Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Copacabana and Lake Titicaca

After La Paz, I headed to Copacabana. There are a lot of backpackers here. The city is on the shore of Lake Titicaca, the highest lake in the world, on the border with Peru.

I had heard about a hostel, Mariela’s, from a backpacker in La Paz. When I found it, it turned out to be under renovation. The hostel is covered in graffiti that guests are open to leave when they stay in the hostel. 

Despite being under renovation, there were still a few guests and the owners made room for me.
There’s a lovely lookout point on top of a hill, calvario, that overlooks the city and the lake.

At the top of Calvario, people can burn money and visit and talk to shamans who do blessings. 

Two days later I headed to Isla del sol. I started on the north side. There’s a beach with lots of backpackers camping out. There’s lots of pigs, donkeys, and cows running free, as well as tied up, kind of sad.

In the distance there are snowcapped mountains.

The first night there, I made friends with my neighbor beach campers. That night we stayed up singing Chilean songs. The night climaxed when the whole lot of campers on the beach joined in, in a large band of people singing and dancing on the beach till the wee hours.

I headed out to see the ruins and some nice views on the north side. That night I walked with some friends I’d met on the beach a bit south to another beach.

The next day I met 2 lovely Uruguayan girls. We had an interesting chat about the akashic records and unveiled some issues I was glad to bring to surface. Later that night, I woke up, restless, unable to sleep. By some crazy force, I was possessed to free a sad donkey I had seen tied up on the beach. His limited walking area was all trampled and nothing but mud.
The next day, I took a boat to the south side of the island. I saw that the donkey had been caught and tied back up again L

The south side was incredible. In the entrance to the village on the south side, there is a long staircase, next to a cascade. The village is at the top of the mountain. It is full of hostels and restaurants with spectacular views.

The next day I headed out to isla del luna. There are some ruins there and a tiny village. I had a look around on the mountain top, in the center of the island and got to see sheep and llamas. I camped out on the beach all to my own. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

La Paz, Tiwanaku, and Death Road

After Sucre, I headed to La Paz. This place is different than I expected. I liked it more than what I thought I would.

I stayed in a cheap, centrally located hostel, Solario, a well known backpacker hostel.
This is the highest city in the world. There is a lot of activity and commerce in the streets, many street vendors and tourists.

The first few days, I just hung around Lineares st. the gift shop tourist part of town. I visited Murrillo and San Francisco plaza. Did some alpaca gift shopping, got my camera repaired, and visited a friend I had met a year previously in Arequipa, Peru, Quitu. We went out to eat a few times. She showed me an amazing Italian restaurant.

Her family owns the famed museo de coca and she runs the coca café located in the 2nd floor of the museum. Coca are leaves that are popular and indigenous to this area. They are masticated or made into a tea, its affects are used to alleviate altitude sickness, give energy, and take away hunger. Cocaine is a synthetic derivative of the leaf. Coca leaves are illegal in the states.

La paz has a reputed night life. One night I headed in search of Traffic, an electronic disco. On the way, I saw a fire had been set to some canvas covered activist site in the middle of the street. That was weird. I got to the club. It was mediocre.
Another night, I went out to an English pub down the street with a pretty French girl I had met in the hostel kitchen. She seemed quiet, until drunk. The pub was lively and rambunctious. A man in a dress, people dancing on the bar, shots of shangai (a powerful bolivian alcohol), and mystery sprite bottle shots given by the bartender were all included. A few times I looked over to see the French girl leaning over to kiss the bartender, so that was kind of disappointing. The bar closed relatively early and when she and I were out on the street level, she told me there was another bar down the road. I told her I was done and heading back to the hostel. “Well fuck you”, was her response as she walked away. I never saw her after that. That was unexpected.

One day I took a tour to Tiwanaku, a nearby ruins site.

The day after I took a 60km downhill bike tour of death road, a road famed for, in the past, having had many car/ buses fall off the side of steep cliffs. It was very green. There were waterfalls. The sites were nice. All concentration on the road was essential for staying on the bike as the road had rocky, wet, muddy, and slippery parts, most all of which was downhill.


The next day, I helped Quitu set up for a poetry event she was having that night, that included an array of eccentric poets and musicians. I agreed to do a fire show and be the event photographer.

Sex seemed to be a common event in my hostel dormitory. On three different nights I was awakened to the sounds of drunken young folk and neighboring beds creaking. The first occasion was somewhat amusing. Two drunk girls had gone into my roommates bed (he wasn’t in it). About five minutes after they had finished, the roommate whose bed it was, walks in, turns on the lights, sees the two naked girls in his bed, turns off the lights and apologizes, telling them to please enjoy their sex, he would sleep in another unoccupied bed. One of the girls, runs out of the room into her room. The other girls calmly proceeds to haphazardly look for her clothes and chit chat in a colloquial manner with my roommate. Unsuccessful in her search, she turns on the light, fully nude. The conversation continues and she tells my roommate not to look at her, and looks at me and tells me the same thing, in Spanish of course. She puts on her underwear, turns off the light, and proceeds to the next room to join her female companion. A few minutes later, music is heard coming from that room. Minutes after that, a dark figure walks into my room, looks around, goes into the next room, looks around there, comes back into my room and then exits. I believe she was lost, possibly drunk.

La paz, never a dull moment.