Posts by miro:
By Miro Siegel
During our 6 week stay in La Paz we were invited to take part in a tour focused on the different teleferrico lines and the history behind them and the city below
Our tour guide was named Damien and he’s a certified doctor in the city of La Paz. He was incredibly knowledgeable in Bolivian history, cablecar mechanics, government practice, witches and their practices and much more. He was an amazing guide.
And a Renaissance man of sorts.
The Teleferrico tour took us all over La Paz; we traveled up the Red, Green and Yellow line, which took us to some intriguing places of interest, such as the Cementerio or the prison of San Pedro. It provided some great insight to the history of Bolivia and La Paz, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested.
Here’s the follow up interview my mom did with Damian from HanaqPacha Travel.
If you are interested in booking a tour with HanaqPacha Travels, please contact them using the info below. Be sure to tell them that you are a “worldschooler” for a very special offer!
Calle Jaen #734
Café MagicK– A Review by Miro Siegel
So for our first week here in La Paz, my mom and I stayed in a beautiful little cafe in Sopocachi named Café MagicK. The place doubles as a quaint hotel, chilled atmosphere cafe and cultural center by night. On top of all of these wonderful things the staff is always more than friendly and during our stay, the owners helped us immensely, giving us information about the city and what to do. In fact when our week reservation was up, we stayed another week. Then, you might have noticed, my mom and I traveled around Bolivia and then we came back here for our last week. So if that’s not an endorsement, I don’t know what is.
I’m going to go ahead and list the strong points:
The food is absolutely remarkable, and the menu is incredibly varied. Salads, pastas, and curries (among many other things) are offered and each one is prepared perfectly. Most days there are lunch menus offered which include a hearty soup, a main dish, a drink and a nice desert. Staying in the same building as the restaurant was almost dangerous.
Café MagicK boasts an astoundingly relaxed atmosphere, as there’s always some form of ambient music playing, and the furniture and decoration choices compliment it nicely.
Upstairs there is a lounge area always glowing with candlelight and situated with many cushions and fabrics. It’s an amazing place to chill out and enjoy the scene.
The Cafe is located in the district of Sopocachi, the ‘bohemian’ district of La Paz. Just one block away is the Plaza Avaroa, a lovely park surrounded by restaurants of many different kinds, galleries, sidewalk cafes and it’s walking distance from the Teleferrico (cable car) service. The night life in the area is also very vibrant.
It’s not uncommon to walk down into the cafe and see some form of cultural event happening, such as salsa lessons or film screenings, early morning yoga to night time live music. There’s always something happening in the space of the cafe and the doors are always open. (unless reserved for a private event.)
Overall I felt great about staying at MagicK. Not only are all of these things available to enjoy, but the people working the cafe (and even the owners) are all so nice and exude an air of kindness, and they’ll make sure you have a nice stay in La Paz.
When we return to La Paz, we’re coming back.
Presbitero Medina n°2526, Esquina Pedro Salazar,
Zona Sopocachi, La Paz, Bolivia
T: +591 77553535
T: +591 (2) 2910625
Viracocha and the grand lake, Lake Titicaca
A Short Story By Miro Siegel
From darkness I birthed the world, and from my likeness I brought life to men. From my inner fire I kindled the stars, and from my grief I wrought rain. I yearned to give all to my children.
I birthed them into darkness, so they could comprehend the void from which they came, and the uncertainty of their existence. It unsettled them greatly to gaze into the outer infinity, and soon they asked for the light of day.
I channeled my purest joy into the sun, more than content to enlighten them. By the luminosity of my sun I could see the families they had formed and the love that had been forged. The people were prosperous but not forgetting. I illuminated their world, but the light they sheltered brightened my consciousness.
It wasn’t long before they requested respite from the unending day; the crops that had once grown so well now shriveled under the heat of my elation. With a sense of deeply rooted melancholy I ordered the sun to move across the sky and push with it the cogs of time. From my desolation I crafted the moon to watch over my children when I was out of sight.
For many years they loved me unconditionally as their father. They worshiped me and did as I say, and heeded my furious warnings when they were bellowed. I demanded that they live in peace, and above all else I demanded that they never forgot their origin.
But arrogance is insidious, and soon my people began to dismiss all that I have done for them. Time and time again I tried to mend our relationship and reconnect with my sons and daughters, but the separation was now too vast. They rejected me.
And from their rejection I cried. I sobbed and weeped until storms and downpours flowed from my cheeks, flooding the world below. I heard them call to me, to beg for forgiveness and to pray for safety.
But I could not stop my sorrow. They had forgotten me and disobeyed me, and I knew what I must do…
I will cleanse this world with my woe, and with waters that overturn the land.
And before long the world was a blue speck in the cosmos, and I submerged myself in the great lake, to rest my weary body. I will rest here, dormant but mindful. I will never forget.
Please read our series: Worldschooling adventure on Lake Titicaca, Bolivia
Read Part 2 – The birthplace of the sun, Isla del Sol
Planning a trip Bolivia?
Contact Daniella or Omar at the Travel Store Bolivia to have them help you design your custom trip.
Book Presentation and Discussion in La Paz, Regarding Indigenous Freedom and Rights
by Miro Siegel
When my mom and I first arrived in La Paz, we received an invitation to attend a discussion and book presentation held in the Vice-President’s Hall about many topics ranging from philosophy, to politics, to indigenous rights and modern mindsets. It was highly enlightening and it gave me a better view of the Bolivian government’s stance on materialism, spirituality and Andean mysticism.
On the panel was a famous writer, Fernando Huanacuni Mamani, a government ministry official of defense, Dr. Reymi Ferreira, and a well-spoken Bolivan philosopher, Rafael Bautista. Each had the stage for about an hour and they mainly spoke of the danger of occidental materialism and of the disparity of connected-ness to the earth below. They spoke of cultural evolution and suggested the abandonment of a classist and racist society, and also spoke a little of quantum physics and reflection of state of mind in life.
The audience was rather heterogeneous; there were indigenous spectators clad in local attire, to suit adorned dignitaries from many countries. The doors were open to anyone who cared to enter, and due to the high numbers of cameramen I assume the function was aired on national television.
It was an amazing experience and I’m glad I could have attended it.
