Bye Bye La Paz

A good night rest was very welcomed after such an adventurous day yesterday, who are we kidding it was heroic! Well, you have to start a legend someday so why not today? Because our bus doesn’t leave before the evening, we had a few hours to kill, so why not explore another side of La Paz? Without any question we hopped on the first municipal bus line and discovered where all the rich Bolivians lived. Clean empty streets, homes barricaded and police waking around with the dramatic view over the canyon! Nowhere did we find a city center or a commercial center in this south part of the city, we only counted two supermarkets and mostly private schools; in other words the populations still come to the old town for their everyday needs.


The plaques seem to stop around 1999, god may not grant wishes anymore…



A bit of a Parisian flare in this roof and door.




No false advertisement on that hostal part.


Knowing the present coast line of Bolivia, you wonder why they need an Armada.


You have a kiosk like this every five meters selling a bit of everything snack wise,

which reminds us of Greece a while back. 190ml of coca cola product $0.15


Beautiful Spanish architecture, and just because…

We were missing the pottery we did a few more museums!


A close ressemblance with the Inuit sculpture



The museum of Gold



We survived the death road.

Yes we went for our bike tour and survived it intact. Thank you to a well-oiled machine and a very careful guide we had a very enjoyable ride. Just enough speed to have a shivers here and there but never to lose control of the machine. Join us on this wild ride! We would happily recommend Extreme downhill that are managing their company very professionally, honestly and are friendly from the moment you enter their shop until the end.

La paz uitet

Finally we found La Paz quiet at 6.30 am.


Thanks extreme downhill.


A chilly morning to start at 4700M.


22 km at the speed of light didn’t see it pass under the bike.

snowny road

You are not alone truck and car zoom by.

second part

survivor

When you choose a company get one that provide good equipment, we saw Kway type protection for some and splurge on the mid level bike worth it. Double suspension and hydraulic break.

second road

Second part you see the road in the Jungle, very differente temperature.


Benjamin is rocking this new look!


Safe but you better not miss a turn.




We are back in hot temperature, amazing.



You never realize how close you are from the edge, having to ride on the left for the upcoming car, as you are fully concentrated on our action.


Still have to take care of my little boy.


A happy group! Just rode 55 km, fortunately mostly downhill.

Sunday in La Paz

Sunday is the day the pickpockets are out in force all over obviously. And here is what we observed, first we took some money out from the ATM, my two side kick were watching while I was doing so, but none spotted the young man with a backpack observing and then following us. Half a block was enough to pick him up from the corner of my eye, on the other side of the street, we stopped he did, we looked he tried not to, and finally cracked and spotted us all looking at him. We turned around and went to the funicular terminal another way in order to get to El Alto Market, now that’s one place who’s got a really bad reputation and lived to it, Benjamin got spat on the face and pickpocketed but the thief only got a bottle of Purell. 5 minutes later we spotted a man following us, not in par with the rest of the crowd, we turned stared and he turned around to go his way. Again he was wearing a backpack and baseball cap to avoid eye contact, this seems to be the uniform, it should make it easier to spot them in the crowd, the rest of Bolivia doesn’t wear any of those.

Anyway, the day started much better with loud and band music, we were not ready but we rushed down to see what it was all about. It was a display in parade of the next generation (from private schools) who is going to change things in the country; the children were all in procession with creatively made outfits to educate the country to recycling.

On another hand, if you plan a stay in La Paz know that on Sunday everything is pretty much closed, also you will need 3 days max to do everything, we took two extra days. One to rest, and one for tomorrow: we are going biking a local road, if the boys survive we will have a story to tell.

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Of course you have to have firework over the kids.

Ecological?

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All the costumes were made of recycled material, very creative and colorful.

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Every grade had its own band, just imagine the cost.

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As any new mode of transportation brought to a town,

Everybody wants to use it, for once there was a beautiful line… Even here I had to insist to get the correct change, as this happened once already.

Vigilance is the word of the day!

