to drive up the mountain to the silver
mines. The rain and hail began as we tried several times to film. We
did successfully shoot on an outcropping that resembled the Moon as
lightning began to surround us. The roads that we ascended with our
Chinese autobus, were rutted, sheer, and by this time muddy and
unpredictable. All one can really do in this situation is to lower
your head, close your eyes and think pleasant thoughts prior to your
We did survive, as this note attests, but nobody escaped frazzled
nerves. I'm still sipping my second stiff Scotch as I write from my