November 2016

La Frontera

At the boundary of Bolivia and Argentina at La Quiaca I watched Bolivians* crossing the border by walking down the dirt path, hopping across the river, then climbing up a concrete debris slope into the shadow of some building, while the official border control sits atop on the southern end of the stone bridge. Many of them are locals who carry their goods to trade in the neighboring country – this reminds me of the trade that used to happen in the middle of the Taiwan Strait.

As I walked, at an altitude of 3.4km, under scorching sun, and taking in 30% less oxygen compared to sea level, pass a sign pointing to ‘La Frontera’ with a long line of weary travelers under it, I couldn’t help but think our true frontier shouldn’t be any wall built for the sake of separating people but the one 30km above us in the ozone layer – ultimately this is what keeps us all alive.

* During the 19th and 20th centuries Argentina was the country with the second biggest immigration wave in the world. Nowadays Bolivians still consist of roughly one tenth of Argentina’s population, and they (along with immigrants from neighboring countries) had faced xenophobic campaigns (sounds familiar?) from national/local governments. See


“Here, by the riverbank… I could keep myself busy for months without shifting my position, inclining sometimes more to the right, sometimes more to the left.” Paul Cézanne. 1906.

Cuernos del Paine, Chile