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Sunday Elegance

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The cemetery a city in itself in the heart of the city.


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We had not realized how much we missed snow covered tops until we saw those.

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Stuffed mashed patatoes were our lunch followed with a freshly squeezed orange juice.

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The market goes on for 5 kilometers and you will find everything you need. On our way out, Benjamin spotted a Bolivian woman beating up a thief, we really didn’t extend the welcome anylonger.



That driver made a wrong turn, which is now famous as the funicular goes over it.


Why not in a descent in a busy street, give me a minute while I repair my bus?


The national treat, jello with whipped cream.


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Where is the error?

The government palace

Tiwanaku Pre-Inca ruins

Today was not looking so promising, the sky was grey and the rain was strong. After checking the weather forecast and no change for tomorrow, the decision was made to still make a run for Tiwanaku’s ruins. This village toward Peru and Lake Titicaca is believed to be the mother of other civilizations in South America whom they stem from. The advance of this empire was amazing and it collapsed 200 years prior of the Inca appearance 500 km North of it. Well for the rest of the lesson, Google is your friend! As for us we are taking you on a local bus ride today, in to the sunshine.


To get to Tiwanaku, make a bee line to the cemetery. Funny enough the small bus terminal is situated all around it; it must be Bolivian humor…

For the one that didn’t get the reference, just happen today.

It is an 80 kilometers ride for 15 bolivians or $2.25, we couldn’t not even get in downtown Vancouver for that price.


This is the scene from 5 minutes out of the city center, traffic jam everywhere and honking!

Everyone minding their own business.

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The detail and precision of the sculptures of the monoliths are just amazing when you think that they are 3000-4000 years old.



The king Sol


Heads popping out of the wall, Indiana Jones was not so creative…


As the price of a guide was rather expensive, we connected with a Bolivian family and shared the cost. We then enjoyed a great lunch of sharing cultural history and society knowledge, we all made our way to Puma Punku in our usual style the back of a pickup truck. Thank you for all the ride and your hospitality.


All made by hand in an era with no metallic tools excepted bronze, the precision is amazing.

And it is still a mystery as to what material they used to carve the stones while making them so precise.



It had snowed in the morning on the higher ground, giving an even more dramatic background.

Needless to say we had an amazing ride back.


Our ride back didn’t drop us all the way back in the center of the city, but in the Alto Neighborhood.

This is these days not a problem we just hopped in the brand new funicular back to city center, allowing us to see a panoramic view over the whole city.




Our usual quiet street view in the evening, a constant buzz of hustle and bustle.

Also La Paz is still divided in sector of professional expertize: One street for hair dressers, one for opticians, and one for dry goods only see below.

The supermarkets haven’t made it here yet.



And last but not least, you have guessed it this one is for Emma!

We immediately thought of you tonight on our way to dinner, for your next party a Gallon of “Sky” vodka made in Bolivia in a plastic jug, how convenient and “legit” no?

A day walking around La Paz

La Paz is a strange city, with some jewels of architecture in the middle of a sea of unruly urbanization. If you arrive here directly from one of the G7 country, the poverty next to “wealth”, with every square meter used for something, the amount of traffic fighting for space, the level of noise every car or bus for that matter honks here, it can be intimidating and overwhelming if not even scary.

Now it was walk around day for us so please join us:


The witch market, Las brujas

Offering for every occasion and your very own dried up Lama you will be a hit at the next house warming party.



The Franciscans had a knack for making beautiful churches, we will give them that.

They were not afraid of showing off opulence.




The old and new is everywhere, every square inch is used all the way up in the mountain.


Grafittis on the wall


Lunch time in a local market 35 bolivar for 2 courses and drink for 3 people, later on in the afternoon Valerie had a coffee and a brownie for that much. Two worlds ready to collide.


Emma we know you would have loved this place.

But know that Ben is still ready to run to scare them away for you…


We love just walking around cities and discover beautiful market surprises, this one was very colourful,

If only Letitgo was close by, we could provision.



