Now then, it’s a very big house with lots of space and, sometimes, I stay over. I get to pretend I’m 15 years old again (Yay! Mom, can I sleep over? Please?) Ok… I stopped asking permission that way probably when I was 13. But I think my point is clear. And, in case it isn’t, my point is that I spend entirely more time in the neighborhood of Llojeta than any reasonable human being probably should. That I spend most of that time cooped up in a nice house playing video games and watching Steven Seagal movies on a 40 inch Sony Bravia, doesn’t completely mask the fact that Llojeta is not a nice place to be… All the time.
But I’m not here to talk about how much Llojeta sucks. That may be the general thrust of this series, but I want to focus on something else. For reasons that will become very apparent, this blog goes well with Feel So Good. Embedded – as you damn well know – at the bottom of this page.
Thing is… I want to tell you about Ninja Lady and her corner store. She’s not an actual ninja, far as I can tell. She’s a Christian or a Mormon or a Christian Mormon Who Believes In The Power Of Jesus or maybe just plain old ordinary Catholic. The point being, she believes in God and His son Jesus. That is not a bad thing… Whatever works, as they say, and stay out of my way. But Ninja Lady is annoying for another reason. First of all, take a look at this. This is the store and it’s around the corner from Ram’s house.
Now, apart from the fact that this is a hideous building (Didn’t you hear? The Russell Stover raspberry/blueberry fudge combo went out in, like, 1997 – or perhaps earlier) I think it’s pretty clear to see that the store is closed.
Yeah… Well… It’s always like that.
Not literally always. But, basically, it breaks down like this: Ram and I get off the bus and walk towards his house. On the way, we see that Tienda Bazar Libreria is open. The gate is up… And we can see that, somewhere in the back, Ninja Lady is sitting behind the counter with her radio on listening to Marcos Witt. Who? He’s the Mexican easy-listening equivalent of, say, Carman. And if you don’t know who that is, look him up on YouTube because I’m not going to do it for you. I can safely say that Carman will never be a listening suggestion for one of these blogs. Not even if I’m trying to be cheeky like with Passionate Kisses, which is actually a nice feel good song and better than anything performed by Carman. Simply put, I’d embed The Third Day (and I might, eventually) before I’d embed Carman. And that has nothing to do with religion. I’m not religious… But Carman sucks even if I was.
They both suck.
Anyway, back to the story… We see the store is open as we pass. We arrive to Ram’s house. I go over to his bull terrier Butch and punch him in the face while calling him my bitch (this is ritual, you understand). Then we go inside and notice that we’re out of Coke and we are thirsty. (As I wrote that, I realized what that sounded like… I don’t mean that coke. I mean Coke.)
Okay. Literally 7, maybe 8, minutes have passed. We go back to Tienda Bazar Libreria and see that it is now closed. The time is 3:27pm.
Does that make any sense to you? It’s not even Sunday.
So we have to go all the way down to the avenue to see if there are any other open stores… And there are. But not so conveniently located. And then, later in the evening, we see that TBL is open again.
And that’s why we call her Ninja Lady. Because she does things in the blink of an eye and there is an air of mystery to her. But not the kind of mystery you want to discover… Not Who Killed Laura Palmer? Or Who Shot JR? (Or Mr. Burns, for that matter) Or What Is The Circumference? Where’s Waldo? Not that kind of mystery…
Just the arbitrary mystery of What The FUCK! Does Ninja Lady Do That She Needs To Open And Close Her Store At Odd Hours?
That’s not the kind of cliffhanger that insures you tune in next season. So fuck Ninja Lady. I don’t know what Jesus would do. But I say fuck Ninja Lady.
Which brings me to the tangent of how much I miss the convenience of American consumerism.
Xmas came and went (it does that) and so we were all concerned with the true meaning of Xmas… Which is to spend money so we can buy things for ourselves and our loved ones – to show how much we love them as much as we love ourselves.
Because nothing says “I love you” more than an expensive gift. A piece of stereo equipment, a Playstation 3, a widescreen Sony plasma… these things say: “I love you very much.” A DVD box set, a videogame, good music CDs… these things say “I love you.” A book, a funny page-a-day calendar, a really cool item of clothing… these things say: “I think you’re cool.” Flowers, a knick-knack or a box of chocolates… you may as well say: “Fuck you.”
And all these things I mentioned? The cool things. Not the fucking chocolates or knick-knacks… The cool things? Impossible to come by down here. Oh, the equipment? Sure… Just go up to the black market and you’ll find most of that stuff at decent prices. Except video game systems. They may as well shove a hot poker up your ass with that one. Nintendo Wii – 450 dollars. You follow?
But, basically, if you want a DVD box set, an actual videogame, music CD… All we have are bootlegs. Oh, there are import houses where you can go and they will order you original items through Amazon.com or Ebay or what have you. But what that usually means is that you’ll end up paying 47 dollars for a copy of Chinese Democracy.
Haven’t been back home in 2 years. I used to spend half the year in NY and half the year here. But now I am severely out to pasture as far as keeping up with my materialistic consumer needs.
This may change in a couple of months when I get my corporate credit card (No. I have no intention of impressing you). Then I’ll just order shit on Amazon and have it shipped down to me… But I’ll still have to deal with the customs officials at the La Paz post office that want to charge me 5 dollars tax on that copy of Infinite Jest because it weighs a fucking ton.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that, as far as I’m concerned…
…is as true a representation of the Bolivian shopping experience as you’re likely to find for an anal-retentive collector consumer geek such as myself. So maybe it’s Ninja Lady’s way of making a conceptual artistic statement.
Yeah… Fuck Ninja Lady.