Pictures from these two days can be found in the La Paz set, since that is where base camp is.
The last couple of days have been hectic as we went on a tour to Isla del Sol on Lake Titcaca yesterday and to Tiwanaku today for a "1/2 day" excursion that went well into the afternoon. I now sit in my room, on my hard, hard bed, listening to drunk Bolivians scream-singing (Carnival starts here tomorrow, just in time for us to get the heck out of here!).
So, Titicaca (which means "gray cat", much to my disappointment) was beautiful, and some of the journey was really lovely country-side, but, basically, we traveled for 10 hours (5 hours both ways) to go visit an Inca temple that isn't much to look at for 30 minutes. It was cool to be where Inca were and to see their temple, and the boat ride there was awesome, and we drank from a spring of eternal life, and we got to do a little shopping and had a great lunch. There's also the very beginning and the very end of the trip, where you go through the city that feeds into La Paz, called El Alto, where you sit in crazy traffic, made worse by preparations for Carnival and the anniversary of the town celebration, where you really just become so on-edge that you become exhausted, so it's sort of a even-out day for me at that point. I think that Chris is in about the same boat. However, now I can say that I have sailed on Titicaca, been to Copacabana, and visited Isla del Sol, so I consider it a day well spent.
Oh, also, our tour guide is kind of insane. We had him all 3 days and he firmly believes that dinosaurs and people walked the Earth at the same time, that crop circles were made by aliens, and that the rapture will happen in 2017 and that FOR SURE something bad will happen next year (2012). By the end of the day I was really trying hard not to tell him that he was nuts, but I managed to make it. It was amusing for a while, until it made me start to think that I should really consider pretty much every other thing he was telling us about where we were and the culture and stuff, and sure enough, Wiki has proven him wrong on a number of accounts. Still, I am happy to have seen what I have seen in person. *sigh* We Have piece of paper with lots of interesting facts in Spanish that he wanted us to read. I think we are going to translate it and post it here after we get back as an amusing exercise.
Bolivia is actually really cool. I don't feel unsafe here at all. Most of it is really beautiful, and some of it is a positive slum, but you have to expect that in a 3rd world country. La Paz is possibly the most beautiful city that I have ever seen at night. El Alto is insane and I would not ever think to go there without a handler. The landscape is simply stunning here though and people should not be afraid to come and see it for themselves.
Here's some sights from the Titicaca trip.
Copacabana and Titicaca (don't be confused, the lake is so huge that you can't see the other side, this is just a small passage to another island):
Candle offerings in the Copacabana church. One of these candles was lit for a dear departed friend, The Whew, who left us while I was away:
Reid Dragon Boats:
4,000 year old terracing, that is still in use:
Inside the Incan temple:
Today we went to Tiwanaku, which is a culture thousands of years older and before the Inca. I think the place had bad ju-ju because I entered the area, got a really bad stomach-ache which stayed throughout the whole time that we were there, only getting worse, and disappeared minutes after we left. :-) Anyway, the temple was largely in ruins thanks to the Spanish tearing it down to use the stones of a 3,500 year old building to build a church (damned conquistadors!). However, some monoliths were still in tact and the site was very interesting, given what was left. The Bolivian archeologists are rebuilding some of the walls, and excavating a bunch of it, so as long as funding keeps showing up, they should be able to do really great things with the site. Then we came home in the afternoon and packed up to come home.
Here are some sights from today:
El Alto traffic from our car. This goes on for miles:
Sun Door (evidently, it's a calendar):
Monolith action (these are calendars):
Circled-up, chanting, ritual-making people who our guide (of course) thought was contacting aliens (I'm pretty sure the Tiwanakans would have somehow made these folks into a calendar too, if they were here):
Here's a wall:
and a door:
These poor folks were just trying to get ahead (in the temple of the underworld):
Some Bolivian ladies:
and some men (they were getting their blessings before Carnival so were in their Sunday finest):
And lastly, this is just a cool pic from the side of the art museum in La Paz:
Anyway, that about rounds out this adventure. I think Chris has a couple more posts to do about the Atacama, and I'm sure he'll post here when he uploads pictures from this trip, or possibly been others that we have done in the past. I'll do a wrap up at some point when I decide to reflect on what I have seen, so if you are RSSing, keep it up, and if you are checking in, well, it might be cool to check in every once in a while. We intend to use this blog for all of our trips, so there should be more content rolling in from time to time. If I get wifi in the airports, I will update about our progress for our 23 hours of traveling back home, and I am sure that you can expect a post on how much I love my bed! So, stay tuned!