Dio was everything a chef should be.
Firstly, there was the name. I never managed to catch what it was short for (nicknames were used widely in this house, and my Spanish skills leave a lot to be desired unless everyone around me is speaking very slowly) but in my head, it was Dionysus, the god of excess and hedonism.
Dio was not a small guy. He wasn’t fat, he was just big, in a way which commanded the whole kitchen. The massive pots and pans we’d use to cook lunch for an entire income of customers seemed like the right sizes in his capable hands. He spoke not a word of English but chatted with, or at, me in Spanish anyway, regardless of whether or not I understood, as I washed plates.
My time in La Paz was a mixed bag of grey skies and criss-crossing metropolis roads. It was a shock to the system after the luscious mystery of the jungle. I worked hard (and enjoyed the food) in the vegetarian restaurant, in the same house that I was living in, but I struggled to integrate what had been such a special experience surrounded by nature into a very urbanised setting.
To trust in the process, though, was something my time in the jungle and with Ayahuasca had taught me, and so I waited to see what my time in La Paz would bring.
It brought me adventures to Copacabana and Urmiri, shadowing the shaman that I was living with (more on him in the next post). It brought me friendship with the lovely Monica, who I would be traveling through Bolivia with (again, more on this in a future post).
I spent my days sitting in the car with the shaman who’s house I was staying in. We talked about the world and about darkness and I asked him questions about his work with energies and medicinal plants.
I learnt a lot during my stay with him, and I think even helped to heal him a little, too. But more on that next time.
[N.B. I know this is a short post. Stay tuned for a much longer one next time, in the form of a short story I am currently working on!]