No doubt UFOs seem to prefer the airspace above The United States, mainly regions far from urban centres where you can find only drunk and insomniac travellers. But even if it is assumed all alien ships have arrived there, we can not but notice that other countries also have reported alien encounters. In Bolivia it is not uncommon to illuminate the skies and the dark spaces of our history with stories of alien contacts. These stories may not reach the level of those of Spielberg films, but they are our own contact with the stars.
Jaime Saenz and aliens
Four decades ago a strange letter reached the desk of the newspaper editor in the city of La Paz. The letter was written by Mr. Deodato Vera, the mayor of a small community called Lambate. The village was located at the foot of Illimani, the snowy mountain that could be seen from the city. In the letter he explained how every night for some months, strange bright ships were seen entering and leaving a mysterious cave on the mountaintop. The text, now lost in the newspaper archives, was published in eight columns, leaving the readers observing the mountain at night in search of mysterious lights or objects.
The article goes into detail on the reactions of the community and how when the night falls the starships and artificial lights come in and out of the mysterious cave. The Lambate mayor complains mainly of the noise that keeps them awake. The article concluded with a sentence from the letter: “They do not hurt us but don’t disturb us either.”
Over forty years after these events, a Bolivian writer revealed who was behind that letter and subtle joke. The author was a resident of the city, the writer Jaime Saenz. He is probably he greatest writer in the city, a great unknown in his time, who today is recognized as the great artist he was. He was author of books like Felipe Delgado, La Noche and Los Cuartos.
The Journalist and the astronaut
Bolivia and its history full of mysteries must have something that gives a certain level of credibility to stories about alien told about this geographic region.
A few months ago the journalist Eduardo R. Ascarrunz published the novel El Salar de Maravilla and although we know that we are facing a work of fiction, nothing in the story sounds completely like fiction. In this story, the narrator reveals a conversation he had in 1970 with the astronaut “Buzz” Aldrin.
Aldrin recalls how they reported to the control centre at NASA in Houston a supposed “hemispherical” ship escorting them to reach the moon.
“Here we are three . . . they are here, under our ship . . . We found some visitors” said Armstrong to Houston, and they answer the call for more precise information:
Aldrin: “I’m out here saying that there are other spacecraft. They are across the crater.”
Houston: “You have succeeded in filming them?”
Aldrin: “No film at the moment, the cameras are photographing other objectives. They are down there and they are getting closer to the moon beside us, watching us.”
Houston: “What are you watching?”
Aldrin: “Yes, we are not alone.”
This brief dialogue soon appeared on every ufology site and publication, starting debates and new accusations of NASA hiding the truth.
The book tells the story of an astronaut who returned several times to the Salar de Uyuni (Uyuni Salt Lake) in Bolivia where he discovers some mythical secrets. With simple but beautiful prose, the author writes about the Salar and the mysteries it hides.
The writer and the balloons
But literature didn’t always tamper with reality. Sometimes it wasn’t on purpose; other times, it wasn’t with pen and paper, but but with real flying objects.
Harry Marcus is a Spanish writer who lived in Bolivia for many years, writing stories and poems and building weather vanes, kites and other flying objects. He recalls an occasion when his projects ended up on the front page of the local newspaper. The author was building aerostatic balloons with his cousins and friends in the early sixties. In 1962 an article appeared in the newspaper El Mundo with the headline: “Flying saucers in Cochabamba?” The author, who realized that the text was referring to his experiments, came to the newspaper to clarify the misunderstanding. The journalists were interested in the project and they published an article “The Truth About Flying Saucers in Cochabamba”, with photographs, interviews and reports. Such was the interest and enthusiasm generated by the story that the author and his friends had to start a club to teach young people to build balloons and flying saucers.
This also inspired many writers, and even his own short story “El Globo” which appeared in several anthologies and collections.
But these are not the only stories that connect Bolivia with aliens. There are old and modern texts, where the beings that inhabit other planets or levels of existence come in contact with the country. Examples of these works are:
Zedar de los espacios, by Ramiro Condarco Morales
Los sueños del padre: cuentos de marcianos, terrimarcianos y terrícolas by Ivan Prado Sejas
Huellas de luna by Gonzalo Montero Lara
La invasión de los seres salidos de la no existencia, by Rolando Abornoz
El crepúsculo en la noche de los tiempos by Ivan Prado Sejas
Ovnis y extraterrestres en los andes by Hugo Murillo Benich
In the classic Science Fiction stories, aliens are the representation of the other. They may be friend or enemy, but they represent who is different from us. They may be distinguished by their body, their mind or their very existence. Alien stories are stories that tell us that we are not alone in a vast universe and that we must learn to accept differences, or perhaps fight for our survival. There are many ways to understand the metaphor of the ET.
The presence of aliens in Bolivian science fiction is different. At the end in those stories, the aliens are us. As in the stories of Jaime Saenz, Eduardo Ascarrunz and Harry Marcus, we are the source and origin. To write about them, their strange features, their powers and distant cultures, is to write about ourselves.