Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Day 35 - Backward Geography Game

Tiwanaku was an hour´s bus ride from La Paz, so we tried to leave early. However, early didn´t happen, since we kept stopping to ogle at the goodies that lay before us - musical instruments, T-shirts, alpaca pants...Bolivia is a shopaholic´s dream come true. Thankfully, I was able to practice some restrain. I did give in to my third pair of alpaca pants. Yes, they are just that comfortable.

When we finally got around to taking a bus to the Tiwanaku ruins, I invented a game. You must have heard of the Geography Game, where I say the name of a country or city and the letter that my place ends with would be the one yours begins with. Here´s an example:

Me- Athens
You- Serbia
Me - Anchorage
You - Eritrea

It´s pretty simple. My version was a bit more complicated. If I say the name of a place, let´s say Athens, you would have to name a place that ends with my first letter. The Backward Geography Game, or BGG, would go like so:

Me- Athens
You - India
Me- Missouri
You- Assam

As the pioneers of BGG, we set a record for the number of hours we played the game. It was much more difficult than the standard version. For instance, the number of places that end in "P" is quite small. Same goes for "Q". Can you think of a location other than Iraq that ends in a "Q"? We couldn´t.

The game started on the bus ride to the ruins. When we got there, the entrance fee of 80 bolivianos took us by surprise. That was a lot of money for one person. Instead, we explored the Tiwanaku village and ventured out into a sparsely populated farmland. We sat for a few hours in the hay like grass, munching on cookies and continuing the Backward Geography Game. BGG was slow to end. The only way it would come to a stop is if an individual passed his or her turn, because he or she didn´t know of a place that ended with a particular letter. That person would receive a letter, the first one being "D", the second "O", and so forth, eventually spelling out DONKEY. The first person to reach DONKEY status loses. By 11:30 at night were all were at DONKE, with one letter to go. There was tension in the air. I didn´t want to lose. Nikhil said Venezuela. It was my turn. Kiev had been used. So had Tel Aviv. I was out of options...for now. But I wasn´t planning on losing. Earlier in the day, it took me an hour to come up with Potsdam. If I sleep on it, I´m sure I´ll find something that ends in "V". The best ideas come at 3 am anyways.


  1. BGG sounds complicatedly interesting. Who is the donkey? Did he/she had to carry every one's bag too?

  2. How about Kharkov, also in the Ukraine? Have you read the poem Muddlehead by S. Marshak? There's a line in it that goes "Is it Kharkov, is it Kiev?" as he wants to know where he is on a train trip.