Drifters,

Potosí’s altitude had gotten the best of me. I retreated to Cochabamba, where I’d spend a few days recovering. The air in Cochabamba was still thin for my standards, but arriving felt like I had been giving an oxygen mask coming from Potosí. My headache and confusion seemingly evaporated as I walked under the blue skies of Bolivia’s City of Eternal Spring.

I made it to the city’s main square. It was buzzing with life. Overhead, a flock of wild parrots had landed in trees. And here, in the plaza below, family and friends met on benches to chat, a troupe of blind street performers played music for an enthralled audience, and a gang of skaters rumbled over the square’s rough pavers, sending a flock of spooked pigeons into the sky.

The gang was ImillaSkate, Bolivia’s all-women skateboarding “cholitas.”

A North American film followed the skaters, asking the women to do tricks for the camera and choreographing their moves. They were working on an advertisement for Samsung Galaxy smartphones.

I watched on until, at one moment, there was a break in filming.

The skaters and I spoke about the possibility of meeting in a few days for a photoshoot. But it never happened.

By the time I reconnected with them, I was in the next city over, in Quillacollo, trying to find a shaman to perform a ritual for a dying friend on the Hill of the Skull.


My photobook memoir The Hill of the Skull launches on Kickstarter in 10 days. Please help me spread the word by sharing the link with your friends via email or on social media.

-J