By Miro Siegel
Greetings readers! I know it’s been quite some time since the last post, and for that I am sorry, but my mother and I have been very busy in our endeavors, and our schedule fell to the wayside. But now that we’re on the road again and traveling once more, I feel incredulously inspired to return to the blog!
Where are we traveling you may ask? In Bolivia, the land of Bolivars ideals and home to La Paz, the highest capital in the world. We’ve only been here for about a week now, but already I can say that I have fallen in love with this country. We’ve visited many iconic places here in La Paz, such as the innovative Teleferrico systems, the witches market, and the valley of the moon, but what I’m interested in talking about today is some of the governmental buildings we saw a few days ago, and more notably, the counter-clockwise nature of the congress building clock tower.
When we noticed it at first we decided to ask a few locals in the area, (street vendors, photographers, street performers) and they all had the same response: “It’s counter-clockwise because we’re in the southern hemisphere.”
Peculiar, right? But after some research I found an article online (which is linked here) that had the answers to some of the questions I posed.
Well, basically the change was made for symbolism’s sake, so the Bolivian government could show it’s people that they’re proud of their ‘southernness’ and Andean heritage. It’s an effort to re-discover some of the countries lost culture, and to find Bolivia’s way.
So, in a sense the denizens of La Paz that we asked were correct. It was because we are in South America, but not exactly for the reasons they thought.
Very interesting, very interesting indeed; time is one of the most symbolic concepts available to man-kind, and by changing the way it flows, the Bolivian government made a pretty large statement.
That’s all, folks, And please expect more updates from us as we see more of Bolivia!
A short story by Miro Siegel
We had rolled into the storm over night; an indefatigable maelstrom it was, pummeling and destructing our small, antiquated journeymans vessel and striking down the shaky fire in our hearts. We saw a land mass out in the distance, however even my most junior of crew knew that this distant boon was as unattainable as the stars above. The wood began to crumble under the immense pressure of the ocean, and as footing grew progressively less steady, men began to topple over the side of bow. Some even fell straight through the once sturdy foundation, falling into the rolling void below, never to be seen again as they rapidly became consumed by the insatiable lust of the abyss, and the unthinkable horrors therein.
With one final push, the ship collapsed in on itself and began its slow descent to its final resting place; the densely populated shipyard. A dark, deathly place, where not even the light of the sun can illuminate the suffocating blackness. A place where many voyages have ended, and where the ghouls of the sailors have nothing to haunt, except the minnows when they seldom do come.
I saw one of my men get crushed in between the mast of the boat, and like a bear trap, he was left incapacitated, squirming in the decaying structure of the once buoyant transport as it dragged him into the seemingly bottomless reality below, where otherworldly beings rest without fear of the spasmodic assault of humanity. I saw the fear in his eyes, the pleading, inane denial. He was attempting to negotiate with every deity he knew of, but they all frowned upon him, for after all you can’t cheat death. His head sunk with the rest of the ship.
I had accepted my fate. I was to plummet into the depths with the men who had entrusted me with their lives. For the poor, young men I had led to death, I would be captain once again, this time however, our expedition was down the river of Styx. I clenched the helm one last time as I felt the cold, murky water envelope my body and weigh down my coat.
I awoke not in the blackened nether of the underworld, but in a dimly lit alcove in a dank cabin. A small woman in the corner of the room noticed my lucidity and quickly came to my side.
“Where is this?” I asked her, still feeling uneasy despite the steady foundation of solid land.
“This is the port town of Dhoruba.” She responded. Noticing my puzzled face, she continued. “You’ve never heard of it?”
I shook my head. “What happened to me?”
“You washed onto shore gripping a piece of debris from your ship. You’re fortunate to be alive, grievous injuries and all.”
I looked down and examined my body. As the caretaker had said, I had many egregious wounds; a massive incision on my arm, a rather colorful set of bruises on my legs, and a horrible laceration running up my chest.
“Were there any others found?”
She shook her head. It was a question that didn’t need to be asked, (the several other beds in the structure were empty) but I did anyways.
“If fortune truly smiled upon me, she would have let me meet my end with the others.”
I made a motion to get out of bed and the nurse tried to stop me. “Please mister, you must rest. Your injuries are beyond grave.”
“My life ended along with the ship and her crew. I would be blessed if my abrasions proved fatal.” I muttered as I shook her off and shambled to the door. I dropped my once coveted gold pendant on the table by the door as a symbol of gratitude, sure that it would prove to be substantial payment. It once shimmered and shined but now it only pulsed like strangled dreams.
Twentysix men left this mortal coil last night, but a fate worse than death is to live a life bereft of meaning or significance. Such was the life I was currently living. Aimlessly, I shuffled down the muddy cobblestone road, hoping to encounter some sort of break in the ever present malevolence.
The storm raged on even now, and more than once the virulent soil underfoot sucked and grabbed at my boots. By the time I had reached the docks of this unceremonious port town, my legs were covered in the earths unrelenting assault, and if it wasn’t difficult enough to traverse these streets with battered knees, less than advantageous circumstances ensured it.
I stood on the docks overlooking the ocean for some time. The storm showed no signs of ending anytime soon. I inched closer to the edge of the pier cautiously, in fear of the forceful gales that might overthrow me if I were too reckless, and there I remained, standing on the precipice of the deep blue oblivion in which I should be resting bloated and oblonged.
Seemingly rendered furious by my reflection, the storm increased in severity, forcing me to take shelter in a muggy tavern just off the promenade. It was a depressive scene; the facilities, while suggesting that it was once almost opulent, now was left in a state of depressing decay. The place smelled of cheap alcohol. I approached the keeper of this heterogenous den and pressed one of my last pieces of value on the counter; a heavy, solid gold coin. It garnered the custodians attention and I began to speak.
“How long has this storm been tormenting this town?” I asked him.
“For longer than even the most astute historians would care to remember.” He murmured. “For the denizens of Dhoruba, the storm is a part of our daily lives, and has been for countless generations.”
“Can’t be good for business.” I muttered under my breath.
The innkeepers face was one of much honesty, however in his eyes I detected something that can only be described as some other worldly corruption.
“Can you direct me to the place where I can purchase passage out of this gray, bleak town?”
“Such a place does not exist. There are no vessels in this town capable of braving the furious seas ahead.”
“What about land transport? Surely there must be caravans or convoys capable of taking on another passenger.”
“Dhoruba is nestled in the valley between the steepest mountains this side of the earth. Forget about foot travel, let alone wagon travel. Mister… Excuse me, what is your name?”
