Friday, February 8, 2013

Friday, Feb 8th, La Paz, Bolivia

Copacabana is one beautiful little town.  In 1968, Jacque Cousteau mounted an trip here certain he would find a lost city of gold from the Inca empire.  What he found were the remains of ruins from the Island of the Sun which had been placed in the shallows off the island when the lake levels dropped during a global warming which took place in 1100 AD,and which led to the eventual disappearance of the Tiwanakans (more later).
The road to Bolivia starts with a bus load of coughing, tired travelers.  Despite feeling I had given it to all of them,  I was able to summon up the one hour of sleep's energy and use it and lots of water to keep the coughing to every few minutes.  It also helped the Pat suggested I sit up front so's to keep from making it worse. The quickest way to La Paz is by taking a ferry across another lake south of Lago Titicaca, with our bus on one ferry and us on another.

Driving on, our interim destination was Tiwanaku, a ruin built in about 300 BC, by a culture which was already over a thousand years old.  Lasting until a century before the Incas, the Tiwanakans stone-carving, monolith-building, irrigation systems, and pottery- making skills placed the on par with any in the world at the time.

 The centerpiece, a seven level temple, is only partially re-constructed, and work in continuing with the help of Venezula's President, Hugo Chavez.  Astronomically-precise, with calendars abounding, it's leaders pioneered techniques used a millennium later throughout South America.  One monolith, which we couldn't photograph, rivals any I've seen produced by the Mayans 500 years later.

The road to La Paz travels from there over rolling green hills reminding us of Sonoma County, except that it's 14,000 feet.  I really think hilltops at that elevation ought to be jagged and made of granite.  Not smooth and made of layered limestone, full of old shells.  But this whole area once was an eight times larger Lago Titicaca, until the gentle slope of the uplifted plate led all the water south to a huge salt flat.

Dropping down (1,000 feet) into a valley, we reach La Paz.  Near the entrance to the downtown stands a statue of Che Guevarra, made of recycled materials, standing on an American Eagle.  Not the capital of Bolivia (that's Sucre), but with 2.5 million people and all the major government buildings, it will certainly satisfy our needs to experience Urban Bolivia.   Tonight, we walked from our rooms at the five-star Radisson to a trendy restaurant for six versions of filet mignon, as we watched university students begin to organize for the week-long Carnival de la Candelaria.  We expect it to be a little crazy tomorrow.

To see all of the photos taken today, click on Friday, Feb 8th, La Paz, Bolivia.

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