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Volcano Soup – Potosi, Bolivia

granted, it IS considered to be a touristy thing.

but a touristy thing for Bolivians.

which ain’t touristy for me.

and even though a lot of restaurants offer it, there was said to be only one that does it properly.

mmmm.

bolivia ’12

Bolivian Mines

as shown in the heartbreaking film ‘The Devil’s Miner’, life as a Bolivian Miner begins at ages you wouldn’t believe.

and usually ends before the miner turns 40.

on the outskirts of Potosi, lies a mountain famed for taking those lives.

a group of us and a guide – a previous miner who managed to escape that lifestyle, took us into the beast.

to deliver gifts to the men inside.

to play with dynamite.

and to pay respects to Tio – The Devil, and guardian of all those who enter.

a queen and country – show six [from bolivia]

1. Negro Palma – ‘Negrito Gris’

2. Grupo Bolivia – ‘Nostalgias’

3. Kala Marca – ‘Ama Sua, Ama Llula, Ama Kella’

4. El Violin Chucaro – ‘Chacarera Pa Mis Viejos’

5. Awatinas – ‘Kullaquitas’

6. Llajtaymanta – ‘Piensala Para Casarte’

7. Boliviana Traditional – ‘Morenada’

8. Proyeccion – ‘Por Que Te He Querido’

9. Enrriqueta Ulloa – ‘Chaco Soy’

10. Dalmiro Cuellar – ‘Vuelve’

[end]

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street snacks – jamon sandwiches [bolivia]

this isn’t so much a snack tip, per se, but a tip on snacks.

Bolivia – as mentioned – has great snacks. some of the best.

and in the same market where I stuffed myself with the daily chorizo was a jamon sandwich stand.

fresh bread, good jamon, veggies from the same market and a plethora of condiments.

but no cheese.

I didn’t understand this. is a jamon e queso so different from jamon solamente?

apparently so – no cheese.

but I found the cheese lady a few shops down.

and for $0.20, she’d cut up the local stuff [think a mix between a mild chedder and feta] and complete the add on.

so – should you find yourself in Bolivia, and in need/want of a good sandwich, know you’ll have to go to two places to complete the order.

but at $1.20, it’s kind of/sort of worth it.

street snacks – k’alaphurka [bolivia]

brother, I love me some soup. in fact, in finding this photo, I ran into about 10 other street snacks that I hadn’t written about yet – a large majority of them being soup. I love soup… and they do a good soup down here in South America.

that was all said to say this:

what you’re looking at is the best soup I ever had. to the point where I walked out and down a few blocks before turning right around and ordering a second one. by that time, it had all sold out [no tourists – all locals] and I was sad. because it was the perfect soup.

when I first heard about this – Volcano Rock Soup – I did think it to be something for the gringos. like snake blood in Thailand or what have you. but – loving soup as much as I do, I made the trek to the outskirts of Potosi, Bolivia to try it.

a waiter brings over what you’re seeing now, but cold. he tells you to wait and disappears into the kitchen, coming right back out with a smoldering rock held with tongs. you’re asked to scoot back in your seat and he drops it in. the soup immediately comes to a boil and smells of all things good and delicious.

and tastes even better.

inside the lava is chicharron [fried pork] and k’alaphurka – a yellow hearty soup. some corn is thrown in, a few more spices, a handful of pork crackling and there you go.

served with a dark brown beer.

and the best part? it’s for breakfast.

it meant so much to me, I even got you the business card, should you ever be in the area… and by ‘area’, I mean within 200 miles.

down the Bolivian Death Road on a mountain bike.

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an average of one death per 1.5 days.

so dangerous is this road to bike that you choose your tour guide by finding out who has had the least amount of fatalities.

street snacks – chorizo sandwich [bolivia]

lemme tell you something – if you haven’t figured it out by now…

I love Bolivia.

for many reasons, but mostly because I had no idea what was in store. from the photos and videos, I’m sure you’ll see why, but with every city, I found something special.

especially in the town of Potosi.

we’ll get into my love of the local markets in a later, much bigger video, but as soon as I walked in, I smelled the it…

the chorizo.

and I love a good sausage. love, love, love… wait ’till you see some posts from Berlin later this year.

anyway, yes – Bolivian chorizo is some of the finest around.

they’ll serve it to you on noodles, with rice – however you like.

me – I love a good sandwich. and at $1 a pop, I loved it even more.

just enough spice for a kick, but nothing too overpowering. fresh local pork. lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise [they love their mayo here] and you’re set.

so good.

 

my new show on the BBC.

a year or so ago, I got a call from the BBC. they wondered if I had any ideas for a new show, so I sent ’em a few. one of them got picked up for 5 episodes.

it’s called ‘Treasure Hunters‘ [original, I know…] and we filmed the first season in South America.

they’re listed below, with links and a few production notes.

