A Travellerspoint blog


rain 58 °F

Well Wendy & myself are feeling much better, except that we are extremely short (huff) of (puff) breath (gasp) ALL THE TIME. COPD must suck. The transit from Corioco to Copacabana via La Paz went off without a hitch. We just returned from 3 days on lake titicaca, and one night on the Isla del Sol. Funny how the guide books never mention the 45 minute hike up, up, up to the top of the island to reach the village. And at 4000 meters it was bit of a slog. We only spent one night but saw some beautiful scenery & I had a fantastic meal of fried trout in the sweetest little, albeit primitive, place. We returned to Copa ready for some hammock time. We rested, read, played backgammon & prayed to the Virgin Guadalupe of Copacabana for safe travels. She is the most revered saint in all of Bolivia & people come from all over the country make the journey to ask her to bless........ their cars. Uh, huh, their CARS! The cars arrive in front of the cathedral every Sunday & get all festooned in a mixture gladiolas,miniature reed boats & other trinkets. Beer is sprayed on the tires after the priest blesses the vehicle. It is quite the spectacle.
For a foodie bolivia was quite disappointing; lots of fried, bland meat & potatoes. We are hopeful that Peruvian food will be better. We have just arrived in Puno, Peru today & just finished our business of securing a hotel & changing money. We are off for a bite of food & window shopping. Up at the crack of dawn tomorrow for the 10 hour bus ride to Cusco. More from cusco, with photos, I promise.

Posted by shurford 14:32 Archived in Peru Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

Gastroenteritis,pomelo neus & the worlds most dangerous road


We left La Paz (good riddance) for Coroico yesterday. I ate something in La Paz that contained some nasty beastie (parasite,bacteria or amoeba who knows?) and havent felt up to par since. Wendy says I went native too fast. I finally gave in & started on abx 24 hours into it. Pommelo neus has also helped considerably. (pink grapefruit soda)
Before leaving La Paz we hired a driver, Jorge (who played the same mix of late 70s disco & 80s new wave all day) to take us to Tiuanico. (sp?) an Inca ruin an hour or so out of La Paz. Really beautiful drive; looks a lot like Montana:wide reaching plains with striking mountains in the distance. The ruins would have been much more impressive had the Spanish not decimated the place. It was built in 600 BC & occupied over 260, 000 acres. It was a fully functioning society with with running water and a sophisticated agricultural center. In about 900 AD it was abandoned, most likely due to drought. Enter the plundering conquistadors. They tore down the temples & statues & even ground some of the stones into gravel to use a base for a railroad track. Barely a glimpse is left. Tragic.
Yesterday we boarded a mini bus for Coroico, which is in the tropical Yungas valley. I was slightly nauseated & the constant, pungent smell of fried fish & BO didnt help. About an hour into our trip we realized we were on the "old road" aka the worlds most dangerous road. Literally 6 inches from our tires was a straight fall to 1000 meters. I forgot about my nausea. Wendy said "Im glad I have my passport on me so they can identify my body" hmmm,... no way anyone is fetching us out of that ravine, I thought.
We arrived safe & found a lovely hotel, the Hotel Esmerelda. We have a bamboo balcony and hot water ALL DAY! The views are magnificent. We are above the cloud line which is a bit eerie. It has rained all day, so we opted out of the waterfall hike & went to town instead. We ate pizza with an Argentinian motorcycle gang & a young traveler from Kansas. Because of the rain we will cut this portion of the trip short & head to lake Titicaca tomorrow. So its back on another minibus to La Paz, supposedly on the new road, but who knows.... suzanne

PS still no photo upload capability. arrgh.

Posted by shurford 12:59 Comments (5)

Breathless in Bolivia

Living at 13,000 feet

semi-overcast 60 °F

I arrived in La Paz safe & sound. Had a few mishaps along the way, Stan you are my hero!
Wendy graciously arranged for Jorge to meet me at the airport (It was a real real treat not to have to secure transport) Traffic in la Paz is like most of the third world, which is to say, congested and slightly dangerous. Jorge drove masterfully while listening to 80´s new wave & Donna Summers greatest hits.
La Paz is built within a huge bowl, the poorer neighborhoods being at the rim & the more affluent folks reside at the bottom of the bowl where it´s warmer & easier to breathe.
Our little hotel is a nice respite. It has a balcony which sans pigeon droppings would be quite picturesque. We have hot water from 0700-0930. We are near the witches market which sells all sorts of talismans. Desicated llama fetuses are popular & are believed to bring good luck to a new home by burying it in the foundation. Thank goodness you needn´t display the poor little thing.
I´ve done a bit of exploring today; but every little bit of exertion brings on shortness of breath which takes a fair amount of resting to recover. The tingling in the feet is also a bit of an annoyance but otherwise I feel pretty good. No headache for which I am thankful.
The food is simple but very flavorful. I had a simple lunch of veg soup & coca tea. Looking forward to sampling all little pastries & whatnots from street vendors.
The alpaca wear is so beautiful. I wil be bringing home lots of lovely, soft garments.
Sorry, no photos to post, as this computer does not have an accessible USB port. -suzanne

