On Saturday night, locals showed up at Rafael’s house to drink and party: politicians, police, other important people. He got drunk, clearly a way of ingratiating himself with the locals. His delicate arm around my shoulders, Rafael introduced me as “mi hermano perdido,” which means “my long-lost brother.” That was true: during that week we did become like brothers.
But mi hermano perdido could also mean: “my brother who’s lost.” My parents – who were deeply disappointed at my life choices – were sure I’d lost my way.
After a week in La Paz, it was time to move on. I gave Rafael a little package with tabs of LSD, a parting gift for his hospitality and friendship, and told him he could write me care of American Express in Rio and Buenos Aires, the two cities where I intended to spend at least the next six months, if not longer.
Rafael took me to the main La Paz train station. Just before the train took off toward the east, we hugged warmly, both aware, as this world goes, that we’d never see one another again.