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Published: November 26th 2009
Nov 8, 2009
Through prior research, we knew of an ancient city, Tiwanaku, near La Paz. We were not sure the best way to get there, so we booked a day trip with our Loki Hostel. The tour included transportation, lunch, and a guide (the best attribute because it was not self-explanatory).
On our tour bus we met Amy (U.K), Dominique (Seattle), and Tim (Australia).
Amy was “killing time” in La Paz waiting on her friends to arrive from Rurrenabaque. They had been stuck there over a week because of the bad weather. We were very glad we decided not to go because a week or more waiting for an airplane would have caused us to miss quite a bit of other destinations. Additionally, the bus route is the most dangerous in the world; the week we were in La Paz a bus went over the cliff!
Dominique was a Canadian now living in Seattle. She was very excited about Seattle and it was nice to talk to someone from the “area.” She was going alone to a different jungle near Cochabamba to do some volunteer work.
Tim was also stuck in La Paz because his
small bag was stolen after his Uyuni salt flat tour. The contents included all of his credit cards and his Australian passport. Unfortunately, there is no Aussie Embassy in Bolivia so he was facing at least six weeks of waiting for a solution. Luckily, he was going to get permission to cross the border to Peru in order to settle his dilemma in Lima. No fun!
Our guide was a really nice Bolivian who dressed like a mixture of a professor/archeologist. He was extremely informative and a well-prepared guide.
On our drive to Tiwanaku we saw our first glimpse of Lake Titicaca. After about 2 hours, we arrived at Tiwanaku and started our tour in the museum. Our guide explained the timeline of where the Tiwanaku civilization held power and how they predated the Incan empire.
The city was founded a couple hundred years Before Christ and thrived until around 800 AD (population could have been more than one million). It’s believed that they were not killed off, rather left because of lack of resources. Their influence stretched through ancient Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina. On later tours of Peru (Lake Titicaca and Machu Picchu) they mentioned the
Tiwanaku civilization and its impact on the Incans. The most fascinating fact was even though the Tiwanakans predated the Incans they were more advanced in math and astronomy.
After we walked through the first museum we headed to an open-air display vault with an intact Tiwanakan statue. It was displayed very well and Rumi and I couldn’t help but compare the similarities to the Easter Island statues (One theory of the Easter Island inhabitant’s disappearance was running out of resources and sailing to South America - but they are probably not related!).
Upon arrival to the actual archeological site, we found a half-dug-up site that looked like the Germans digging for the Ark of the Covenant in Indiana Jones. The site is still under excavation and restoration. There is considerable work to be done uncovering a pyramid structure, but they have completely uncovered a ritual platform containing the Puerte del Sol (The Gateway of the Sun). This gateway contains inscriptions of a perfect lunar calendar. Very fascinating.
Our guide took us to a hole in a carved block. Skeptical on the attraction to a hole, we waited in suspense. He went around to the other side and
started talking in a loud voice. The Tiwanakans had carved a ear-shaped tunneled hole that amplified a human's voice - very very cool.
Later we visited the Template Semi Subterraneo - a pit with intricately carved head statues. It’s a great view through the pit to the ritual platform. I believe the other gate in the pictures is the Puerta del Luna (Gateway to the moon).
After our site visit we had lunch nearby. They had fish, chicken, or llama. Rumi and I opted for the fish and chicken (we had llama on our Uyuni tour).
After lunch we had one more smaller site to visit. It appeared to be in complete disarray and no protection against thievery or weather damage. The stones were shaped like the letter “H” and had very interesting cuts that contained metal clamps to hold them together.
After the tour, we loaded up and headed back to La Paz. That night Amy went with us to the Japanese, Thai, and Indian restaurant. They gave us our own Tatami room and we had fantastic Thai and Japanese food. Amy had recently traveled back to England for a family emergency and consequently been
split from her friends - now stranded in the jungle. We were very happy to be with her while her friends were awaiting transportation back to La Paz. Afterwards, we went to Happy Hour at our Loki Hostel. We had drinks with double shots for the price of one.
Side Note: We decided to split this day’s entry from the La Paz blog because it was very unique, but it actually occurred during our La Paz trip.
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