“Mister Duessel, you’re the first outsider to come into this town for eighty odd years.”
“And it looks like I’m not going anywhere any time soon. Show me to a room.” I said while tapping the coin on the bar shelf.
“Certainly.” He exclaimed as he led me up the stairs to one of the chambers. The banister was rotting and I nearly tumbled down the steps.
The room was simple if a little antiquated, but it would do. I handed him the coin. “This should more than cover my cost.”
He snatched it quickly from my hand. “Yes, Mr. Duessel. You’re free to stay as long as you wish.”
He left the room and I quickly clasped the deadbolt of the door to the wall and got into bed. The nurse was right in her assumption, what I needed most was rest. I slowly descended into the depths of sleep, a place where only the pale faces of the drowned and maimed reign.
I awoke from an uneasy dream in a start when the lightning struck and the thunder loomed overhead like an emissary of doom. The gates of slumber were now closed to me (as I had slept deep into the night), so I decided to depart from my blighted dwelling and explore the austere slums in the adjoined neighborhood.
Trying to leave out of the main entrance was futile, as the large decaying doors were padlocked shut. After some time of searching, I uncovered a door leading to the back alley hiding behind a stack of ale barrels. I shoved them aside and exited through the doorway. I made sure to close the door behind me; while I doubt there’s anything worth burglarizing inside, the rain holds space for no one, and if the inn wasn’t plagued by legions of mold already, the relentless downpour would undoubtedly provide it.
I began to wander again, not quite sure what I was searching for but certain that I was pursuing something of indescribable value. As I trekked up a grim side street, I saw many curtains and clothes obscure the dim light from the windows as I passed, and many a judgemental glance caught my eye. I learned quickly to watch myself when a brick was tossed from the roof of a dilapidated shed, and when I narrowly dodged the incoming projectile, I heard a cacophony of cackles and guffaws, alongside a handful of insults and slurs.
It wasn’t long before I found the derelict lighthouse on the peak of of the slope. To a veteran sailor like myself, there is no church or abbey holier than this temple of light, and when I saw that this was a dark, corrupted altar, I felt the overpowering need to repair it to it’s rightful state. With the guidance of this celestial shrine, my crew would not have been swallowed by the encroaching water. Just the thought was enough, and without hesitation I blasted the door down with all of my might, and slowly limped up the winding stairs. The beacon itself, once an artifact of illumination, now seemed to exude pure pestilence and decay. I felt sick but made a promise to the countless seafarers who rest underneath the raging waters and eternal torrent, that I would return and restore this sacred pillar.
I retreated to the lodge, hoping the innkeeper would be able to point me in the direction of a nearby supply depot, for even the most valiant of efforts rely on tempered iron and a steady arm. He was able to give me the address of a small locale a few streets away. I then inquired about the lighthouse I had discovered in that horrid neighborhood, and almost like a demonic possession, the glint in his eyes shifted and his posture became aggressive.
“If I find you near that damned tower, you best believe I’ll put you in the ground. We don’t take kindly to outsiders snooping around. Do you understand, or will I have to get my maul?”
In a cold sweat, I nodded my head and quickly left for the resource depository. I went along my business more cautiously now; the innkeeper showed restraint, presumably for the gold coins in my possession, and I doubt other townsfolk would display the same amount of control.
The stockpile was rather limited, and lacked many of the tools I deemed necessary for repairing the lantern. If I was to restore the lustrous shine of the lamp, I would need to be rather creative with my amenities. With the last of my funds, I purchased a few wooden planks, a couple of sheets of scrap metal, an antique wrench and hammer, a sack of nails and a small drum of oil.
On the way out I solicited for a wheelbarrow to hoist my merchandise, and before I left the shelter of the warehouse, I pulled my hood over my head to obscure my unfamiliar face from glancing eyes.
I heaved the wagon up the slope with little incident; no derogatory slurs, no mocking eyes in the rotting wooden lattices, and most importantly, no acts of hostility. Upon arrival to the watchtower, I glanced up and down the road multiple times before I began unloading my resources to ensure that I wouldn’t have unwelcome guests later on. It didn’t take long to unpack, and I began my repairs immediately, hoping my efforts went unnoticed.
Hour after hour I tinkered and dabbled by the dim light of the discharges, and to uninformed eyes I might be seen as a madman, babbling to himself under the gray squall. Every so often, I would indulge in the musings of my stomach and scavenge what little comestibles I could gather from the underbrush directly behind the lighthouse. As I gorged on the handful of berries and fruit I chortled; How did I get here? I was a prestigious sailor what seemed almost minutes ago, yet now I am nothing more than an unwelcome vagrant. I wiped off my hands with my handkerchief and scaled the tower once more.
Deep into the night I trifled with the beacon, and now I struggled to remain in the realm of the waking. I steeled myself and fought through the exhaustion, and kept on with my repairs. I was nearing completion, and estimated that I would finish my task early tomorrow morning. I began to set my wrench aside and roll out a decomposing mat I had found in the chamber of the tower, when I heard the sound of shuffling feet and dragging iron directly below me.
“I told you to stay away from this accursed place, you goddamn sea rat!” His yell echoed up the tower, rising to crescendo at the top. I could hear his heavy steps become louder and more violent as he ascended the winding steps. There was a distinct sound of metal that followed him, and then I knew undoubtedly that he had brought his maul. It was the innkeeper.
“There’s a reason this lighthouse doesn’t shine anymore! It’s to keep disgraces like you under the waves, pale and foetid!” He shrieked as he neared the peak.
“You’ll meet your crew soon enough!” He bellowed as he reached the top. He swung his maul at me, and I swiftly ducked under his arc. Having been a hardened sailor, I know my way around drunken brawls and boarding parties alike, so his sluggish assault was nothing threatening. Before he could raise it to swing again, I drove my fist deep into his face. He dropped the maul and I heard it skid down the hundred or so steps in a loud stupor.
The innkeeper recoiled, and then overpowered me and threw me onto my back. He grabbed the wrench off the floor and charged me down, but before he could strike me with it I threw my boots up and landed a solid blow to his stomach. He stuttered backwards with an unprecedented amount of force, and toppled over the guardrail lining the open platform. He was silent as he fell sixty meters to his certain death, and the thud of his body could only be heard over the storm very faintly. I rushed down the stairs to get to him before anyone else could.
