Waking up I feel okay but the boys don’t. I’d gone to bed early but they drank bubblegum rum, whatever the fuck that is. Sounds gross. Down a flight of stairs for breakfast and it’s pretty spartan, some pieces of bread and bullshit coffee. It doesn’t matter though, jet-skis await!
Or maybe they don’t. We walk up the strip and look around for the place where we negotiated the rental of jet-skis and the dude is nowhere to be seen. We’re still half an hour early, let’s grab some cafe con leche. The milk is weird and chunky. Still coffee though so fuck it. Okay now it’s 9:15 and Senor Jet-Ski is nowhere to be seen. Give him an hour – we really want these jet-skis. Still no dice. Alright fuck this guy. I go back to the hotel to lay around and be a sack of shit while the boys head to the cathedral.
Jet Skis down Drisdelle and I decide to finally check out the central cathedral. Thing is massive. Huge courtyard and a series of three crosses. We walk into the main church area and it’s pretty neat. Instead of the usual heaven/hell shit on the ceiling it’s a colorful montage of kaleidoscope colors and then the usual ornate altar backdrop at the front, except the Jesus cross thin is way smaller. We walk around for a bit and get some pics of the joint.
Out of the Cathedral and the streets are alive with local markets. We continue the quest for the Cafe Llama sweater. Drisdelle still can’t find anything that fits. Fail again. We go into a bunch of market squares but aren’t really into the buying local produce thing, don’t really need it. Still makes for good pics though.
While on the hunt for the elusive Cafe Llama sweater I do spot a cool musical instrument though. It’s called a Charanga. 5 strings, doubled at octaves presumably, no idea how they’re tuned since it’s horribly out of tune, but I pull it off the wall and am enthralled in the idea of this thing. Small and travel-able. Going for it. I borrow some Bolivabucks from Drisdelle so I can get this thing and a colorful carrying case t’boot.
We continue the Alpaca sweater hunt to no avail and then wander our way down to the waterfront again. It’s Halloween, which means it’s Tha Queebs birthday, so we decide it’d be good to take a Swan paddle boat out onto lake Titikaka and try to make a happy birthday video singing to the charanga while we paddle about on the lake. Worked out pretty well. Afterwards it was about time to split town.
Bouncing town, head to the bus station area to grab tickets. Got “tourist bus” tickets to La Paz for a pretty decent price but with a bit of time to kill, so we nab some empanadas. The chick serving them is British, maybe? There’s an older chick hanging around who might be her mom and a 5-ish year old who looks very white/Euro, must be a family who moved over here. The empanadas are fucking fantastic, as are the pieces of savory pie we have with them. Goddamn.
While we’re outside scarfing shit down Murphy gets hassled by a shoeshiner. I’m on the outside of this situation looking in but it turns out the guy hates Copacabana because everyone there wears hiking boots, sneakers or flip-flops, rendering his profession unnecessary. He’d like some money to get back to La Paz though. With large and sad anime eyes Murphy tosses a couple bucks his way. Fucking killer scam – it’s like shoeshining without actually having to shoeshine.
Hop the bus, it’s almost empty, let’s grab some sweet ass seats. Wait, no it’s not. There’s a sweater or a bottle of water on every seat. Fuckers! At the back of the seat are a couple of Korean girls and they clear the seats ahead of us, turns out to be a crew of five of them that were just spreading out. The bus starts rolling until we reach another lakeside view and the bus stops, people getting out to take pictures. I don’t have a camera, I’m not going anywhere. Or am I? We’re getting thrown off. One of the Korean girls explains that we have to get off the bus while it’s loaded onto a barge and we have to jump onto passenger boats, meeting it on the other side.
The ferry’s easy and we easily beat the barge with twenty minutes to fuck around on the other side. Coca candy, anybody? No, nobody has any. Dammit. Some dude walks by Drisdelle and Murphy and a lot of arms go up and hands are shaken. Mikey! Oh, it’s the dude the boys got hammered with off Bazooka Ron the other night. Despite a complete inability to communicate in either direction, Mikey forces Drisdelle to exchange numbers so we can all hook up in La Paz and party down.
We jump back on the bus and drive for another couple of hours, mostly nondescript. At one point I’m looking out into fields of emptiness when I see some kid mooning the bus. And then he kicks it up a notch. I punch Murphy, next to me, in the arm. “Did you fucking see that?” “What?” “That fucking kid.” “No.” “He just mooned us and then stuck two fingers in his ass.” Murphy loses his shit laughing. “That kid’s gonna be famous some day.”
Shortly afterward we’re winding our way into what we assume, and is, La Paz. For some reason we veer off the main roads and bomb the bus down a bunch of suburban dirt-track riverside trails. Windows have to be closed cause we’re kicking up shit. Then we have to pull over and hang out for twenty minutes because a rock the size of my fist got itself jammed somewhere in behind the rear driver-side wheel (by the sound I’d guess it was worked in against the brake rotor, somehow).
