Beard Activity

Andy Returns...

I think that everyone needs to go on a Kerouacian adventure for some time of their lives.

That is what I keep telling myself, in any case. To seek the Dharma across railyards and mountains, trees and pets, saturday morning cartoons and cereal must be the object of our very existence. Truly, more than a simple search for truth, this would be an exercise of truth found. In a class at the University of Utah, we were challenged to take two years and go to some place we we could not only seek, but live out truth as we found it. Having already done this once, it caused me to reflect on what I might do if I could take two more years, return to Bolivia and it's rich culture, to search for meaining in life while leaving behind as many of my male-chauvenist capitalistic pre-concieved notions as possible.

I immediately longed for a return to Bolivia, where I had served two years of religious service and missionary work for my church. Feelings resurfaced so strongly that I felt as I had when boarding the plane to leave that mystic country. Wind-swept hills, an eternal resevoir of sand blast and dust settling above the still-water lagoon where children fished and mothers washed clothes still color my memory with their bland, brown tones. Cholita's in native attire who had not changed with the turbulent world in which they were struggling to exist. I would strap on by pack in the Cochabamba Valley somewhere around the Simon Bolivar Plaza, next to all of the fancy resaurants built for European tourists and American Peace Corp. volunteers, eat a final prepared meal, and set off southeast towards the capitol city/college town of Sucre where I would find evidence of ancient Spanish occupation among the white-washed buildings that too closely line the streets. I could visit old friends I made there and ask about their lives. We could eat saltaenas and fricase, even drink mate with fresh bread. We'd take afternoon naps, leaving us refreshed for an afternoon filled with fubito, more food, and more naps. Underneath the blazing sun we would purchase for ourselves a liter of Coca-Cola (you know, it really does taste different down there) and some crackers and laugh with the matron of the store. After a few days of this routine, I would remember that my time is limited, and that I must continue on my journey. My heart would ache for the mountain ranges that lead to Tarija and it's lush low country like my Bolivian friends would ache to see their American friend leave them again.

These mountains are not for the weak of heart. Southwest of Sucre leads straight up the mountain and around tightly curved roads towards the sad sun-bleached mining city of Potosi. My journey doesn't lead to that sad population. Instead, southeast towards the border of Argentina where the climate and population warms up. I don't know who or what I might experience during those weeks of packing around the moody peaks. Surely small farms and village exist that lay in my ever stretching path. Soon, lighter faces would turn towards mine claiming they were "chapacos" living in "Chapari." Surely more mate and bread would be meted out and adventures would be shared. Laughter and firelight would brighten the dark eyes of the coca farmers yet I would long again for the road and the quiet solitude of my thoughts and my own loneliness.

I would be sure, this time, to take more pictures. On this journey, whatever it is that I need to record I will record on black and white film. I am surely not looking for color, I am looking for contrast.

My hair would bleach blonde. My beard would grow. My eyes would crystalize a deep blue as the haze and distracting toxins are removed from my system. I would study bhuddism, read about Jesus, and write poems and haikus.

No one will recognize this hippy when he gets home.