I dragged his shaken remains into the refuge of the lighthouse, and retrieved his maul. With it, I began to excavate a grave behind the pillar. It took a few hours, due to inopportune circumstances, and once it was finished I quickly entombed him and returned to the tower. It was raining harder than I had ever seen, and the road below was a massive torrent. As I slept I feared that the inundation would wash away the lighthouse foundation, but I couldn’t ponder it too long, for while I still lived, I felt deathly and fatigued, and lost consciousness almost instantaneously.
I rose from bed what might have been four or five hours later to see a crowd beginning to form around the lighthouse. Their expression was one of much unease and restlessness, and then I knew that I had to finish my repairs as soon as I could. They had assuredly found the body of the man I had defenestrated. What a fool I was, a shallow grave in a storm served as much of a purpose as an open sepulchre. I kneeled down and began work immediately, for I knew that the puny stone portcullis would not keep out a mob angry and flailing.
An hour had passed in nonevent, and the beacon faintly glowed now. All that was left was to install the drum of oil and stoke the fire high, but the mass of people had grown more agitated and uneasy. Soon I fear they might forcefully enter the tower and set aside a fate worse than death for me.
I lit the fire with my tinderbox as the door fell to the relentless ramming of the riots below. The beacon shone a light brighter than I had ever seen, and within an instant the clouds cleared to reveal the unthinkable horror hiding in the sanctuary of the blackened clouds. My eyes recognized it as nothing more than a mucilaginous fog, but I sensed a malice so intense that my head pounded and my heart burst in my chest. The rain had finally stopped and never has sunlight instilled such a great dread in me.
The townsfolk had reached me and they grabbed my appendages and restrained me. I gazed emptily at their scourged features, and could now see the curse they all carried; protruding from each of their mouths was a malodorous tendril belonging to the eldritch monstrosity in the sky.
They subdued any attempt to escape, but I no longer kicked and screamed; my mind, in an act of self-preservation, departed from the scene minutes ago. I lay dormant as the alien intrudes my sanctity and places me in unholy communion with the outlandish and otherworldly, controlling me like a puppet in the futile soliloquy of this dank and abysmal life…
Short Story By Miro
I discovered the box enroute to my workplace. Peculiar it was, resting silently (but not lifeless) on my doorstep: its method of arrival unclear, (postage unstamped, notes unwritten) and its origin remained even more of a mystery.
Having time to spare, (the library doors were not to open for another half hour or so) I lifted the package off the chilled foundation of my dwelling, and hoisted it into my abode. The parcel was about arms length wide and half as tall, but was disproportionately weighted; being surprisingly light in my arms, I estimated it was no more than two to three pounds, the weight of a respectably thick book. My librarians sense must be perfectly tuned, for once I procured a thin bladed box cutter from my coat pocket and dissected the carton, I gleefully removed a singular leather bound pamphlet, one which donned curious and otherworldly symbols on the cover. They swam hypnotically before my very eyes, and it was only the ticking harassment of my watch which was able to extract me from their implications. I quickly discarded the cut cardboard and carefully slid the intriguing lexicon into my well worn book bag. Time evading my grasp, I forgot all other pursuits in face of the habitual (a savage and unrelenting beast), and rushed out the door to my familiar athenaeum; novels needed ordering and encyclopedias needed cataloging.
My commute was rather uneventful, (rarely does anything happen in my sleepy New England town) and my day at the library passed with little incident; I spent many hours wavering and teetering on the bookshelves, uneasily swaying like a sailor on a treacherous, vertical sea. I have devoted many years of my life to the Bibliotheca, but the towering rusty ladders never fail to stiffen my spine and offset my balance. The former caretaker told me I would come to like them in time. I had not.
In between the primal stamping of pages and the tiring stocking of shelves, in moments of silence, my moments of respite, I would find myself gazing intently at a stack of manuscripts laying on my desk, and moreover the tome from this morning. The unique hardback was vital and vivid; if I stared for too long at its still image, the runes themselves seemed to dance and chant blasphemously, ritualistically, dogmatically, and the pages would whip back and forth, seemingly to beckon for my knowledge and trained eyes, only leaving my concentration to be broken by the sound of crashing books or impatiently stinging bells. To avoid further distraction, I buried it in the cloth of my knapsack and made a note to investigate it when I had time.
Later that night, once the scholars were chased out and the massive library gates had been sealed shut, I retrieved the lexicon and examined it under the fading candlelight. It pulsed morbidly, almost contagiously, and even though my stomach churned from its touch, I couldn’t distance myself from those corrupted pages. Any attempt to occupy myself otherwise was met with failure; after having read enough of the cryptic codex to make my skin crawl, I left the study and made way for my desk, (which was located across the main library expanse) only to find the leather booklet deeply burrowed into the weathered oak and tanned sheets of the shelves. Spotting the accursed thing was an organic blend of fortune and purpose, and initially, only the lexicon in question began pulsating, almost contagiously I might add, because soon thereafter a large collection of scripts joined the ominous act, all caused by one diseased hardback blighting and infecting like a plagued rat. In an act of preservation and intrigue, I removed the tome from the shelf (and once I did so the other books returned to their normal states) and took it to my davenport, where I would study it further. The custodian found me in the morning, (gave him a good fright) sitting upright behind my desk, eyelids wide open rebelling against gravity’s tyrannical rule.
The book contained nothing but minor rituals and trials to appease a shrouded and mysterious god. I hypothesize that I uncovered a trinket of an extinct cult, nothing more, nothing less. The paranormal being far out of my expertise, (I am but a humble librarian) I lent the tome to an occultist friend of mine, Azadhir Zaradi, knowing that he would enjoy it more than I ever could; the man could probably recognize the symbols like the back of his hand. He was an Arab scholar and one of my closest confidants; I had known him for many years and have always admired him. I have spent many late nights in his blackened presence, listening to his stories of the unholy and the unknown, and as he shewed me his savagely scarred chest, he would laugh in my face of bewilderment and proclaim ‘Communing with the eldritch isn’t the healthiest of pursuits’ under his breath.
On my way from home to the Bibliotheca I dropped the codex on his doorstep with a note and kept on my way. He was a man of iron resolve and I know he has dealt with horrors monumentally greater than the unsettling passages in this measly script, but I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of guilt, like I was damning him with a burden.
