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Published: March 13th 2006
small bronze statue
Tiahuanaco Museum in La Paz, Bolivia
Life in La Paz is definitely La Vida Loca, the pace is crazy most of the time - traffic and people every where, protests and fiestas at every turn, street vendors seeling everything imaginable and the persistent smell of the open sewer - nice. At first, I´ll admit, I hated La Paz, it was so dirty and smelly and full-on. I intended to only stay two or three days at the most before heading over to Peru, but somehow I´ve managed to stay here nearly two weeks today, and I´m planning to stay another week or two - making a month in La Paz! I would never have guessed at the start of my trip that I would spend more time in Bolivia than any other country.
My days have been spend in the following ways:
* the usual sitting inthe plaza reading and getting sunburnt (still no sign of Evo)
* wandering the streets buying souvenirs and checking out the dried llama fetuses and animal pelts in the Witches Market
* enjoying Bolivia´s contemporary artists´works, especially Mamamamani. Some of the works were for sale, but if I biught anything, I´sd probably need to take the next plane home broke.
* barracking for Bolivar in the local soccer game against The Strongest with a group of street kids and my face covered in Bolivar colours (blue and white). Bolivar won 2-0 yay!
* eating ice cream in the park
* sleeping, recovering from the Manu Chao concert heald in the open-air amphitheatre
* recovering from food poisoning, hay fever and ongoing altitude sickness (not so much fun)
* uploading my photos onto Travelblog, and replying to emails
* watching pirated DVDs in local restaurants that me and my friends take over for the evening
* struggling with my mangled spanish and Bolivian beauracracy to post stuff back to Australia and Canada
* occassionally doing the odd tour to Tiahuanaco, or Death Road mountain biking
On the bike riding - it´s the scariest road I´ve ever seen. If you go off the side, you´re probably not coming out again. In most parts, if a vehicle goes down, it stays there witht e people inside, because (a) no-one could have possibly made it out alive, and (b) how the hell are you going to get a tow truck down there? In a lot of places you can see where people have
crop fields on the altiplano
between La Paz and Tiahuanaco, Bolivia
gone over the sides, and you can´t see the bottom of the valley below, it´s that steep.
On a good day it´s a one lane dirt track. On a bad day or at night - forget about it.
Went on a guided tour of Tiahuanaco. Normally I try to avoid the herd of sheep mentality when it comes to tourist sights, but I got very little information from the Tiahuanaco museum here in La Paz, and wanted to know what I was looking at when I got out there. Turned out to be a good choice, as the guide was great, and knew everything there was to know about the site and its history. Was blown away by the huge monolith of the goddess Pachamama in the site museum. It´s about 8m high and covered with intricate carvings of other deities like Viracocha (the male equivalent of Pachamama) and a condor/man hybrid. Very cool. The rest of the archaeological site was quite interesting to wander around. Most of it is still underground, awaiting discovery, but what has been found so far is amazing.
What´s next? More La Paz - I´m going rock climbing tomorrow with a group of
the Bolivian countryside
between La Paz and Tiahuanaco, Bolivia
guys I´ve met here in town. More risking of life and limb, but that´s me - hardcore to the max (not)! After that, I might just get on a bus to Lake Titicaca and spend a day or two there before going to Cusco for a few days. No Machu Picchu - couldn´t be bothered, but will check out the smaller and lesser known ruins.
That´s all for now, more when I´ve actually done something!
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