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Bolivia

BOLIVIA | Tuesday, 5 June 2007 | Views [967] | Comments [2]

Our travels have now taken us into Bolivia. A bizarre place of extreme beauty, harrowing poverty and impotent economy. Peru has about 50% unemployment so I sudder to think what it is hear.

We started our time here with 2 nights on the Isle de Sol (island of the sun) on the sth end of lake titicaca. Some of the most amazing view from the tiny village on the top of the hills. photos explain this place much better than I can. There were no cars, and we ate woodfired pizza by candle light in a restaurant with no electricity. It was a brilliant couple of days and much nicer than puno (the peruvian side of the lake).

Then bused to La Paz to find a hectic, chaotic city that was less hospitable than we expected. The city itself is uninspiring but is used to launch trips to some of the most facinating places. We have teamed up with a group of 3 sydney girls who were doing the same thing as we were, and were looking for some male company after the got mugged in La Paz earlier that week. We spent 3 days on a pampas tour in the amazon basin chasing anacondas (we didnt find any) fishing for parahnas and swimming with pink dolphins. All while being ferried around in a river gondola. Brilliant. Again photos will follow. It was a very relaxing 3 days. The bus ride to get there was pretty hairy though. 19hrs in a local bus, nearly getting left behind at the very short dinner stops and finally getting vomitted on by a local who didnt bat an eyelid! All said, a bolivian bus ride like this is almost a right of passage. It was quite the experience. We were very glad to pay extra for a 1hr flight back to la paz.

Yesterday we finally road the "most dangerous road in the world" which is a major attraction out of La Paz. I missed out the week before because I had the inevitable case of the trots. Its a brilliant 68km mountain bike ride that drops about 3500m in altitude. It was surreal to see all the monuments to people who have died in accidents there. 90 last year alone! They closed the road 6months ago now that a newer, safer road was completed after 15years of construction. All that said, it was a wonderful day of great scenery and semi extreme bike riding.

The salt flats are next..................................................

9/6/07 The 3 day Salt flats tour from Uyuni (12hrs sth of La Paz) was brilliant, quite a mixture of experiences. We spent 6, 9 and 13 hrs respectively in a 1980s jeep with 9 people squeezed into it, so lots of numb bums and travel weary people. However, we saw some of the most spectacular scenery imaginable. I have loaded some pictures so check them out under "Bolivia". It was like we were on another planet with huge salt flats, giant cactus, salt lakes, thermal springs, geisers, volcanos and bizarre rock formations. Our jeep only broke down once and only cost us 10 mins. The girls on our tour who we have been travelling with had some food poisioning so that made the trip interesting.

Now in Potosi, today we went on a tour of a silver mine. Very crazy, the tunnels are tiny, we crawled on hands and knees for 1.5hrs. Before this we got kitted up in our mining gear and went to the market to buy dynamite, fuses and detonators plus coca leaves to give to the miners as presents. This cost us about 20 bolivianos ($3 AUD!). Imagine doing that in aus, buying enough dynamite to blow up a bus and the main ingredient in cocaine all for $3. And 8 year old children can do that! Crazy! It was also a big celebration for the miners today because they sacrificed llamas to Pacha mamma (mother earth) and Tio (the devil - the uncle of the underground) to bring good luck for the next year. Spilling llama blood is supposed to stop spilling the blood of miners. It was brutal, they cut their throats, collected the blood, then threw it all over the buildings and mine enterance for good luck. Not of the faint hearted. We then blew up our dynamite after getting photos with lit fuses. Needless to say some of our tour group needed to change there reg grundies after that. Public liability insurance is not a bit issue in Bolivia!

........................................................................

One last entry to finish off Bolivia.  After Potosi, we spent a week in Sucre (the "half" capital) doing a spanish course. Its one of the most beautiful cities we have been to and was a great place to relax, learn some spanish, eat steak and drink red wine.  It we very different to the rest of Bolivia!  However, because there is a large student population, there are constant protests.  All are pretty harmless, but on one night we were in the plaza after class and the riot police started throwing tear gas around.  Needless to say we made ourselves scarce.  No danger really but kinda crazy!

After sucre we spend a couple of non descript days in Cochabumba, tried to extend our visas, but they tried to charge us 165 bs.  So we said stuff that, and when we crossed the boarder, we only had to pay a fine of 30 bs.  Gotta love Bolivian thinking.

To finish off, we spent 3 cracking nights in La Paz.  The city really grew on us by the end and it was a little sad to leave.  Met up with Grace and Pip who we met in NYC and had a great time.  The musical intrument museum was lots of fun.

See "Peru" for my next entry!

Tags: On the Road

Comments

1

Simmo,
I'll be disappointed if you didn't give 'em a Roy and HG style "HELLO BOLIVIA!" when you arrived.
Good to see you are having what sounds like an awesome trip.
The grizzly old west prospector beard suited you. I can almost imagine you saying "con tarnit" or somesuch.

  Mui Jun 13, 2007 3:18 PM

2

Castles,

Really dug the cycling kit, almost matched ur bike pants, blue riding top and AM/FM radio. Love your work mate, some of the scenery looks breathtaking! The Sydney siders got mugged, how funny! Hope your well mate and seems as though Miss Webber is not too far from reaching you, keep up the good commentary - the less photos of Matty and Sheepy the better!

Keep it up
Pants

  Pants Man Jun 19, 2007 10:53 AM

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