Back on the road and it hits us that the scenery around here is really pretty dope. There was snow on the way into town and although there isn’t much around the roadside now there’s a shitload lining the peaks in every direction. We crest the edge of the “bowl” and see the real city, holy shit! It’s mostly homogeneous brick 2-3 storey buildings on the way on, very little soul, but shit changes when we hit the bowl. Still a lot of red-brick homogeneity but with eccentric touches, one edge of a building painted, a balcony with unusual flare, a triangular window. A flashback of Guanajuato. A fucking massive drop down into what appears to be the core of the city and we switchback the shit out of it, working our way down back and forth over the cable car’s path.
Into the core and it’s classic Latin America. HONK! HONK! HONK! Traffic is complete bullshit. Kids who can barely walk and elderly folks in the same state are passing us, this is retarded. Eventually we push our way through and the bus drops us off at, well, just in the middle of the shit. Hostels and hotels in all directions but not really a bus station. There’s a bank machine though, so we cash up. Immediately some dude hassles Murphy with a fuckload of watches. Watch? Reloj? Watch? Reloj? Shit, some of those watches are nice. Murphy’s eyes twinkle with the reflection of a baller-as-fuck silver “Swiss” watch. Twenty bucks, the dude says. Murphy offers him ten. The guy says fifty. Not fifteen, fifty. We all crack up – “That’s not how this game works!!!”. Murphy doesn’t care. Best position to be in when hustling. Fuck 50. 10. Ok, 100 bolivianos. Eventually Murphy has some nice counterfeit shit for $13 USD.
We jank a cab aiming for the Loki hostel in La Paz. Fubar had turned us on to this party hostel and we were thinking that’d be a good spot for Halloween night, despite MacKay’s lingering sickness. The cab ride is pure stupidity. We come around a corner and the place is crammed. What is going on here? We’re jammed up against other cars, almost squishing pedestrians between vehicles, it’s a clusterfuck. Tons of honking and not much moving. The cabbie pulls an audible and busts it down a side street. Nope. There’s a truck stacked with furniture and shit that can’t make a hill. It’s backing up down the street. Everybody reverse. It takes a 63 point turn to get us turned around and back out the street. Back into the fray and we’re honking and our cabbie is now sweating with the excursion of it all. No power steering. We bust out of the jam again and down another road. This one has a crazy steep incline and the cab doesn’t have a manual transmission. It struggles to a crawl, we’re literally moving at a snails pace, don’t think the car is gonna make it. MacKay hops out, drops 200+ pounds from the car and it starts up the hill again. MacKay is climbing the hill faster on foot with his backpack than we are. Put put putt and faaaaawk we’re over the crest. Ok, MacKay is back in. We bomb it down a questionable sidestreet filled with vendors and markets and people filling the street. Honk honk honk, and we’re through. Round the corner and we’re at the Loki. This whole misadventure took about an hour. I think the Loki is about 5 minutes from the bus terminal. When we were paying up it kind of felt like a scam. Sure the cabbie was sweating and seemed to have worked his ass off. At the same time it felt like an act. I dunno. Fuck it.
File into the Loki and the place has a good vibe right off the bat. Party hostel for sure. We grab a room on the 5th floor and just up the back stairs on the 7th is the bar. We roll up just to check the place out and it’s already semi-going-off. As soon as we get up there a girl in a pink wig stops us, “Hey! You guys seems awesome! we’ve got a bunch of costume stuff if you want. But there’s also a place around the corner to get costumes. Are you guys gonna get costumes? Ohhh you guys look like you’re gonna get dressed up and be awesome. What are you gonna wear? Ohhhh you guys seems awesome! Ohhhhh get some costumes and come back. Do you think you’ll get some costumes? Here’s where to get some.” She gives us directions to costumes. Seems kind of eager for us to get involved. The energy is ramping up, we can feel the mojo rising. Whoops it’s happy hour. Double rum and cokes. Go. MacKay is trying to withstand the urge…. works for a second.
We go back out and I’m telling Murphy to go fuck himself, I’m NOT going out tonight. I’m still kind of sick. It makes no sense for me to dress up and party all night. Two blocks over and up and Murphy and Drisdelle are into the costumes, Drisdelle finds a beet / strawberry costume that’s obviously intended for a kid but we reckon we can modify it to fit over his torso with some Leatherman magic. Murphy grabs a kimono with the intention of going as a geisha. Damn, pretty sick.
I briefly consider a chicken-head and Drisdelle is enamored with it, but I decide against it.
I still don’t want to go out and I’m joking around about going as a “sexy bee” … A costume on a mannequin that’s built for a supersexy 20-year old femme. No chance that’ll fit me but it’d be hilarious, good thing I’m not going out. I stretch it’s skirt and slap the ass jokingly and the fucking mannequin falls apart, broken at the hips and the shoulders. Storekeep looks at me like “You fucking asshole”… Fine, I’ll buy it. 25 bucks. Fuck me. What did I just do.
On the way back to the hostel Murphy is full-on into the geisha shuffle, we’re getting laughed at and stared at like the maniacs we are. We get back in and slice up Drisdelle’s costume to fit over him, and I strip down to shorts and get a fucking bee costume on. Fuck me. Let’s go upstairs.