Posted by shurford 13:41 Comments (0)

High in La Paz

sunny 56 °F

Landing in La Paz is surreal. Everywhere you look there are little red brick houses hugging the rolling hills. The airport is appropriately named El Alto. It is seriously high up at 4000m. A taxi drove me down a large, wide curvy road into the of the traveller barrio centered around Sagarnaga street. My hotel, on the fringes of the area, is more of a local Bolivain business travellers hotel than a International travellers hotel. Nice for a number of reasons; none of the nasty dreadlocked, dirty, rude Israli travellers would think to stay here, the people who work here speak very little English, which makes me work harder at my Spanish, the price is fair - not marked up for rich tourists, and it has everything I need for $10.00 a night.
My first day in town I wandered around and got my bearings. Practiced my numbers by asking what things cost to different store owners. Bought a large 2 liter of water that I MUST drink tonight to stave off this high altitude headache I feel coming on, and a small school kids pair of scissors that I use when I clip and trim stuff to put in my journal.
I had a delicious cold, fresh, salad of cabbage, radish and onions, papas fritas (french fries) and some chicken soup for lunch. I picked a spot where I happened to be the only foreign looking person eating and so I got a lot of attention from staff and fellow diners. I think I saw some appreciative stares that I was eating the same things they were all eating.
Back to my hotel room to read and rest up. I´m a bit breathless when walking around and can really feel my heart beating faster when Im at rest. But so far all that was expected due to the altitude. By the way the altimeter on my watch reads 13429ft in my hotel room.
The plan for the next few days is to find a way to either Sucre (fly), or Salar de Uyuni (train and bus). There´s a transportation protest going on so I´m not sure how I´m going to get to where I want to go to next...........

Posted by wthesenga 07:58 Archived in Bolivia Tagged lodging Comments (0)

Delays, more delays, headaches and displaced baggage.

snow 28 °F

It all started out so promising; a comfortable flight from Portland to Atlanta, a quiet seatmate, good snacks and two great movies I wanted to watch ('Precious' and 'Up In The Air'). And then came the announcement on my iPhone from my Trip Case app. - in big bold red letters: FLIGHT CANCELLED. I needed to make a connecting flight from Atlanta to Miami where I was to get on my 2300 flight to La Paz, Bolivia. It wasn't going to happen. A few snow flurries and cold weather had thrown Atlanta into a tail spin and literally 3/4 of the departing flights were cancelled. Not delayed, but cancelled. To make matters worse - I commited the cardinal sin of budget backpacker travellers - I seperated myself from my pack. I thought "why not check my pack, then I won't have to carry it around on my layovers". Bad idea. I can count on one hand how many times I have checked my favorite travel pack and everytime something seems to happen. True this time also. I was marrooned in Atlanta and my bag went on without me. Sometime after I had already checked into the Airport Ramada with my "sorry you're stranded overnight kit" supplied by Delta Airlines and paid for by a discounted voucher also given to me by Delta, my bag flew on an after midnight flight to Miami. I had already rebooked myself to leave for Miami and Bolivia on the 3rd, and as I tried to sleep I had visions of someone lifting my pack off the baggage claim turnstile after seeing it go past 30 or so times. But my friends and family consoled me and said they had confidence that my pack would be safe in Miami at the Delta Baggage Claim Office. But it was only after I arrived in Miami this morning and saw my pack safely stacked with all the other misplaced baggage that I felt ok. Yes, my pack, intact, is now with me again. Whew! The next obstacle was getting checked in for my international flight. The women at the ticket counter acted like she was in the Bolivian Mafia. I stated where I was going and she said "Do you have your passport? (of course), Do you have an additional passport photo? (yes), Do you have your proof of Yellow Fever Vaccination, (Thank you Suzanne, yes!), and Do you have your Bolivian Visa paperwork? (uhhhh, no, I thought I got it on arrival in La Paz.... ) No, you have to have it before you leave. (Uh oh). After waiting and waiting, I was given a copy of the Visa paperwork to fill out and issued my Boarding Pass. Quickly through security and onwards to the Admiral's Club where I have been enjoying sitting at the bar using my free drink vouchers and listening to the very busy bartender greet and serve all his customers, switching effortlessly between flawless English and Spanish. I hope my next blog entry finds me writing from La Paz. But the way this trip is evolving, don't be too surprised by more unexpected events!

Posted by wthesenga 14:36 Archived in USA Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

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