Beautiful Backward Bolivia

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South America » Bolivia » Potosí Department » Uyuni
September 19th 2007
Published: November 7th 2007
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Where In The World Are We?

Bolivia is, by a long shot, the least developed country we have visited so far. The conditions are rougher - lodging is a lot more basic; clean, flushing toilets are rare; hot water even more so; food is way more risky; and only 10% of the country’s roads are paved.

The temporary discomfort is, however, rewarded with the most unique and authentic culture this continent has to offer. The vast majority of this country’s people are the indigenous tribes of the Quechua and Aymara people. The women, from girls to grandmothers, wear exuberant, large, pleated dresses of various colours; thick, llama wool stockings; and bowler hats over their black, double plaits. All of them remarkably resembling each other like a never-ending Russian matryoshka doll set. Many of them speak only their indigenous languages, and those that do speak Spanish speak it in their own very different and quite hilarious way, as almost every word ends in “eeps”! Watching them, speaking to them and learning about their ways of life is more than intriguing, it is an insight in to who we all are at the simplest level.

And if that doesn’t make it all worthwhile, at least you can enjoy how cheap it is - R10 buys you a hotel bed for the night, R4 a three-course meal, and for just a little more you can get yourself a whole new wardrobe of clothes, assuming you’re into alpaca wool jerseys with little llama decorations.

Odometer at start: 33 900 km
Odometer now: 52 741 km

Additional photos below
Photos: 32, Displayed: 23


Getting LostGetting Lost
Getting Lost

While looking for something else, we ended up stumbling on this small rural community on the side of Lake Titicaca, and spent the day there instead, meeting the locals and discovering their intriguingly ways of life.
Titicaca WomenTiticaca Women
Titicaca Women

These boots were made for walking!
Having a LaughHaving a Laugh
Having a Laugh

The only women in the community that spoke Spanish (the rest speak the ancient Inca language - Aymara) and Tom having fun as he taught some English words in exchange for some Aymara.
La Paz - Takes your Breath AwayLa Paz - Takes your Breath Away
La Paz - Takes your Breath Away

Sprawling along the mountains up at a crazy 4000m, this city gave us breathing problems.
Back from the FutureBack from the Future
Back from the Future

Indigenous woman on her cellphone...It's all just too confusing.

The two of us with our special lice-combs after discovering we´d picked up lice somewhere along the way. On closer inspection of the locals whilst on busses, etc, we found out that half this city has lice too!
Gifts for the PachamamaGifts for the Pachamama
Gifts for the Pachamama

Indigenous Bolivians worship mother-nature, or Pachamama as they call her, and make offers in her honour. These include coca leaves, candy, monopoly money, and beer, but above all, gifts of llama foetuses will ensure the continuation of life. These, by the way, can all be picked up at your local corner witch-doctor shop here.
Rosh HashanaRosh Hashana
Rosh Hashana

With not a single synagogue in La Paz, the best we could do on this day is order some humus at an Israeli restaurant we found.
Little Bo BeepLittle Bo Beep
Little Bo Beep

On the way south as things got more and more undeveloped we found this lone woman looking after her sheep, and stopped to talk to her, and listen to her stories.

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