Broke in Bolivia

Trip Start Mar 29, 2010
Trip End Sep 01, 2010

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Flag of Bolivia  , La Paz,
Saturday, July 17, 2010

Woo hoo! We successfully crossed the border from Peru to Bolivia. We heard that this was where things started to get rough including the bus rides, climate, food and people, but also where things got really cheap. We were headed to Copacabana which sits on Lake Titicaca, the highest large body of water. When we arrived it was quite windy and cold and the people were very indigenous. After we found our hostel for 7 dollars a night (bargoon) we headed out to check out the town! We were greeted with gusts of wind filled with sand from the wind storm off of the beach. Fun! The thing to see when you go to Copacabana on Lake Titicaca is to go to Isle Del Sol, which is supposed to be beautiful and scattered with ancient Inca ruins, but we wouldn't know because all of the tours were cancelled due to the giant wind storm, sigh.... Anywho, we lucked out because the next day in Copacabana was the La Paz festival where all of the indigenous people from every surrounding town were in Copacabana for the parade to celebrate La Paz’s independence.  The Bolivians aren’t the prettiest bunch, but they sure were interesting and we immediately fell in love with the ladies hats. Kind of like a top hat but rounder and you have to balance in on your head. After the parade the locals gathered in the square, drank beer and gossiped. The ladies sat with the ladies and the men stood up and stayed separate, just like a grade school dance.

We hopped on the bus that afternoon, which by the way, made us get off for some unknown reason when we came into the next town. While we were buying some snacks, we looked up and saw our bus floating across the lake on a barge...haha. We immediately hopped on the passenger ferry once we realized we were about to be left behind.

Next stop, La Paz! One of the best things in La Paz is the witches market, where you can get everything from a dried baby Alpaca fetus to the best deals on Alpaca wool winter things. We stocked up on scarves, leg warmers, gloves, sweaters, blankets and a local indigenous Cholita top hat. Hence the very large extra bag we have been carrying around for the remainder of the trip. Other La Paz highlights include the jail from the book "Marching Powder". Very dodgy jail in downtown La Paz, that only has prison guards on the outside and none on the inside. The inside is like a little city within walls. Money is power in this jail and the rich have their own apartments while the poor sleep on the ground and the place is rife with drugs. There are stores and a kindergarten and women and children are allowed to come and go as they please to see their husbands or fathers in prison. It is possible to do tours of the prison if you pay off the guards. You get two huge bodyguards that are ex-murderers to escort you around. Dave tried to go and see this crazy prison twice, but it didn’t work out. First there was an “incident” inside the prison and they weren’t allowing visitors, and the second time they wanted the entrance money before they entered and Dave wasn’t about to part with his money before guaranteed entrance. Another funny thing we did was go to a Cholita wrestling match. Basically, indigenous ladies were wrestling in their traditional outfits with tourists and locals cheering them on. Yesss!

A very bumpy overnight bus ride later, I mean bumpy to the point of being delirious with laughter, we arrived in Uyuni, the starting point to our 3 day “Salar de Uyuni” tour. This included a tour of the beautiful alien like Bolivian salt flats, sleeping in a hotel made completely of salt, the most amazing sunsets set against the stark white of the salt ground and the eerie purple, pink and orange of the setting sun, touring Fish Island with its giant cacti, visiting various sulphur lagoons with pink flamingos, steaming geysers shooting out of the ground at 5am, hot springs and a LOT of active volcanoes...oh ya, and one very impromptu Abba dance party with a group of 60-70 year Danish travelers!  The Salar de Uyuni was one of the most beautiful places we have ever seen so I think the pictures will be able to speak for themselves. Next stop, Chile!
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