Long South American trek winds through Bolivia
June 17, 2007
It’s been nearly a year since Leadville’s Gregg Treinish and Deia Schlosberg began backpacking through South America. Originally heading South from Ecuador to Tierra Del Fuego, the couple took a bus from Peru to Chile in February and began hiking north due to weather concerns.
Treinish and Schlosberg are currently in La Paz, Bolivia, which Treinish has referred to as being near the half-way mark of the long journey. The travelers have been documenting their experiences on wwwroadjunky.com and http://www.steripen.com. Following are a few recent excerpts:
Gregg Treinish ” June 4, 2007
Coming into Bolivia, there was no doubt that we were going to be in for a change. We had long heard that the poorest country in South America was going to present new challenges, difficult navigation without maps, and perhaps the least safe atmosphere of the countries that we have traveled to. At the same time, we were extremely anxious to cross a border, to begin a new country, to feel like we are actually moving along in this adventure. It has been a long time since we have felt that way. On the Appalachian Trail, hikers often experience something called the Virginia Blues. It is simply having hiked for so long already, beginning to feel as if you are not getting anywhere, and that you may never. The Argentinean blues were much the same. We loved Argentina, the people, the food, everything about it had exceeded our expectations. After three and a half months of walking north, we simply needed something to celebrate. Until those very last moments before I saw La Quiaca, the border town, it was still just another far off goal. Climbing over that last hill and finally seeing Bolivia, it was perhaps the first time that we have let ourselves feel proud of what we have accomplished thus far. There were several woo-hoos to be followed by much ridiculous dancing (thanks again to Paul for the show). Suddenly, everything seemed possible. That concrete proof that we have indeed walked far. Man did I need that!
Deia Schlosberg ” June 4
Gregg and I were on a beeline toward Tomave (or where Tomave was supposed to be anyway) over a huge open pampa, when we passed fairly close to a isolated house and accompanying out-structures. One of these structures was a ring of branches serving as a wind block, as inside the ring, a family sat cooking around a fire. As we neared it, all we could see, however, were a sequence of faces popping up over the edge of the ring and then settling back down. We neared to say hi. The mother yelled at us to come join them and sit down, scrambling to get a block and sheep pelt covering for us to share so we didn’t have to sit on the ground. We sat and looked back at about seven faces, five kids ranging from one to twelve and two women. The mother yelled to her eldest son to get bowls and spoons from inside. He ran in the house, leaving the door open to reveal two more kids and some goats on the table. The bowls were immediately filled with soup upon their arrival in the circle and handed to Gregg and I. We protested, not wanting to take their food and wanting to limit our time not hiking. The refusal was refused, outright. We were eating soup, and it was great. We talked with the family (minus the father, who was out working) about what we were doing and about their school and language and learned a few Quechua words (they were obviously completely bilingual), and then received the second course of rice and potatoes and lentils and meat, also without choice, and also excellent. We followed this with a little geography/map and compass session, with our map of Bolivia on the ground and lots of intrigued faces pouring over it and fingers pointing to familiar names and places. We regretted not being able to hang out and talk the rest of the day with them, but we walked away after good-byes feeling like we had been gifted a reminder of what makes this experience what it is: wonderful.
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We have walked at least 3,750 miles thus far, covering more than 27 degrees of the globe. We will be reaching our half-way mark near La Paz in about ten days, and I gotta say that it is unfathomable that we have not yet reached our half way mark. We have experienced so incredibly much, and are almost a year into this. I don’t think that I have yet felt as good about this as I now do. Two weeks after the half way mark we should reach Machu Picchu, two months after that we will arrive where we left off in the Peru, we are planning a short visit with our families before returning to walk into Patagonia. I will be sad to move on from Bolivia, it has been very good to us, however the months ahead are as promising as they have ever been.
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