I had no time to ponder it further however, as the library was a veritable madhouse; never in my decade of servitude to the athenaeum had I seen a sight like this. People rushed and shoved and stampeded any being unfortunate enough to find themselves drowning under a sea of raging soles. And for what was this savage display? For nothing more than the paragraphs and sentences imprisoned by leather and twine alike: This was a town of scholars and aspiring knowledge seekers, but this was nothing short of madness. Often civilized men brutally cudgelled each other with the very books they coveted, and it was only until I shouted and struck a match that the crowd quieted, eyes fixated on the blazing star in a world of paper, cloth and flesh. They stopped, not out of courtesy for one another, but for fear of the insatiable hunger that threatened to consume them all.
I blew out the match, and walked over to my desk where my cohorts and I began a frantic day of filing, recording and dismissing. In the span of my eight hour shift, six hundred and thirty two manuals, novels and textbooks were borrowed. The crowd was a primal beast, and the library it’s prey; the shelves had been stripped bare like a naked carcass which had just fed the devious pack.
With nothing left to work on, (a librarian without his pages is like a bishop without his faith) I departed from the library and made way to Azadhir’s domain, knowing a man as engrossed in the dark arts as himself would have already studied the manuscript in its entirety. I knocked on his door and was met with a radiant woman in a fine satin robe. It was his wife. She greeted me and I told her that its always a pleasure to meet the one capable of keeping Azadhir sane. She laughed and led me to his study, where he was clutching a bleached skull in his hand, and I knew that it was for much more than mere aesthetics. Here the lexicon was resting on a basalt countertop underneath a dimly incandescent lamp, and its pages whirred a low and indistinguishable growl as I neared it, like a cat in a corner screeching and hissing and threatening to scratch and scar. Azadhir told me that I had found an artifact of much interest, and that much I knew to be true.
The book detailed many foul and gruesome rituals, but none were as unnerving as the ‘Cyothogi’, a tribute to a deity referred to as Igg Cyarlogg. The ceremony involved the sacrifice of two people, and the mutilation of another; the first two would have their legs chopped off, slowly and agonizingly with the dull blows of ceremonial knives and sharpened stones, and once the legs were harvested, their previous owners were left to bleed out, discarded like meatless offals. Then, the legs were attached to a third member, painstakingly sowed into the flesh as the recipient shrieks and screams for their forgotten god. Once the procedure was finished, the six legged monstrosity would then become somewhat of a religious leader, and was said to have clear communion with Igg Cyarlogg. Each party went into this ceremony willingly, even the sacrificers.
After Azadhir had finished detailing the rite, he offered to show me a simple summoning call he was studying from the book, and added (with a touch of sarcasm) that even a mundane man such as myself would have no trouble stomaching it. Curious, I agreed, and abruptly he unsheathed a dagger and started chanting unfathomable syllables and words. He jabbed his palm (horribly disfigured from a lifetime of servitude to the occult) with the knife, just enough to draw some blood, and rubbed it on the temples of his ritual skull. As he continued to chant more and more vigorously, I could feel my blood growing progressively thinner, and as Azadhir began to scream, the vacant sockets of the skullcap lit up, and the lexicon began to glow palely. What came next unsettled me deeply; out of the fetid pages, a pincer emerged, and soon after the rest followed. Standing on its unnaturally crooked legs was a blindingly orange hexapod. Its limbs were malformed and it reeked of otherworldly decay, but the worst part of this unholy abomination was the fact that we, earthen men, birthed it from the divine cosmos above. Feeling light headed, I told Azadhir that I had seen enough, and he banished it back to its far reaches of space, and as its putrid radiance melted back into the pages I could feel my organs shaking uneasily. He still had to work on the proportions of blood, and he told me that he would be experimenting with it later that night.
There was silence for many minutes, which I eventually broke by getting to my feet and saying that I must be going. I shook his hand firmly and he recoiled initially, for my hand was as cold as the paw of a rotting dog, and as damp as the maggots within. He handed me the book which I shoved back to him. I told him he could do as he wished with it, and he accompanied me to door in a quiet stupor. On departure from his dark dwelling, I wished him luck on his pursuits, to which he replied ‘likewise’.
Twenty steps off of his crumbling stone doorstep and into his feverishly overgrown lawn, the skin on the back of my neck began to singe and peel, and in an instant I was enveloped by a sea of sweat and soot. I was mortally terrified of what had happened, and feared that if I turned around and witnessed the detestation myself, a fate worse than conventional devilry would befall me; no pillars of salt or righteous fury, no flagellation or crucifixion, only a deepening torrent of madness, constantly widening until my sanity is but a speck on the bloody horizon.
I slowly turned, clenching my fists and jaw alike, so damnably hard that my fingers squeaked and ached and my teeth rattled aimlessly in my skull.
What was once his house was now a smoldering orange inferno. There was no smoke, and as I watched the fire squirm and scutter unnaturally, I knew I had lost my mind, that my only window of opportunity was slammed shut on my fingers, that there was no escape and that I had no choice left but to drown. There was no fire at all.
The hundreds of thousands of crabs rushed and dashed amongst the ruins, gorging and feasting on what was left of Azadhirs life. Within a minute they flooded out from underneath the house, carrying bits of hair and flesh in between their pincers. Some had parts of his fine lips, and I saw one with its claw pierced through one of his eyes, the tendons dragging behind, dripping with a mucusy glean. Stunned beyond comprehension, the cascade of crustaceans enveloped my ankles, and it wasn’t long before their drilling spurs brought me crashing to the ground. Hundreds of them washed over me, clamping my arms and legs and restraining my movement. Panic began to grip me, and as I tried to shake this foetid legion from my limbs, I saw a sight that tormented my poor eyes who were unfortunate enough to have witnessed it; down the unending stream of orange flowed twenty toes, four feet, and four kneecaps; the legs of the late Azadhir and his ill-fated wife. ‘Till death do them part’ a preacher once told them, and as I watched their legs rush towards me I knew he was correct: the once happily married couple had certainly been parted.
The legs reached me rapidly, and were almost perfectly aligned to my hips, and as the exposed bone brushed against my skin, leaving behind trails of dripping blood, my skin seemed to raise and warp, almost as if in protest to this malignancy. The crabs below held the limbs firmly overhead, and the rotting flesh of the dead pieces seemed to fuse into my writhing hips. Controlled by pure fear, I managed to clear the hexapods off of my (MY) legs and somehow found my balance. My paralysis finally broke, and I fled lapping and wailing through the tall grass of this unkempt yard before I lost consciousness somewhere down the cold and rigid road.
