|Ahhh, there's just something about bus travel.....can't quite put a finger on it...|
Finally arrived at Lake Titicaca, at the city of Puno well after dark. After an unmemorable night, we headed out early by bus for the Bolivian border. We went through the usual check out / check in border paperwork, with one very expensive exception: Bolivia charges U.S. citizens $135 US per person for a visa. No other countries have to pay a thing!!! Kind of offsets the cheap expenses of Bolivian travel. We gather that it has something to do with an ongoing "tit for tat" with the US government. Wouldn't be at all surprised, but it still smarts.....
At any rate, we've arrived in the rather touristy, but still pretty cool town of Copacabana, on the Bolivian shore of Lake Titicaca...(you've just gotta love saying the word). We were supposed to visit the offshore island of Isla del Sol this morning by boat. We were ready for the 8:30 pickup at 8:15....no worries. But also no pick up. That IS a worry. Seems like we crossed a time zone line when we crossed into Bolivia yesterday, so we missed the mark by an hour!! (If you read the previous blog post, you might sense a pattern developing here...sure hope not!!!) Ah well, there's always mañana.
|Beautiful Lake Titicaca sunset from hostal room|
|Fellow passenger enjoying the ride|
|Traditional reed catamaran|
|Most island boats were very pretty traditional row boats|
|Cindi the Inca princess|
|When cultures collide|
|Burros are the Ford F150 of island farming|
|Working the hundreds of fields by hand|
The next day we caught a three hour bus to La Paz. The ride was uneventful except for a rather bizarre stop, unexpected to us. Our road had taken us to the end of a long peninsula in the lake. No bridge to the far shore. Problema? Nah, not for the enterprising Bolivianos!!! The bus drove to the lakeside, where the passengers disembarked and boarded little water taxis, while the bus rode a barge across to the other side, where the process was reversed, and we were on our way!! Very cool...
|Christening a new barge with lots of beer sprayed on the barge, and down the gullets of the workers|
We've been exploring La Paz for a couple of days now. Although the official capitol of Bolivia is Sucre, the de facto, or administrative capitol is La Paz, and with elevations ranging from 3,000 to 4,100 m (9,800 to 13,500 ft), it is the highest seat of government in the world.
|Calle Jaen, one of the nicest preserved streets|
We're staying in the Casco Viejo neighborhood, home to the remaining colonial architecture, created by the Spaniards starting in 1548. Though much of the colonial buildings of La Paz have been torn down to make way for newer, easier to maintain (read more profitable)buildings, this area still keeps much of its earlier character, albeit much of which is pretty dilapidated. The city is an amazing juxtaposition of indigenous people with modern urban life. With 2.3 million inhabitants in the metropolitan area, it includes nearly 25% of the nations people, of whom 62% consider themselves of an¨"indigenous" background, primarily Quechua and Aymara.
One neighborhood that we explored today is home to the local shaman and healers market. With endless small shops selling amulets, herbs, candles, incense, and of course, dried lama fetuses, the place is clearly the right spot to go when looking for luck for love, health, wealth, strength, and good travels. We needed to pick up some trinkets to ensure continuing safe journeys, and the proprietors, healers themselves, were most helpful in picking out the best, most powerful mojo tools. We took a miss on a dried llama fetus....when customs asks "are you bringing in any agricultural products", we didn´t think we could keep a straight face!!!
|Cindi tries to catch some good llama fetus ju ju, before leaving the rascal behind...|
|Assortment of goodies, including candles to burn for luck of the male and female genitalia.....hey don't knock it if you haven't tried it!!!|
|Gratuitous ugly dog shot.....what's wrong with a damn golden retriever or a malamute, anyway???|