Where Llamas are the Kings of Rock & Roll.
It is dusk when we arrive.
Takya Hotel de Piedra aka The Hotel of Rock.
Mountain peak overlooking us...village next to the Salar below.
Sometimes ya gotta play the right music...before you get your socks off.
A teenage girl lets us in...massive bedroom...the silence of corridors in the middle of nowhere.
No other tourists. We are yet again the only guests.
In high season this place would be pumping.
For over three days now we haven't seen another tourist...not one!!!
I wander among the rock ruins of the burnt village behind...a stone tower...the bleet of sheep in a deep rocky pen...llamas settling for the night further up...sunset descending in orange and red.
We are near the Chilean border. When Chile invaded last time, they burnt the village.
I cannot remember when that war was. Our guide in Sucre and Potosi told us of the Chileans invading Bolivia and defeating them because the Bolivians were busy partying during a fiesta. Was this the war when Chile annexed Bolivia's access to the Pacific Ocean making it landlocked? I wonder. If so,
this village was burnt long ago.
Or was it a more recent incursion like bandits in the night?
Whenever it was, animosities run deep and Bolivians have long memories.
A llama peers over a rock at me as if it knows what I'm thinking.
I continue climbing the rocks taking it all in.
There is a silence...a stillness...a quiet.
A taste in the air...an intensity of light.
Yet the light is a burnt orange. Even distorting the tint of green grass...colouring the air.
A stillness of majestic volcanoes and mountains all around me. As I gaze at their splendour I feel their spirits watching me...not in arrogance but in benificence...an ethereal solitude one can only find at altitude.
There is a breeze so light it barely caresses my hair...touches my face...cold hands on my cheek.
It's as if the sun by setting has taken its warmth away...the chill of evening spreading a cold blanket to end the day.
Denise is not one to worry but she may wonder where I am.
There are only the four of us in the hotel...better get back and let
them know...smiling at the mountain ahead...topped with snow.
We saw one car today...stranded on the flooded Salar. Valerio pointed it out. There was a guy kicking the car and then two figures walking in different directions. Where's my 18-200mm lens (that died in Peru) when I need it!!! Valerio thinks they are locals as it looks like an old ute.
We saw four children earlier in the day at the coral cave. The cave with the algae like fabric in various shapes hanging like curtains or shawls from the ceilings and walls...rock hard it was...still wondering how that could be.
Quinoa for dinner again today. Quinoa soup...quinoa with llama steaks...I reckon I've had quinoa every day for about a month. Still like it though. Grows best in Bolivia they say...the World's latest trendy super cereal...see it growing everywhere. Pass the quinoa please I hear you say.
Then the lights go out. Something to do with an electrical storm.
So we continue by candlelight.
I don't know about you but to be on a mountainside in Bolivia in a house made of rock...departing for bed by candlelight...snug as two bugs in a rug...doesn't
get better than this!
****** Llama Dawn
I rise before dawn. After the insane sunset over the Salar under Volcan Thunupa's orange wing...I want more...I want an iridescent dawn.
I dress and creep silently across stone floors to the front door of the hotel...slipping out to the burnt village for elevated views.
The sun rises...casting a yellow glow over the Salar and the village below.
I see a white face behind me...lips puckered like a kiss...then twisting into a grin.
The face ducks behind a rock and then peeps over again...our eyes locking in a stare.
There must be about 100 llamas resting on their knees in a massive dry rock pen...stirring ever so slightly...some looking at me...others too sleepy to care.
So I ask them to pose for me...men, women and children.
Every now and then one comes really close...checking me out...ears adorned with strands of coloured wool...some with baubles in their hair.
I feel I should be handing out lipsticks to some of them...mascara and eyeliners to others...beers to the men.
I start humming a tune...a sweet ballad to the flock.
big boy comes and spits at me,
"Cut out the wailing or I'll knock off your block.
Don't you know by now Buster?
Us llamas only like to rock."
Relax & Enjoy,
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