Monday, September 05, 2005

I traveled by train across the whole of the Altiplano of the Bolivian Andes. I had the chicken in the dining car before finding a seat to myself in one of the cars rolling on the rails through the night. I was able to stretch out somewhat. A woman sat down across from me and started talking in Aymara to me. I answered in Spanish that I did not understand Aymara and her speech transitioned into Spanish. She told me that I was embarking on a long journey. My mother held a baby to her breast and sang softly and prayed aloud. I saw the hope in her eyes. I saw a young boy walking across a desert into a forest and into a jungle and into a city and an old man in the desert with wrinkles on his face and a child in a swing. All of this was in Spanish narration because I realized that no voices could be heard. I told the woman that I was cold and she said it's because you have no blanket and I saw my wife swollen with child as a blanket was draped over me. She looked at me and said, "you feel empty but you are full. You feel abandoned but you are fufilled". I could not take my eyes off this woman. She was what I can only describe as a handsome woman. She had a very proud look to her and an aura that was calming. She spoke to me during the night and I cannot recall the words but the calming effect stays with me still.

The train coming to a stop at the salt flats of Uyuni jolted me awake. A voice across from me said, "you slept well amigo". It was the conductor. "What happened to the woman who was sitting here?" I asked. "Woman? There was no woman. I was sitting here all night. You are in MY seat so I sat here." I looked at the end of the bench seat and it said. "Conductor" I realized the blanket that had kept me warm all night was gone. The woman had been a dream. I stepped off the train in the freezing morning and saw a woman walking away from the train. A woman draped with a blanket.

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