I awoke in the hospital; apparently the first responders found me not too far from the fire that wracked my good friends life. The legs were gone, but my body (especially my waist) stung a sensation not unlike the devastation dealt by an iron maiden; they had treated my ‘burns’, but the pain that I felt was closer to the wrath of a thousand pincers, rotting and overflowing and shredding my skin. Just the memory of the ‘fire’ caused me to wince, and I briefly considered asking for medical assistance. I quickly realized, however, that by medical standards, I was afflicted with hallucinations, paranoia, and a tenacious phantom agony. I would have to be condemned to the leather-strapped hell of the sanitarium; a dungeon of procedure, confinement, and the dreaded correction.
Nothing could have hoped to have survived that firewall; I learned from the paper on my doorstep that the fire raged through the night, leaving only a hill of ashes and fragments in its wake of frenzy. I convinced myself to forget about the incident; with Azadhir and that diabolical script both brutally swallowed by the demonic heat, not much remained of the situation, only my memories of it. Heavy, sinking moments of recollection, capable of dragging me into the infernal abyss where Azadhir had been taken, and where the reality shattering truth lies…
Short Story By Miro
What a treacherous dreamscape I’m plunged into; rolling hills of a deep maroon, as far as the eye can see, and one can only assume what horrors lie in their depths. Brooding monstrosities lurking at the gaping mouths of the screaming mountains, the rock faces petrified in an eternal terror, almost as if warning me, contradicting my every action.
Above my existence is the sky, stained a viscous red and infested with long, drooping tendrils which threaten to swoop on me should I let my guard drop too far. Nestled behind the deep entanglement of disembodied appendages is a sun, one which resembled an over worked, blood-shot eye. Never blinking, always watching.
This world is barren, devoid of any life capable of sheltering my fragile, human body. The air tastes foul and poisonous, and the surveying sun is radiating pure dread itself. The wind is sharped and edged, cutting into my skin. On the wind rides a slew of demonic spores, burrowing into the flesh; cultivating and consuming like the executioners of a
scaphism, leaving my wounds to fester and rot.
In an act of self preservation I brave the tenebrously dark cave entrance. I hesitate, but after hearing the leafless bushes whistle uncannily in the wind, I dive into the bowels of the cave like a happy pill sliding down the throat of a grayed, depressive man.
Panicked but reserved, I calm myself to a walk, anything more than that would be to in-dignify myself and give power to the encroaching darkness. So I walk alongside the pointed rock walls, carefully choosing my footing by the light of the sinister blood roots feeding on the sanguine soaked air.
Hearing a sound directly behind me, I jerk my head rapidly, but I see nothing; the light on the far side of this ravine is negligible at best. I return all of my focus to traversing the rough cavern, not giving the incident much though. This was hard enough without some fiend at my throat, so I buried the thought quickly, hoping that it would do the same
and leave me to my own devices. Is that so much to ask for?
Apparently so, because within seconds I hear the scuttling of small feet on the black basalt all around me. By the glow of phosphorescent fungus I see it, immediately wishing I hadn’t. At first glance it seemed nothing more than a crawling child, but upon further inspection I notice some abnormalities; It’s fingers were elongated, most likely to assist in
scaling the rugged cave walls, and it’s head represented an eggplant: Oblonged and deformed. Resting in it’s sunken sockets were dark, bloated eyes, more likely suited to the dank, shadowy nature of the abyss.
I know I’m surrounded by these beasts, like a wounded animal in a pool of piranhas, left dead in the water. I take a step forward in anticipation, readying myself for conflict. In unison they begin shrieking, creating a symphony of screams and screeches, circling me like a hurricane of sheer terror.
My thoughts, all incoherent except for one: If I stay here, I’m going to die. The one thought broke my paralysis, and within seconds I kicked the ground beneath me, thrusting myself further into the monster’s den.
I broke into an awkward run, grabbing at the walls constantly to balance myself. My hands, a bloody pulp from the sharp stalactites lining the walls, only encouraged the mouth frothing troglodytes in pursuit, starving for their next gorge.
One made a move, leaping from the tall ceiling, attempting to swing onto my back. I clumsily side stepped, missing it’s grasp by only mere inches. I hear an unceremonious splat on the ground behind me, trying to not give it much thought.
The oncoming horde didn’t seemed deterred, no, they seemed encouraged, almost strengthened by their comrades fall. They
started leaping in groups, and as more and more of them piled onto my back, beating my spine with their ghastly fingers, it became harder to move, harder to escape.
But I kept trying; To stop and fight would be pointless, there’s no way I can overcome them all, so I insisted on keeping my pace, hoping that some other eldritch monstrosity further in the chasm would come to my aid, and not to my demise.
Estimating at least three piggy-backing me, more and more keep trying to get a grip, to bog me down. I can hear the sounds of those who fail behind me, impaled by the stalagmites below.
I can no longer move, there are too many of them beating and constricting me. I try to grab and pull them off of me, to rip off their grips, but it’s no use, and with my focus elsewhere I take a misstep, sending me and my huggers plummeting into a seemingly bottomless pit. Like lemmings, the rest follow without thought.
We fell for what seemed an eternity, but their rage was unaffected and they maintained their onslaught, flailing at me with their disproportionate limbs, and smashing their elongated heads into my body.
And finally we hit; it wasn’t quite a solid surface, but it felt like one, and I myself would be nothing more than a phantom if it weren’t for my attackers taking most of the impact. Slowly regaining consciousness, I gaze at my new surroundings.
I was in an underground grotto, now in a lake. Floating only feet away from me was a pile of the fiends’ corpses, and I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of empathy for them; they were only hunting to feed themselves, but when I recalled that I was the prey, the pity faded and I proceeded onward, not sure where I was going, but very sure that I couldn’t stay
here. There’s no knowing what hideous realities our commotion could have awakened.
Lifting myself onto a ledge and out of the water, I see a faint, pulsing light in one of the tunnels before me. Without thought, I start moving towards it, most likely a lure to my own demise, like a moth led to a flame.
