i went to fill my water jug for the day after spending the night in one of the classrooms of the middle school. the students were still on easter break. the last day of classes was marked (like most days during holy week in latin america) by a zealous though rather clumsy water fight. the balloons impatiently filled often burst before being tied and thrown but they left a small rainbow for me.
the uyuni salt flat of bolivia is enormous; almost a hundred miles across. though tens of thousands of tourists visit every year a person can go out in the middle and be completely alone. little islands of cactus and twisted sage rise above the salt floor and supplied fuel to cook my dinners. the police seemed nervous about me going out without a guide. the rescue efforts fall to them when people turn up lost.
most of central and much of south america was just too dangerous to sleep wherever i happened to be when the sun set and so most nights I applied to government, church or private citizen. in bolivia i started camping in lonely places: field, forest and mountain; always looking for the place no one would think to go. The consequences of discovery ranged from hospitality to being robbed and so making a fire to cook by was always a risk. when it was still light the smoke could betray me; when the sun had set the light from the flames.
this snake found judas' shadow and traveled with us for a good ways before i thought i should do something. i didn't think he was poisonous but that doesn't keep the heart from jumping. i stopped judas with a word and sent him to one side to eat. the snake froze until i had set my no zoom camera an inch from his face and then finding himself no longer in the shade, left us for the underbrush.