I’ve added the Bolivia just in case you thought it was La Paz Mexico, which is a mistake our travel agent made and booked us flights there instead.
We flew into the amazing La Paz (travelling through Miami en route). As we circled the high altitude city we were greeted with a spectacular sunset over the sister city El Alto. We found out that El Alto started as slums of La Paz as farmers flocked to the big city, and the population grew so big it is now a city in its own right. With its own government, two orchestras, law courts and new buildings going up at the speed of light.
But before I go any further I know what you want to see.....Llamas!!! (cos thats what I wanted to see). Llamas are the national animal and have been used from prehistoric times for food, transport and offerings. (see llama offerings later on!).
Not to mention the altitude at 3650 metres (11,800 ft), I had a few days of headaches, but poor greg got very ill with a cold, nausea and more.
As I told our hotel staff:
"Mi maredo es enfirma” (My husband is sick)
Actually I said "Mi mareda" (my wife) and got horrified looks until someone realised and corrected me!
Created by president Evo Morales to help the poorer community with cheap travel into La Paz itself. (La Paz is a maze of bad traffic and tiny streets).
It was also election time whilst we were there and Greg fell in love with the current leader Evo Morales. Originally born to an Aymara family in the country, he came into politics to help the indigenous people. Advocating issues affecting poor indigenous communities, land reform, and redistribution of gas wealth. We marched along side his supporters (they were going our direction) and Greg even got a poster.
Ola! Esta bien? Buenos Dias. Mi gusta dos sultanes! Yum.
Saltena’s are the food of choice here, yum yum. Whilst we found out later on Bolivia is not known for its food, La Paz luckily had a lot of great options.....I'll fill you in on the rest of Bolivia later!
Another tourist speciality is Alpaca meat, and Llama meat. The former is actually quite nice. Llama however is not really all that great. Bit tough and chewy and tasteless. They are much cuter alive….although if you head to the witches market you’ll see they are put to good use to tell the future too!
Whilst Bolivian coffee is sought out by westerners for the great altitude beans, it is sadly not embraced by the local Bolivians. Coffee is normally nescafe or worse (yes there is a worse coffee!). However I did manage to find a coffee shop that sold coffee grown up in the Yungas (jungle) areas of Bolivia. I tried to talk greg into doing self guided, adventure into the unknown, touring coffee plantations of the Yungas whilst speaking pigeon spanish....oddly enough he wasn't keen!
However one tour we did do was Tiwanaku
You didn’t think I’d let this post go without some history did you!?
Well as you know I’m a history buff, so I was intrigued to hear about the Tiwanaku site near Lake Titicaca.
So we’ve heard all about the Incan civilisation however what I found out was they were not prehistoric, nor really ancient either. Actually the Incans were only around from circa 1300 CE to 1500 C.E. Quite recent really.
But, before them we had the Tiwanaku from 300 BCE to 1000 CE, 13 centuries of history as opposed to the 2 centuries of Incan history.
The people spread from Bolivia to Peru, Chile, and out to Argentina. The centre of their government and religion was Tiwanaku on the shores of the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca.
Tiwanaku is a UNESCO site and amazing to see, huge statues carved with little details of back muscles, embroidered fish on the clothing. This site still needs excavating however due to government bureaucracy there is no funding to unearth more ; (
Highlights were seeing the solar gate with solstice markings on it, functioning as a calendar when the sun hits it, lighting up what day of the year it is!
Then my favourite was the main temple has a big shallow pool, confusing scholars for years. Finally they realised it was a way to star gaze without craning their necks. The water would reflect the stars and the priests could look down into it.