This two photo represent what an everyday street life is all about, you now know why we say chaos.



Valerie haggling some fabric, the Bolivian have understood that their currency is weak, you have to talk them down on everything even the glass of orange juice. They will not bat a eye and charge you double the regular price.


Benjamin and a friend in Chivay a few days ago.


We put online the video from Arequipa, watch it in full screen.

On the road again from Puno to La Paz

After reading the horror story of so many travelers going to La Paz, ranging from border chaos to disappearing bus, so in truth we didn’t know what to expect. The bus had been booked yesterday after our trip to the island and thankfully it was a direct one Puno to La Paz; when you go to the bus terminal in Puno you are faced with a myriad of choice in bus services or route. After asking around and looking at the bus in the yard, I opted for the direct route via Desaguadero with Tour Peru who was the lucky winner for 50 soles 4.5 hours. The other option is via Copacabana, it would be 36 soles and would take 7.5 hours and bus change or you could go via a local bus in stage for maybe 25 soles, time? Unknown, we will let you decide if it was worth it.

For us 7.00 am was the departure time at the bus terminal; it came quickly and the cold of Puno was invigorating to say the least! As a routine now, we will take again on a relaxing ride as we are writing this from La Paz and are still alive.


country side

no worry

Not to worry something will happen.

peruvian profile

No, no the driver is not sleeping, this is the stand by nice Peruvian profile.


Now just picture this: You are dropped here and told to get off the bus as the customs is ahead. This could be intimidating.

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This the second time in our life we walk to get across a border.


Our bus dropped us in front of the Peruvian Immigration and told us to cross the bridge and clear on the other side.

You remember the photo above of the rather dense traffic, now we will let you imagine how we got thrown into the jungle… Let’s just say finesse was not the word that came to mind.

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Well we were not the only one wanting to cross apparently.


Trucks are unloaded on one side and reloaded on a new one in the other country. Trans border shipping at its best.

We saw trucks filled to the brim with bricks, grapes and potatoes.


Welcome to Bolivia.


This lady was trying to bribe the officer to let her pass by, needless to say it didn’t work out too well…



If you choose the cheaper option this is your choice after the border. Not sure we want our back packs up there.


Sorry you have those too.



We have seen a few of those problems, now you have to decide which service to use.


First impression of La Paz: An organized chaos, a bric a brac from the bus terminal to the street.




Tradition: a thought for you Emma

Some projects can be accomplish in Alpaca, just pick your color!

And for sure you will have one of those appetizing slice?

Lake Titicaca and the islands

To say that Peru keeps amazing us is a small statement! Indeed our eyes are filled with incredible sceneries our brains with messages on simple life, our ears with silent night on the island. With that said after two days on the Lake Titicaca we have to make space in our memory bank…

Below are our thoughts on this last visit: A night and two days on Lake Titicaca

If you come to Puno to visit the islands, make sure to visit more than Uros. Truly this floating island made of `reef growing in the lake` might be disappointing, only one family lives on each of them and you visit one of the 87. It seems as if it is kept purely for the tourists `eye; a few things are explained and then you are thrown to the wolves at the market for a few crafts. You are then ferried to the restaurant island on a typical boat and that`s all for the visit! Nothing authentic it’s well-organized at la Disney Land, singing included. Although admittedly it is a must see, the way they live and the way the community is organized is truly interesting, you have to see it once in a life time.

After this visit we went to Amantani island, you will see below the views are super and you get to stay in a host family, rustic but fun and most definitely humbling bringing you 80-100 years back . If your host is of a younger generation you will be able to speak Spanish, if older they mostly speak Quechua and we wish you good luck, it’s like Mandarin to our ears!

