2002 - Bolivia
Saturday 3rd August
Arrived Sucre at about 10am. Etienne despatched us to the Cambio but didn't come with us and it took us quite some time to find one. We bumped into Miki, Lynne and Miriam who were also having problems and then Jenny and Graham. Eventually Jenny overheard some Australians talking about changing money and asked them where to go. We came out virtually millionaires in Bolivianos! We then went on with Miriam, Lynne and Miki to explore the market and then went for lunch at the hotel. After lunch Adie didn't feel too good and went to bed whilst Jill went to the cemetery with Jenny and Graham, Etienne had recommended that we go there as it is so fascinating. There were enormous mausoleums as well as multi storey burials with little "shrine windows" for each person buried. There are some five or six buried on top of one another.
Sunday 4th August
Visited market at Tarbuco following one and a half hour drive over the Alta Plano. Market is a hive of activity mostly for essentials for locals who travel in small coaches or more commonly in the back of lorries from the surrounding sparsely populated area. There were a host of different local costumes worn, especially of headgear. Also of interest was the odd pig wandering around together with many dogs. Then one of those strange things - the Bristol contingent, seated with us at a cafe on the pavement, were greeted by 2 other Bristol headteachers known to Glenda!
Jill bought a camera case - black with bright tapestry.
Lunch was at a former house set up to provide a relatively safe eating place for foreign tourists. Good peanut soup followed by a pleasant main course of meatballs and rice and manoc.
Monday 5th August
we left at about 11 for a flight to La Paz but were delayed again for about an hour. In the afternoon a walking tour of La Paz to see the practicalities of where to eat, where to change money, and where to find colonial buildings and some museums.
A quick ice cream sundae at Dumbos a chain of Bolivian ice cream parlours.
Still suffering from altitude sickness so ate a relatively indifferent meal at the hotel with Jenny and Graham who were also under the weather, and later by virtually everyone else..
Tuesday 6th August
Very bad night and both feeling grim with heads and Jill with stomach also. The ruins at Tiwanaco were reached by a journey of an hour and a half over the altiplano. Initially this was through the suburb of El Alto where the city continues to grow through half finished buildings on unmade roads stretching for perhaps a couple of miles before giving way to small farms on the flat land. Some 65 km later we arrived at the small village of Tiwanaku. The guide (Neme) was very fluent in English which he had learnt at University in La Paz. He came from the Aymari tribe which was the civilisation which had built the temples in the 4- 9th centuries AD.
We first visited an explanatory museum. The whole culture centred around the farming calendar. This comprised 3months for planting and at the end a month for offerings to mother earth to bring fertility for the coming year. For some reason this was a year of 11 months a theme that appeared throughout the ruins. These were relatively small. Originally there had been a pyramid of 9 layers but only a small part of 3 remained and were exposed. On top was a pool that was used to reflect the stars. In the main courtyard was a monolith, the Sun Gate (much smaller than we had expected) and some intriguing loud speaker stones which considerably amplified the voice but also acted as a hearing aid the other way.
Wednesday 7th August
Day at leisure in La Paz. We took it very easy. We spent time looking at Alpaca jumpers and then lunch at the Colon Cafe! Not bad croque monsieur. Whilst there about 20 tanks, armoured cars and lorries with soldiers went by. These we imagine were part of the ceremony of yesterday when the new president was inaugurated. Then a visit to an office stationers and a quick coffee at Macdonalds .We then visisted a group of 4 museums at a total price of 40p. They were in what we think are a group of Spanish villas of the 18th century. Centred around courtyards and with balconies.. The museums covered the history of the country, its loss of coastline in the 1870s and the gold and silver artefacts from Tiwanaku.
Evening in hotel with reasonable meal - Jo and others sent out for a pizza.
Thursday 8th August
Really severe migraine laid Adrian for entire day which was another journey across the altiplano for an hour and a half the last 20mins being on unmade road to a hamlet with a modest looking hotel at the lakeside. This was in fact a very pleasant lodge like hotel with log fires in the main areas and oil filled electric radiators in the bedrooms. We immediately took a boat for an hour to an island in the smaller lake that we bordered. We were greeted by numerous children who mobbed those giving out sweets. Then a quick visit to a very small museum/exhibition of Thor Heyadal. More souvenirs and then back to the hotel. A very pleasant meal in the evening.
Friday 9th August
We went for an early morning walk around the village square. We met a group of cows being herded across the square and then a class of children being given a botany lesson. They greeted us with a chorus of Buenos Dies. Shortly after we we met by a girl of perhaps 10 who had spoken with Jill yesterday, and wanted her photo taken. The photo was a success but trying to get her name and address to send her a photo proved too great a challenge
A drive across the altiplano around the lake for some distance crossing the narrow strait between the two lakes by a small ferry, our empty coach going on another. We moved on to Copacabana, after which the beach at Rio is named. An attractive Spanish style church and lots of young Europeans, a a few hostels. The cars and other possessions were lined up and highly adorned with gaudy plastic decorations to be blessed by the priest.
Lunch was in a very attractive restaurant where we met for the last time a couple we had met three times before.