Published: October 25th 2009October 25th 2009
You´ve probably seen this shot before. This was the lost Incan city of Machu Pichu. It´s been found.
Walking down the Prado (the main road) in the heart of La Paz I can´t help thinking of Detroit. My memory isn´t envoked for the similarities, but for the stark differences. And for that matter I might as well picture Any City, USA.
There is a life here that permeates every corner. Every park bench. The life is outside. Walking down the street. Selling vegetables while huddling over a bowl of soup and a plate of rice. It´s eating ice cream at 10 in the morning, and walking hand in hand with a relative or a friend. It fills the futbol (soccer) stadium and doesn´t stop singing, despite a loss. It rallies in a square-- the cause, for a new road. People work, but they don´t seem to work. The children go to school, but they´re also seen huddled together, one strumming a guitar-- eating salteñas and drinking Fanta.
And so I think of my own country. There are people on the street, but they seem to have purpose. They´re going here or there, no time to stop and chat. And ice cream is out of the question. Even in the busiest of cities (I´ve never been to NY)
Cheap labor on the waters of the highest navigable lake in the world (for whatever that´s worth).
I frequently sense a lack of life. Perhaps it´s my own jaded view, but it is mine nonetheless.
There is a market here every Sunday. It stretches for a country mile. However, there are also markets every other day of the week. I buy an apple for a boliviano (15 cents) and continue the dizzying walk past whole chickens, a line of chorizo, and llama fetuses.
A salsa dance competition atop a stage constructed at the center of the Prado attracts a hundred and fifty spectators. Another night there is a modern art show where young intellectuals sit cross-legged and contemplate meaning.
To arrive in La Paz, as we have, you´ll need a map. Draw a line from Cuzco to Machu Pichu. Not so fast. It´ll take 3 buses and a three hour walk along the train tracks to arrive at the base of the ruins. Now spend the next two days mysteriously huddled over a toilet. In fact, begin this unfortunate sequence on the walk. From Machu Pichu, draw a slow line back to Cuzco and then on to Puno and across the border. Make sure to walk across the border. And because you´re American (assumption)
Failed entry for the Travel Bureau of Bolivia: Lake Titicaca division.
you´ll have to pay $135 for a visa, along with proof of income, an itinerary, yellow fever vaccination, and a hostel reservation. Great! Now in Bolivia, spend a few days on the shore of Lake Titicaca. Eat trout. Paddle a canoe. Eat more trout. Then walk 17k to the next town and hire a boat to bring you to Isla del Sol. Walk from the south to the north end of the island, and as the sun is setting, take up the offer from the 8 and 10 year old boys who want to paddle you across the bay to your final destination. Trust me, you won´t be able to resist.
From Isla del Sol, head back to the mainland and catch a bus to La Paz. The bus will have to cross a narrow channel on the lake, and therefore will board a raft, one amongst many floating buses traversing the minor impediment.
Whew! You´ve made it. Now that you´re here you can´t miss the opportunity to take a 65k downhill mountain bike ride on a road called ¨The Death Road¨. Don´t forget to pick-up your survivor t-shirt as proof of survival.
Now as I finish
Proof of our support of local business. These boys were very persuasive. The boy on the left is a 40 year-old-man trapped in a 10 year olds´body. I broke their seat. On accident. He yelled ´putaaa´when it happened.
this tale I´m a few minutes away from an 18 hour bus ride north to the jungle outpost of Rurrenabaque. We´ll be sweating for the next seven days with our fingers crossed for a glimpse of macaws, caiman, capybara, anaconda, and more as we return to sea level and disappear amongst the trees...
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