 

Argentina

1. Buenos Aires, Argentina [watch it here]. a long time ago, one man brought tango into the mainstream, with one startling act. in this, the first episode, I traveled to almost every neighborhood in B.A. in search of a 100+ year old record. what you don’t see in this was the constant rain, which hampered filming horrendously. when I’m sitting in the cafe, the sound is barely recognizable because it was pissing down outside. the man playing at the beginning of the show is famous, but he didn’t want me to talk about that. and the record store owner, Paco, turned out to give one of the best interviews I had on this trip, and basically carried the show. I got lucky.

 

Bolivia_22. La Paz, Bolivia [watch it here]. this was my favorite one in the entire series. half of that stems from Bolivia being my favorite place in South America, the other half being that this was black magic, something I’m obsessed with [learning about]. the treasure was good luck, but in the tangible form, so I travel from witch to shaman and back. hit with a discouraging fortune, dead llamas and a gorgeous [photo above] ceremony. and I still carry the treasure around with me.

 

Colombia

3. Bogota, Colombia [watch it here]. at one point, near the end, I border on losing my shit. this was the final episode we shot, and it all kind of came crashing down – but in a good way. remember my show on National Geographic? the one where I start crying after the Grand Canyon? same here. I suddenly realize I’m standing on the edge of the lake that launched the world’s biggest treasure hunt, El Dorado, and it’s me talking about it. on a show. for the BBC. to say it was ‘special’ doesn’t seem to do it justice. per behind-the-scenes, I went to this lake with my friend Jessica, who helped immensely. the expert at the beginning of the film was also my landlord, which seriously helped cover the cultural end of it. this is also a treasure I carry with me.

 

Ecuador4. Montecristi, Ecuador [watch it here]. this was the viewer’s favorite. it was also the first one I shot. perhaps it was the most popular because it was short, simple, but with a twist – of sorts. the town was a sad one, but the hat I left with is one I’ll pass down to my nephew. a funny side note is that I filmed all of these [save for asking strangers to hold the camera] myself. so if you notice in the walking shots, I’m looking out of the corner of my eye to make sure no one stole my camera.

 

Chile5. Valparaiso, Chile [watch it here]. this one was the most stressful, and one that I only got through because I have a dear friend who lives here. stressful because after filming in Ecuador, I got trapped at the border because of some riots so violent that they closed down the border [more on that in another post]. and then it was 30 hours of bus rides [one I got caught with coca leave on, and questioned by the police]. so then, finally, I arrive here and begin filming… only to get caught in another massive riot. I was stuck here for two weeks, with barely enough money to eat. but thanks to my friend, who happens to own a guesthouse, he refused any money and sent me on my way with a full belly.

 

 

… and that’s it, the first season. there might be a second one, there might not.

but I’m proud to have done it, to have gotten it out there.

I had an idea.

I made that idea work.

and it aired on the world’s biggest network.

so yeah…

I’ll take it.

 

 

new this week – may 17th

oh, I’ve been naughty about not updating this section. apologies. being on the road for National Geographic [didn’t know if you’d heard or not… ahem] has been nuts – but that’s no excuse.

here’s what’s been posted since the hacking, which is turning into an interesting story in itself:

videos

snacks [los angeles] – admittedly, I’m not a huge el lay fan, but my gosh… the snacks are amazing. I visit my top 3.

the best pisco sour I ‘ever had – the above got me in a delicious mood, so I posted my favorite bartender in Peru making the most famous cocktail in Peru. and then proceeded to have 4.

eastern state penitentiary – hands-down, the best place to visit in all of America. I kid not. been there 7 times now. haunted.

the shanghai [exile] diaries [part two and three] – we head North of Bangkok to Sukothai and then Chiang Mai.

bolivian mines – they start at 13, they die before 40. we take a tour of the wet, dirty and cursed mines of Potosi.

podcasts

tracks 4 – five more songs you need to hear… at least I think so.

rough sundays 4 [from mississippi] – some proper gospel, Delta blues and even some Brazilian thrown in.

tracks 5 [must have albums] – we review my favorite 3 albums of this past trip to South America.

[note: an amazing Chilean show is being edited as we speak – look for that soon]

photos

o.p.p. 1o – such humor! and from the late 50’s!

ecuador ’12 – my least favorite country in all of south america. but gorgeous in a drab filtered photo.

o.p.p. 11 – one of my favorites in this collection.

seattle ’11 [iPhone] – this city caught me by surprise. and it won’t be my last time back. love their food, beer.

o.p.p. 12 – ah, the joys of one’s first cable car ride in San Francisco. in the 60’s.

western australia ’11 – way out there. dull. but it’s where the wine comes from.

o.p.p. 13 – who knew cereal would make such a great postcard?

peru ’12 – magic. soulful. hard to explain, but I tried.

and… writings.

snacks [montevideo] – I couldn’t afford the meat platter. nor could I have finished it.

newsboy – I feel like we don’t talk much anymore.

snacks [Tim Tam’s] – best. cookie. ever. and look what those Aussies do with it!

… so that’s it. I’ll try to be more diligent about this in the future.

massive news coming your way very, very soon.

stick close.

I love you.

-a