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.