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Sorata

BOLIVIA | Friday, 3 March 2006 | Views [1056]

Needing a repreive from La Paz, and the 4 incessant days of water balloons, spray foam, and all around chaos.. we decided to take a trip to Sorata, a beautiful small town set amongst gorgeous greeen hills under the looming presence of Mt Llampu. Its 4 1-2 hours from La Paz. Wanting to leave Tues, but delayed until Wed because we are told by several people that there are no buses until after Carnaval (even though we found out the next day that there were:

THE  bus is slow and bumpy:it reminds me of ecuador; going from loja to vilcabamba, but even more dramatic. After 4 hours we descend into the valley, town of Sorata. Even the central square where we are dropped off looks like vilca, but with less gringos (we barely see any) and more activity, lots of markets, etc.

We sit down for a filling 8 boliviano almuerzo, which included chicken with peanut sauce, soup, plantain... find the hostal Mirador, the owner offers us a room for 10 boli each.. we take it. The hostal, as its name suggests has a beautiful patio, cafe, roof, all with splendid views of the mountains, and hopefully of Llampu, the great bear, hiding behind the clouds.

We settle in. There are a bunch of artesans (hemp jewelery making kids) from >Argentina and Spain, the kids you see selling their good on blankets in the streets of Copacabana and La Paz.  We go for a walk down to the river, down down down and then make our way up up up. Like La Paz, the town is built on the side of a mountain, so you are never getting anywhere on a flat plain. Its a beautiful walk, and we come back a few hours later. One of the Mario´s (there are 2 from salta, northern argentina) had told us he was cooking dinner, so we picked up some guac ingredients and booze to contribute on the way home.  The Empanada festivities started around 8pm. Being from the region that they are, they are serious about their salteñas. From scratch, they cook up the fillings (cheese, meat, potatoes, onion, carrots, etc) and the dough. We all (about 10 people from the hostal) contribute to the rolling, kneading, and  stuffing (tucking  the edges carefully so they dont pop open when you cook them) . It  took me about 3 or 4 to get the tuck, crimp down.. and in the end we had a table full of about 100 lil empanadas. They didnt hit the frying pan until about 11pm, and in their way, their was no taste testing, only patience to wait until they are all cooked, then we gathered around the table and savored the hot pockets. Mario also whipped up a tomato ahi sauce, muy picante, delicious! It was worth the wait, and a great way to spend the night, drinking, cooking, preparing food with a group of people...   

The next day, we set off on a hike with mathais (argentina) and irena (spain) and their dop, which she brought from Spain, chuzta. It is a 12 km walk to the caves, Gruta in the town of San Pablo. Once we got up the ridge, the walk followed the road around the mountain. Barely any cars passed us, the sun was strong. We made it there in 2 hour, en punto. Barely stopped to rest, they were on the move, and  Shira and I did our best to keep up. We arrive, pay a small entrance fee and make our way into this huge cave. It is sparsely lit with lightbulbs along the trail, a little narrow at first, but then it opens up into this grand hall. At the end of the trail is a pool of water  which you can swim in. You can hear the bats squealing, but cant see them. Some people we met said the trail continues through the water, where you can go as far as you can stand to tread, with your flashlight in your mouth... we werent that brave.´So we hang out in the cave, out of the sun, but it´s not even that cool, as most caves are, for about an hour, then start back. 

15 mins out we get caught in the 3pm downpour. We walk rapidly to an abandoned house with a small overhang to huddle under.. but by the time we reach it we are all very drenched. The rain lets up a little bit, but contines steadily for the next hour or so as we grin and bear it. We can see the sun up ahead, and eventually we make it there... and by the time we get back at 6pm we are almost dry. Our bodies ache. We stretch out, make more guac... and later on head into town for a big dinner.

Next day we take the 11am bus back to La Paz. It seems to be going slower than I remember the first time.. but we make it in decent time. Walk home.. thankful for something downhill... and acclimate back to city life in La Paz.

 

Tags: Mountains

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