I pass through the winding tunnels slowly, my legs still functional but barely, are horribly warped from the fall, and my hands are caked with fetid, crusty infection, most likely lethal (I know not what ghastly disease this land has), but I doubt I’ll live long enough for it to kill me.
Turning the final corner, I enter the ominously lit room. I find myself in the chest cavity of this living mountain, because before me stands a massive living, beating heart.
I am fortunate that my voyage through the tunnels was uneventful, but my luck caught up to me as I heard a cacophony of other-worldly noises, steadily gaining on my position, like anti-bodies pursuing an infiltrating virus, ready to neutralize the threat.
At once it became obvious what I needed to do: Kill the heart, the life of this mountain, the source of this horrible existence. In an instant I put all my effort to snapping off a wall spike, and once succeeded, donned it in both arms, stabbing and slashing and twisting the point.
Out of the heart poured maggots and puss, and the aroma of it alone was almost enough to overpower me, but I kept attacking with my remaining, depleted energy.
The first responders were on the scene now, showing their indescribable faces and their undefinable carcasses. They were
coming for me, and I knew I had only seconds before my minute existence was ended.
In one last savage attempt, I sink the stone deep into the heart, hitting an artery, and within moments all goes dark, the beating heart stops, and my surroundings grow lifeless.
I sit up straight in my bed, drenched in sweat and housed in a horrid odor. I groped the wall for my lamp and sit in silence for a few minutes, waiting, contemplating.
I slowly transitioned back into bed; the long, powerful claws of exhaustion drags me back into the world of my own darkness.
I sleep better this time; the maggots in my mouth and throat squirm comfortingly, and the exposed bones of my fingers feel nice against my still heart.
What a nice dream that was.
Recently Miro was asked to give a podcast interview (which will be released very soon). Miro was supplied with a series of questions in preparation for the interview… so he wrote out his answers. But when the interview happened it was more of a candid conversation and went in many new directions. Still, Miro prepared his answers and since they weren’t used during the podcast interview, he wanted to share his answers with you here today.
Q: What is your journey? What path did you take to reach where you are today?
Well, my mother and I left the united states five years ago, with plans to be gone for 1 year. But what made this experience unique, is when we left we had no plans. We just had our backpacks and we decided where to go from there.
I also had equal weight when it came to decision making on our travels, which was also a very empowering experience. We took this journey initially because of an economic crash back in 2008, but it turned from a family vacation into a
Q: What do you think when you hear people talking about teenage rebellion?
It’s irrelevant to me, as it’s never been a part of my experience. I have never had any teenage rebellion, probably because I’ve had nothing to rebel against. All (or most) of my life choices were made by me, so rebellion became pointless.
Q: What does education mean to you?
Learning just by experiencing what this great world has to offer, the knowledge is all around, you just have to know how to soak it all in. Live to learn, learn to live.
Q: What do you say to people who ask how do you learn science, math, etc?
Kind of the same answer, the learning is present with every day life, *especially* math and science. That being said, as a worldschooler I don’t believe in breaking life down into subjects, as you can’t help but learn in this vast world of ours.
Q: When you look back on the times when you were living a more main stream lifestyle, what are your thoughts? Similarly if you compare your lifestyle to main stream lifestyles portrayed in the media, or the lifestyles of others you meet, what are your thoughts?
A completely different experience. Our lifestyle isn’t dictated by the crippling capitalism that we were once slaves in. We live how we want, free from economic pressure and societal expectations. And I’m not saying we don’t work, we do, but on our terms, and by doing so we live hand to mouth, and need nothing else.
Q: What do you like best about your lifestyle? What don’t you like about your lifestyle?
As with every lifestyle, there are ups and downs. The freedom of our lives is certainly the big upside, if we want to pack up and go at any time we can do so. But, on the flipside, this also means we can never really establish our roots, not being able to make a very desirable community, which is also where our side project, Project World School comes in, as we seek to not only fill that void for us, but for any party interested.
Q: Do you have long term friendships? If so, how do you keep them with your nomadic lifestyle?
It’s pretty rough, but it would be completely impossible if not for the internet. I am so grateful to have such a wonderful tool to keep in contact with all of my friends. One of my best friends is a boy my age who lives a similar lifestyle with his family. We’ve been great friends for 3 years now and have never met in person.
Q: What are your thoughts on culture?
On the value of learning about the culture of others? I think it’s great, really a fantastic mind opener. To know that humans all across the world of the same biological family are practicing different traditions really gets your mind going. Our ability to make such special and meaningful customs is amazing, and I think those traditions are really what makes us human.
Q: What are your thoughts on freedom and liberty?
Our lifestyle is the embodiment of those two things, and those two things are my favorite part about my life. Freedom is the most sought after thing in this world, whether it be freedom of economy, or freedom of society, which makes me feel incredibly honored to be living a true, liberty filled life. I think we as humans forget that freedom is one of a persons basic needs, and have completely nixed it from many people without even knowing it, especially kids, who are the most affected demographic.
Q: What are your plans and goals for the present and future?
To live a happy and just all around great life. We’ll see what I do in the future, but I’m honestly content to joyously roam the world, and nothing else. Imagine if Atlas was finally able to put down the Earth. Do you think he would stick around for his next shift?
For present plans, my mother and I are working on teen World-school retreats, to help bring kids to countries of other cultures, and to hopefully give them a true taste of cultural immersion. You can find out more about it at ProjectWorldSchool.com
Q: Is there anything you would like to tell the audience before we close?
To live life to the fullest really. If you’ve ever wanted to go and travel, or do anything, you should do it now. Why toil away tirelessly so you can enjoy life later? Now is the last time this moment will ever happen, so go before the moment escapes you.
Q: Where can people find out more?
Here is a link to the podcast interview Miro gave for the podcast Choice Conversations- How to Live a Great Life with Miro and Kevin Geary
This post is written by 15 year old Miro Siegel
So, the topic of World-schooling has been a controversial one for a while now, and I would like to clear that up, (or at least attempt it) so here we go.
World-schooling is the term used to describe learning through travel, and cultural immersion, while completely omitting traditional education for real life experience.
While this seems like a sketchy idea to most, I can assure you that World-schooling is one of the more sane educational options, and I’ll tell you why.
World-schooling puts the choice into the hands of the child, while also influencing them through cultural experiences. And it works. Well. By mixing these two ideas, World-schoolers are able to soar above the rest when it comes to independence and open-mindedness.
