Friday, August 04, 2006

Hello Cruel World

The first stop on my journey was Cochabamba, Bolivia. Cochabamba is the 3rd largest city in the poorest nation in South American. I chose Cochabamba because my friend Rebecca Kirchheimer was the second in command at the Foundation for Sustainable Development there . I lived as her roommate for the month of August and left the city for an excursion to Uyuni, where I saw enormous salt flats and to Inca ruins at Incacallacta. It certainly took my body some time to adjust to the high altitude and dry air. I got headaches and nose bleeds every day when I first arrived. As the locals do, I tried drinking Coca tea and chewed on Coca leaves to alleviate the symptoms.

Living abroad made me think about what it means to be American. After losing at a Bolivian dice game one night at Dalí, a Bolivian friend of mine beat me at poker. Losing at an American game irked me. After salsa lessons with some European friends of mine from my Spanish school, we all went bowling. At the bowling alley, I did a better job of representing my country.

At bowling, I was the only one who cheered vociferously when people got strikes and I got a higher score than anybody else. I cheered for myself too. After the game, a Swiss girl named Mirjam asked me “Why do you have so much pride for the United States?” She couldn’t piece together patriotism with the sharp criticisms of the Bush administration that I also expressed. In Europe, she associates national pride with the right-wing. “I love American superheroes, rock music,” I shared my gut response. “There are also some political traditions that I’m fond of.” I continued my list in writing the next morning on the bus to class.

On the way to Dalí after watching a documentary on the indigenous Guaraní, a Bolivian friend named Jorge once asked me “Do you think that the people who slaughtered the natives of North America went to Hell?” “I don’t believe in Hell”, I answered.


Abe said...

Yes!!! So excited to read your blog. It already made me laugh multiple times. I miss you Plisky, I'm so glad we got to hang for September. Keep pliskin it up for the rest of us.

Andrea said...


Andrea K

Laurel said...

For some reason I was under the impression you were in Vegas. Far from it. Please send a postcard to

Mairead & Laurel Salsich-Kemper
2412 Chestnut St.
Falls Church, VA 22043,

if you have a chance. I would be happy to reciprocate with one from Azerbaijan, Moldova, Armenia, or Georgia if you have an address of the future.

Stephanie said...

Wow! How amazing, bro!!!!

what an amazing life and superb writing. Keep it up for the rest of us living a normal life and not writing about it :)

We miss you tons!

Stephanie said...

we want more!