Bolivia postcard

Finished my meal in the tiny restaurant, two young women, 14 and 17 if I was betting, ably running the entire show. I ask the set meal price, she says 20 bolivianos, I have one in my pocket folded around another few bills but as I am working it loose it tears completely in half in the flourish act of handing it over. She looks down at the half bill, the other one starts laughing, she starts laughing and it’s one of those inexplicable moments when we’re all laughing without being able to stop and it’s making us cry and weak and it goes on and on.

Chill of next morning, flocked at an outdoor table, a trio of smiling perhaps sisters, frying up dough and serving hot drinks, both my hands around the mug of coffee. Chat, answer questions, laugh at jokes.


Move to sit in the plaza, not quite ready to ride yet, the park bench is stamped 1997, and I’m reminded that I’ve seen a great many plaques and markers of public works from that era, a time of greater prosperity, as so much that was new then is now crumbling or overgrown, showing vestigial signs of where there was an electric bulb but the wires have been ripped out.

A middle aged man sits next to me on the bench, listening to music on his mobile. Rather more Simon & Garfunkle here than I’m used to hearing at home.