By taking kids out of a conventional school environment where the only social interaction is with other children, World-schoolers are able to socialize with people in other age groups with ease (including people in their own age group). In life, there are many people of many different ages, so it is essential for growing humans to be able to handle this.
So how is this different than unschooling? Well, it’s pretty damn close actually, with the only difference being it takes place in multiple different locations of the world. As a World-schooler myself, I would say the key is cultural immersion. Not to view yourself as tourists, but as visiting locals, coming back home to a new culture. So think of me as an unschooler, who is simply influenced by the knowledge available in the world.
World-schoolers also have an innate sense of safety in the world, free from the blatant fear that plagues many, as we can see (with our own eyes) that it’s just not true. World-schoolers are almost always fear-free, and the fear of the unknown becomes what fuels us in our learning.
I’d like to share a few things that have inspired me in my personal experience during my travels, such as learning about Mayan mythology, Guatemalan perma-culture, Andean mysticism and U.S. political involvement in all of Central America. Now, let me say that not all of these things I have had particular interests in, but all of these things have sparked interests in other subjects and topics.
And you might say “What about math, or science?” and to that I say look around, if you don’t see the math and science around you, you might be blind. These things are always present in life, just by living in this world I am learning about science, and just by living my day to day life I am learning math. Even if it’s unintentional, the learning never stops, and never will.
I remember being on an Andean farm, with a traditional Andean family, learning about growing their own sustainable food, about killing a guinea pig, praying to the mountains over it’s body, dissecting it, cleaning the organs, preparing the meat, making Chicha (traditional corn beer), measuring the ingredients, and so on. Now, you tell me that life is broken down into subjects.
Also, make sure to read :
The House Pointing to the Locked Bridge
Somewhere with in the vast lands of Yigg, on a silent river bank lay a house; a house uninhabited for many aeons, possibly since the dawn of time. This house was of an eery nature, the winds, when they did seldom come, got caught on the old crumbling tiles and whistled an unsettling tune. Yes, this house was one you would tell stories of to your children, and they to their children. This house was one of legends.
And on this same silent river bank, rests a bridge; a mysterious and forbidden bridge. At the foot of this bridge are grand gates, ones crafted from impeccable ironwood, and resting on these gates was a sole lock. This lock would not open by any means, prying it open was impossible, for this lock was unbreakable, as if enchanted by a great magician from ages past. Many have tried to get onto the bridge other ways, such as traversing the cold and frigid waters below, but a fog overcame them all, and they were never seen again. This fog was always present, this fog hides all that is beyond the impassable gates. This fog is the guardian to ancient, eldritch information, and in turn, this fog was the guardian to the human race.
No doubt something of unearthly nature lingers beyond these gates. Something that if revealed to the feeble human mind, would be the end of all thought. Genius would be replaced with dullness. Life would be replaced with death.
But humanity’s curiosity is a plague, an always growing problem, and the fog won’t be able to protect us forever. We will eventually un-earth the resting grove of new knowledge, we will eventually discover things we were never supposed to know. We will eventually discover the secrets of life, and of course, the secrets of death.
And that, is simply too much.
Footprints Across the Sky
They left footprints in their wake, as they often did whilst treading across the field of blue. The footprints were always the only evidence, no, I should say suggestion, of them and their existence. The suggestion of the Sky People has lingered in humanity since thought was possible, and many men sought after them fruitlessly, driven mad by their want of knowledge.
See, the Sky People are said to have been Earths guardians since it all began, eons ago, but their very concept is one the feeble human mind can’t fully comprehend. In fact, many have gone crazy in their pursuit of the mythical men, coming across knowledge opening a vista of new information; coming across knowledge too powerful for the mind to contain.
But hey, enlightenment comes with a price, right?
The topic of the Sky People alone has become a controversial one for this very reason, as more and more of us are shedding our primal fear of the unknown, breaking our already broken system. Less people are confined within the protocol of economy and religion and are discovering things which should not be known to man.
And religion, religion has always had conflict with the researchers of the sky, claiming that their research is blasphemous and sinful, and that it will anger Blehegg and a tenebrous void will befall us. Religious fanatics have destroyed countless research centers, and have even gone as far as murdering the scientists, in order to keep Blehegg content.
Here I sit, on the side of this grassy hill, watching the the footprints. There were many today; it might rain later on.
When the Clouds Met the Mountain
It was quiet; as it usually was, and it was overcast, a sight seen very often here in the far lands of Kog. The town was dead; everyone was hiding in some bunker or a crevice somewhere, we all knew what came next.
Tempest and Gaia were to fight soon. The clouds generated by Tempest angered Gaia, and Gaia’s large mass infuriated Tempest. This had happened many times, and the people of Kog knew the phenomenon well.
Quakes, tremors and landslides came from the west, and lightning, heavy rain and hurricanes came from the east. The two deities met in the settlement of Juncon, as they did every month; inadvertently raining destruction from the heavens, and the ground below.
And as the deities fought every month, so did the people; The people rebuilt and repaired as they needed. A single flaw in their structure could send them flying into the sky, or plunging into the depths of the earth.
The population of Juncon was dwindling. Every month, people would decide they’ve had enough, or simply succumb to their wounds. The life of a Junconian was a hard one. However the people of Kog knew what they were getting into when they built here, in fact, they welcomed it. This was the first step in taking back our freedom, breaking free from the tyranny imposed by the deities. We built a settlement in their playground, the valley of Pok, and it angered them greatly.
Quakes every few minutes, and an endless thunderstorm were the most common occurrence, however there was also interference from other deities. Incredible heat waves caused by Agni, yet minutes later, sub-zero temperatures as a by-product of Boreas’ fury. Ceres frowned upon us, and our crops died. There are too many to name.
Yet, despite the god’s punishment, we’re still here. However, Tempest and Gaia are the only ones still present. The others simply vanished; people stopped worshiping them, and without the power of the peoples prayers, they couldn’t survive.
Tempest and Gaia have certainly grown weaker. We’ve gotten through the hardest part, as their attacks won’t be as fierce as they were before. However it is concerning; without Tempest there is no wind, no rain, and without Gaia there is no nourishment in the ground, making plant life impossible. Life would not be possible without these two gods, so even though they are our enemies, our predator, we must pray to them.
It is because of us, and us alone that life is sustainable on this planet, the people of the far lands of Kog, the guardians of the Earth.