It’s a bitter cold morning as I pour out of bed fully clothed and into an icy Land Cruiser. I’m barely awake for Spanish invasion ruins and early view points, and I’m wondering why I’m putting myself through this horribleness. We’re not going to shower for three days, and it gets sub zero at night. I want off this shit show. I’m in a foul, stinking mood when I’m unwashed and freezing cold. AKA, most of the time.
We’re not in Bolivia, we’re actually on Mars. The vast red rock landscape stretches for miles, with distant peaks bordering the emptiness. Apparently NASA practices missions here, working in the craters of semi-active volcanoes. It’s like the final scene in Total Recall.
After hours of vast wilderness, we’re pulling into a surreal setting of a hot spring, surrounded by a large lagoon, and peppered with tourist-filled jeeps. Needless to say it’s not taking much for everyone to throw off the warm clothes and stick on a bathing suit. Everyone apart from me that is. Apart from my irrational self consciousness, since the weather started to turn cold back in Cusco I’ve developed my usual seasonal eczema. Only this time it’s much, much worse. Every year around mid October I can tell the season is changing by the reaction on my lower legs. It’s a direct side effect from using the powerful Roaccutain drug for my acne many years ago. Some you win and some you lose. Whether it’s the high altitude or the extreme cold I don’t know, but it’s back with a vengeance, bringing brothers and sisters with it. Consequently I’m in agony as I try to sleep, and I’m not getting into a hot spring for love nor money.
Of course I’m not letting on to anyone the real reason why is that my beer baby is nearly due. There is little to do but feed it at the side of the springs, crack out the guitar and stammer excuses that this is ‘not my scene’. People can guess anything they like as to why I don’t get in, but really I’m becoming more of a mess every day. I need to seek some warmer weather, settle somewhere for a while, get off the booze, and hit the gym. Or, get sauced every night on this trip to fend off the cold. An easy decision to make.
The punters seem to enjoy the usual crowd pleasing set of the only things I can play, including one tall, slim, gorgeous blond girl who smiles away, then has her picture taken by her handsome boyfriend. Still I’m not really in the mood for that kind of thing, which is unlike me, and I’m happy to enjoy the trip for what it is. I’ve been very lucky on a recent trek, and content with that, I’m not going to be thinking with the penis. It’s a refreshing change for all.
Once again we’re in icy accommodations wearing multiple layers as we arrive at our base for the night. We’ve also managed to pick up a few bottles of wine and some beers, so under a small strip light in near darkness, shivering in the cold, we do our best to establish booze blankets, and see out the night with a sing-song. I’m sitting on my own finishing the last of the red wine as everyone eventually retires to bed, but it helps keep my bones from shaking, and I pass out fully clothed when I finally decide to turn in.