On the last day we went to Taquile, an island of souvenir shops, where you can find all the hats you want and fun facts followed by a tasty lunch of `trocha` (trout from the lake). We had booked a tour package at a reasonable price 110 soles, you can do the home stay direct at the dock for 80 soles via the Uros, but availability may be restricted and staying another day in Puno no thanks, this city is not the most interesting. Now that you know everything, let’s go for a walk at 4100 meter high, take it easy don’t move the mouse too quickly it hurts when you are that high! Take a deep breath…


Uros


Don’t worry they don`t row, they had their dinghy with 2 stroke for the back road… out of the tourists`eye!

Yamaha mercury and Tohatsu for the cruiser


In the principle of keep it simple we ordered a new catamaran, after being seduced by the simplicity during our stay.



Marta.

By principle a Quechua is not lazy, we have seen it in action even spinning the wool on her way to drop us.


Now you see what we mean, that Lake Titicaca experience.




They use propane for the ease but the wood fire is still going in the back!

Delicious meal of quinoa soup




And as usual a little wink to our Emma

Yes, we travel with Hipsters!

Thank you all for making our second guided tour memorable, although we feel it might be the last for a while, our free spirits really can`t take it… Being told where to eat and when to pee is too much for us.

Colca Canyon to Puno

Visiting the Colca canyon can only be done easily through an agency, so here is the scoop. They all use pretty much the same kind of vans/minibus (sub-contracted) and stop at the same places (except if you take a very expensive private tour), a “tour guide” is provided at the same time but don’t expect too much… The only option left for you is to pick where you are sleeping. We encourage you to stay in Chivay, a small charming village at the bottom of the valley and also that way you can escape at your will. We used the company “aItravel“, for 100 soles we stayed in a very nice hotel Posada Del Colca with hot shower and all transport. we then took the transfer with “Sillustani tour” for 90 soles, which we bought from the same agency, in the end it is cheaper than direct we check for you.

Now that you are an expert, let’s take you for a fabulous tour. From the Inca terrace vista, to the condor in the canyon followed in the afternoon by the alto plano, we have memories for a lifetime our eyes are filled with majestic images.


On our way up the mountain in the morning we went throught two villages,

It was painfull for us to see the fake local dances and attires even if we understand it is a way of making a living for them…


On our arrrival, we saw three condor, a few minutes later nine were circling, we got lucky.







A typical example of a local hat from one of the ethnic group,

All embroidered and colorful




It’s always hard to give justice to such a magnificent scenery, but please take our word, it’s worth coming just for this.

It is like opening your geography book only now it is real!




Lunch at the market, gratin dauphinois flavoured with fennel seeds and stuffed peper or roasted chicken.


On our way to Puno, we spent 6 hours of Alto Plano at 4.200 meters high; simply breath taking



And finally politicians we can trust.

Arequipa to Chivay

Today was time to leave Arequipa en route to Chivay. Just to keep the South American legend of bad bus, we had to have a small problem. Just a small one though, we heard a little pop on the first hill, it turns out the turbo pipe blew off. But in 20 minutes we were on a brand new one who drove from Arequipa to pick us up, not even an adventure how disappointing. It is the first time we ever travel in a “group”, as we had booked this bus tour to go to the canyon and all we will say is that it is challenging our independence and free spirit! Hence we escaped the lunch group to find a small local restaurant, rather than eating at the “recommended buffet” one.





Wild Vicugnas not only Lamas or Alpacas


A little mixed hot drink made with the following ingredient.


Toua Blanca Muna Chachacoma Hoja de cola



The Alpaca was impressed to see himself in the tablet.

 


As it is Sunday the surrounding villagers came for the market.


 



The church was a surprise, mural and altar included.



Arequipa 474th anniversary

You know the drill, we show up in town, we see the stage get set-up during the day, then we inquire and join later for the show! It happened again in this beautiful city, the folkloric ballet National of Peru came and gave a performance for the 474th Anniversary of the city. The costumes with their vibrant colors, the orchestra and choreography were of an amazing quality; this troupe represents Peru on the international stage. Thank you for joining us tonight and enlightening us on the various styles of folklore in this diverse country.







A video will show up soon of course, with recording of flutes as per Benjamin’s request!