“Travel far enough, you meet yourself.” David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
Thank you, Bolivia, for reminding me of who and what I am. I had forgotten.
It’s been a slow process and I can’t pinpoint when it was that I started to forget.
Maybe sometime during college, maybe even before. Perhaps during high school when I was trying to get over my lanky awkwardness. Perhaps it was later, when I was working at a multinational company, a small cog in a giant machine.
And I don’t know why I forgot either. Maybe it was because I was too busy going to parties and having a good time during school. Maybe it was because, afterwards I was too obsessed with my career. Maybe, it’s simply because that’s what you are expected to do when you grow up. In any case, I forgot.
Thank you, Bolivia, for reminding me that I like being outside.
I forgot how good the sun feels in the early morning, right when the coolness of night is just a faint breath in the air, and the earth is starting to soak up the life-giving heat. Or the way the wind feels when it rushes past me as I ride a bike downhill, the wind whipping my cheeks and shouting in my ear something that only I can hear. Thank you, Bolivia for holding me in the dance of the earth. I remember the feeling.
On your ground, I really looked at the stars.
I used to do that when I was a kid – look up at them and take in all of the possibilities of what could be out there – contemplate how we can be such a speck in the universe and yet life is there, or rather here. And in the Solar de Uyuni, with the lights of the world turned off behind me, the stars slapped me in the face and I couldn’t help but look.
You also reminded on the Death Road that I like being afraid,
just a little, as when I rode down Berkley Hill no handed on my huffy dirt bike. I felt that same rush of uneasiness in the pit of my stomach the night before I biked your Death Road.
And although the Death road itself isn’t extremely dangerous, the stories I had heard of people biking off the side of it made me think that they were called there by the abyss. And my mind wandered over the possibilities. While riding with a 600 ft cliff off to my left, would I suddenly and inexplicably hang a louie? Thank you for reminding me that I won’t.
You, Bolivia, reminded me how little I know;
that you have a middle class, and that crime in Bolivia is far less prevalent than I thought. Thank you for reminding me to ask questions, even if they are “stupid”.
Thank you for reminding me that life can continue without an internet connection; that the real world is out there to be explored like the forest near my childhood home. Thank you for reminding me that there are deep, dark caves where I could get lost, and sunsets that are filled with colors that I didn’t think belonged in sunsets. Thank you for reminding me that the world is there to share its secrets, thank you for reminding me to look.