2007 Bolivia
Home Up La Paz 2007

Postcards from:

California planning
La Paz Bolivia
Camino de la Muerte
Trinidad Bolivia
Santa Cruz Bolivia
Cochabamba Bolivia
Sucre Bolivia
Potosi Bolivia
Uyuni Bolivia
Tiwanaku Bolivia
Back Home in California

Ethnographic Museum masks display: all are representatives of indigenous people of Bolivia.

Camino de la Muerte: We made it through the Camino de la Muerte and head for lunch in the small mountain town of Coroico.

Camino de la Muerte: Close to the worst section of "Deadmans Curve" has been erected a black cross. Near here earlier this year an Israeli student went over the side... goofing off! He'll never make that mistake again!

Sucre-Festival Virgine Guadalupe: One of the dancers posing for photos after the end of their long exhausting marching-dancing ordeal.

Sucre-Festival Virgine Guadalupe: Dancers join in the procession after mass Sunday.

Potosi Bolivia: The major religious procession honoring the Virgin of Guadalupe winds its way through the city.

Potosi Bolivia: Street vendors like this lady are seen everywhere. 

Uyuni Bolivia - Luna Salada Hotel: Photo in the dining room. All furniture is cut from solid blocks of salt. 

Uyuni Bolivia - Luna Salada Hotel: One of the thirteen widely spaced tables in the dining room. All are cut from solid blocks of salt, so heavy they are immovable.


28 August 2007

Greetings from bicamerality,

The wily woolly wanderer is off again. As it is much too hot for the long planned Middle East expedition, I have chosen to renew my exploration of Bolivia and Paraguay. The American Airlines flight for La Paz leaves tomorrow with a brief stop in Miami. I'll get to the bicamerality part in a minute.

On my previous trip through Bolivia I missed what must be the most extraordinary 40 mile stretch of road in the world... and certainly the most dangerous; there are 1 to 6 traffic fatalities per week on the Camino de la Muerte!  I am determined to see the monster. this time with my own eyes up close and personal; carefully, very carefully, of course. Why are some of us so fascinated with unusual places like this? It must be a lot like a moth's attraction to a flickering candle flame as there are plenty of other safer places beckoning. Hillman Wonders of the World for example, presents descriptions of 100 top attractions around the globe. It is amazing how many I have missed, considering all the traveling I do.

This past six months has been a period of intense study. With the help of some crafty bargain hunting on eBay, I have accumulated twenty-three titles published by the Teaching Company: over 330 hours of lectures. My studies have focused on the intellectual development of humanity with special attention to the role of "revealed truths" in the haphazard development of Western civilization. My 70+ years of life experiences have set the stage for insights and understanding unavailable during those hectic years at the University so long ago. It is amazing how this broader and deeper understanding of humanity's efforts to become civilized has changed my perception of current events.
While naturally skeptical as a child, I am even more so now. Much of what the populace uncritically accepts as truth is hogwash, self serving ideas and assertions designed to convince the masses to do the bidding of the invisible power-elite.  The problem is so deeply ingrained in the culture I fear no resolution is possible in our lifetime. Fortunately, every generation produces fearless individuals of good character and intelligence willing to act boldly. Perhaps one day one of these exceptional people will find a way to motivate citizens and governments to always do the right thing. I for one vacillate between blind optimism and debilitating despair. During moments of depression over the state of world affairs I am likely to seek refuge in FreeCellPro while listening to some of the great classical music now freely available over the Internet.

The perennial conflict between religion and science, between the rational and irrational aspects of human nature is a fascinating subject. Gentle faith and passionate reason both seem to be essential aspects of a healthy human being. Even the most rational scientists have wonderful emotional experiences, fleeting moments of awe
that have a significant impact on the quality of their lives. Can that be anything other than evidence for an inborn spiritual dimension of our being? Few would wish to extinguish it. Yet, when adopted as an exclusive rational for living, it is easy to overlook many of the enormous fruits of humanity's past intellectual endeavors. I know several Christian fundamentalists who use computers, and I have never seen electronic data processing machines even mentioned in any of the ancient holy books. Knowledge based exclusively on ancient "revealed truths" can blind us to the benefits of cumulative human development in the secular realm. Most ancient mysteries no longer require mythical explanations. Reason and evidence are not the enemy. If there is a conflict between evidence and faith, beliefs need to be reinterpreted!

I have long wondered if people could not be persuaded to adopt a state of mind capable of embracing both reason and faith at the same time without being immobilized by the resulting anxiety. Some years ago the concept of the bicameral mind received a good deal of public attention. Recently, I have revisited the literature and discovered the idea still provokes serious academic attention. Princeton University's Julian Jaynes  spent his entire professional life studying human consciousness, culminating in his compelling theory, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. His controversial arguments go a long way toward explaining the overpowering appeal of religious beliefs throughout the world, especially the most extreme forms of fundamentalism. Speaking of fundamentalism, if you missed the excellent three part mini-series entitled, "God's Warriors," you might want to watch for a rerun on CNN. Whatever your faith you will find the similarities among extremists in all three Abrahamic religions striking and thought provoking. Religious extremism may be the most profound challenge facing our generation.

While in Bangkok last time I bought a  WiFi Skype phone. It works like a cell phone whenever I happen to be in the vicinity of a hot spot... something increasingly common near international hotels. Don't be surprised if you get a call from some strange gringo in Bolivia. The calls cost me nothing!

Now on to some last minute packing for a 6AM down-the-mountain bus appointment. More to come in a future postcard... if I survive the "Death Road!"


Fred L Bellomy


Sucre-Festival Virgine Guadalupe: One of the young dances in the colorful parade around the Plaza 25 de Mayo.

Uyuni Bolivia: Part of the outdoors Railroad Museum near the tracks and center of town.

Uyuni Bolivia - Luna Salada Hotel: One of the variations of the surface out in the salt flats






La Paz Bolivia Musium of Modern Art: Paintings on exhibit.

Parade in La Paz: 100 year anniversary of the founding of American University.

Santa Cruz Bolivia: Sidewalks are almost always cluttered with vendors like this one.

Cochabamba: Sunday market south of Aroma Street offers every imaginable product. This little tot caught my attention and after a half dozen tries I managed this photo.

Cochabamba: The little tot in the previous photo caught my attention and after a half dozen tries I managed a photo. Mama and big sister found my efforts amusing and wanted to see the camera... SNAP, got 'cha.

Sucre-Festival Virgine Guadalupe: Some of the dancers in their colorful costumes posing for photos after the end of their marching-dancing ordeal.

Potosi Bolivia: Lady who spoke some English and I with my little Spanish had a protracted discussion about hand soap she had for sale. When asked if I might take her picture she replied her hair and clothes were not right for a photo... oops, my camera clicked before she was ready! ... a charming lady. 

Uyuni Bolivia: Part of the outdoors Railroad Museum near the tracks and center of town.

Tiwanaku Bolivia: Sign at the entrance to the museum

Tiwanaku Bolivia: One of the many active dig sites. Work is slow and carefully monitored by roaming archaeologists.

Tiwanaku Bolivia: Deformed skulls found during the excavations

Reference photo: author
 August 2002

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