Twitter Facebook

Trucha Frita

1

When we got home from Bolivia and my father asked me what the best part of the trip was, I answered, without hesitation, “Breakfast at the floating island trout restaurant.” That statement holds true today. My heart heard angels sing that morning, I swear to you.

Now where were we? That’s right, day six of our travels, day four in Bolivia, day three of our first trek, about two hours into the day. Approximately eighteen hours since our last honest meal, not counting the half-cup of cold, practically raw quinoa we had shared the evening before. As the morning waned, the road we hiked became more traveled, not by people on foot like us, but by vehicles. Which would have been no big deal except that it was a dirt road and whenever a truck went past it kicked up a cloud of dirt so huge and thick we were completely enveloped for the next minute or so. We quickly learned to anticipate this, cover our nose and mouths with the neck of our fleece, and hold our breath. Because otherwise – ick. And even still – ICK. I’ve never inhaled so much flying dirt in my life. Add to this our hunger and the morning soon went from a lovely stroll through an idyllic village to a horrible trek through miserable misery.

In my memory we hiked for hours and hours like this, but it couldn’t have been that long. We started hiking around six-thirty and we found the magical floating island around nine-thirty, so maybe it was only two hours of miserably misery?* We hiked and hiked, shielding our faces from the dirt blown up by passing trucks, and the longer I hiked the hungrier I got. Soon the hunger pangs were so bad I was doubled over, hardly able to walk.

(*ED: I just checked with Mike and he says we left camp at 6:00 a.m. and arrived at the restaurant at 10:30 a.m., so it had been a four-and-a-half hour hike by the time we reached the floating island. No wonder it felt like hours of misery.)

I realize that sounds incredibly weak and dramatic, but I’m a delicate flower when it comes to hunger. If I bothered to see a doctor about it (which I would if I had health insurance, but I don’t) I’m sure I’d be diagnosed as hypoglycemic.  When my blood sugar drops I get very, very sick. I can’t think straight, I shake, my vision wavers, and I suffer awful stomach pains. I usually carry glucose tablets wherever I go, but of course I didn’t bring any to Bolivia because I was saving weight! But the few ounces of weight saved didn’t matter when I finally collapsed on the side of the road next to a cow, shaking, my head between my knees, tears making tiny clean spots on the toes of my dusty boots.

Just take one more step, I told myself. One more step. One more step.

I don’t remember how we finally found the restaurant, or why we decided to check it out, but suddenly, there it was.

2

A mirage. It must be. We were so hungry we were hallucinating. Mike dropped his pack and told us to stay put, watch his stuff, he was going to investigate. There were some locals doing, I don’t know, local stuff I guess, and I don’t know what was said but there was much pointing and nodding and when Mike came back he said that in fact what we were seeing was real, a real restaurant, and it was open. It didn’t look open, but we figured it was worth a fifteen minute walk out of our way. Our next chance for food was probably Copacabana and that was easily three more hours of hiking, so off we went.

3

We had to hike down and around and up and back down and across. It took us twenty minutes but the closer we got, the more beautiful the little floating island became. Mike rushed ahead to make sure we really could settle down and eat there. The man he spoke to told him that we probably wouldn’t be happy eating breakfast there, as they only served trout. What he didn’t realize is that we would have gladly eaten spider guts at that point.

“He’s catching the fish now!” Mike called to us. “Hurry up!”

6

Have you ever seen so many fish in one place in your whole life?

9

10

He caught the fish right in front of us, three beautiful, silvery, jumping fish.

11

And then he gutted them, right there, while they were still alive and flipping their tails in his hands. I wanted to feel terrible about it, for their suffering and pain, but instead I said a prayer of thanks for the meal I was about to eat, and for the sacrifice of the little fish lives. I know that there are people in the world who go weeks without food and it was less than a day for me, but by God I needed something in my belly or I was going to kill someone a lot bigger than a fish.

As soon as the fish were cleaned and ready, he handed them over to his wife who fried them up. While she cooked, we amused ourselves by wandering around and taking pictures. My heart had completely lifted at the prospect of a good meal and for the first time in all the six days we’d been traveling, I felt like I was on vacation.

4

5

13

14

12

And there you have it, amigos. The best meal/best moment/best EVERYTHING of our entire three weeks in Bolivia.

Ok, maybe not the best EVERYTHING, but certainly one of the highlights.

L.A. to Mexico City to Tapachula…

…to Lima to Santa Cruz to La Paz

La Paz = Love

Cementario del Distrito

Copacabana

Isla del Sol en las Fotografias

Trekking Isla del Sol

Trekking Isla del Sol, One Step at a Time

Evening in Yampupata

The Village Awakens


You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
You can leave a response, or create a trackback from your own site.

  • I so totally love that little island thing in the lake. It needs my evil wizards tower on top of it though  🙂

    • No evil wizards in the magical floating island! Only unicorns and rainbows!

      • I never get to have any fun! Poo! 🙁

  • ‘Cita

    So lovely!  I can feel the soft breeze and smell the lake air (and the frying trout).

  • Tara

    Nom!  More posts, por favor.

  • itz

    Your photos are so lovely, and your written voice is simply enchanting.