La Paz is the world’s highest administrative capital ranging in height from 10,500 feet to 13,500 feet. This is a clear reason for picking up altitude sickness medicine. I have been acclimating to high altitudes in Quito, Cuenca, and Cusco, but I figured why take any chances since I really don’t enjoy vomiting or any of the other symptoms of altitude sickness.
My first day was pretty much a throwaway since I was awake the whole evening the night before. I went to bed early and slept through to 7:00 am in order to fully recharge my batteries. I had booked a city tour the night before to take the guesswork out of La Paz. I also booked 3-day tours for both Lake Titicaca and Uyuni. It was nice to get everything sorted out for a week, and the last stop puts me in Chile. La Paz is a very dirty and disheveled city, and not someplace I really care to stay. The squalid state of affairs is really hard to swallow. I am just not into filth.
My room has decent wifi so I can at least hide in my room and blog away. In fact, I will spend my whole last day here doing just that.
This is the best way to see La Paz. From a distance. Seriously, this is one filthy dirty city. After a half-hour, you’ll want to head back to the hotel for a shower. Depending on the hotel you’ll want a shower after your shower.
Except for the football stadium, it is a city with very little green spaces.
Above the city, there is an interesting formation called Moon Valley.
Bolivian woman in traditional garb. If you’re wondering about the hats, I’m happy to sort you out on those. They were introduced to the region by the British. This is the type of bowler preferred by Stan Laurel of the famed Laurel & Hardy comedy team. Being a tall hat, I guess it also played well by augmenting the very short stature of these ladies. They have certainly created a style all their own using these unique hats. Surely the inventor of the bowler had no idea that his creation would take the female population of a large South American city by storm. This style was originated in La Paz. Given my hair situation, I have a heightened sense of awareness for hats. It was always enjoyable in Bolivia to encounter these bowlers.
Quite a dramatic spot for a private home.
The place had an amazing network of wooden stairs integrated into the formations creating hours of trails through this bizarre formation that was once a lake bottom.
Here you can see the detail of one of the formations and the layering that occurred as the result of one of the volcanic eruptions in the area. You can see the layer of rock and ash that were part of this event.
Just another pretty vista.
One of the few clean areas of the city due to the proximity to many government buildings.
The bust of a nice guy who was hanged in the square.
Notice something odd about that clock? Check out the order of the numbers. Clockwise is the opposite of a regular clock. The clock is meant to be a symbol of the Southern Hemisphere, by mirroring the motion of the shadow on a sundial which happens to go in the opposite direction in the South.
Another uncharacteristically tidy street with cafés, shops, and galleries flanking it.
At the end of the street was a gallery featuring the work of a prominent Bolivian artist named Mahani Mahiani.
I just love this sculpture.
There is a mural by the artist as well.
A row of shops featuring local artisans’ crafts.
Another one of my bowler hats ambles by.
Bolivianos are very superstitious, and one of their bizarre practices is to burn up a mummified alpaca fetus.
MORE ALPACA FETUSES WITH AND WITHOUT FUR
This fellow adorned with a truck and musical instruments is there bring these things into the adorners’ lives. There’s even play money and a mouth stuffed with cigarettes. He’s kind of a cornucopia of hope.
Here’s a real cornucopia.
My favorite bowler with traditional braid action.
Street art depicting bowler with a traditional braid.
Mural in my restaurant demonstrating hideous gluttony, but you have to love the naked, red-haired demoness shoveling food into the mouth of that helpless bloated wretch.
The reason this photo is blurred is that my ears were bleeding as I made my way for the door to escape the worst Beatles cover band in the whole wide world. I will tolerate a good deal to enjoy a good Beatles tune, but these poor lads were beyond the pale. Horrifying off-key vocals, clumsy chord changes, and a lead guitar that needed a few more years of practice rounded out this assault on the ears. I should have returned to the cafe after it shut for the night. I may have caught a glimpse of Lennon’s ghost rattling a chain in agony, and perhaps we could have comforted one another.
No garbage cans here in La Paz. They just dump it in the street and then shovel it into the back of a truck later on.
A lovely vista on my street. How about that veterinarian sign in the foreground. I can’t imagine bringing an injured rat to that stinking place.
More of my charming neighborhood.
If you want a break from the filth, go to a church square. They always clean up for Jesus.
Woven palm pieces for sale for luck.
Ladies, doesn’t this make you want to run right down and book an appointment? I wouldn’t take my dog here to get his ass bathed and trimmed.
I am so happy that I chose a three day trip to Lake Titicaca otherwise I would have missed the chance to really absorb the charm and tranquility of the region. Also, it helps to wash the bad taste of La Paz out of my mouth.
At 12,500 feet above sea level, Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest commercially navigable lake.
It is also said to be the birthplace of the Incas. I arrived in the town of Copacabana and hopped on a boat bound for the Isla del Sol. After docking, my guide Vic and I made the climb to the summit of the island where my hotel was perched. The views of the lake from this location are breathtaking, and it is also lovely for a nice stroll or to explore some of the Incan ruins. There are a number of hotels and restaurants to choose from, some even offering wifi.
Welcome to Lake Titicaca – An amusing name if there ever was one.
Since when did the Incas look like Schartzenegger. “Get to da Choppa!”
The peninsula we needed to cross.
We even got to bring the bus along with us.
Then we picked up our boat to the Isla del Sol.
At the Isla del Sol we were greeted by a hillside of Incan terraces, and once ashore we proceeded to explore some nearby ruins. It is said that the Incan civilization was born on this island in the middle of Lake Titicaca.
INCAN MORTAR STYLE CONSTRUCTION
There is a contour-backed throne at the top of the steps.
ANOTHER SWARTZENEGGERESQUE INCA
Ancient Incan waterway that still works.
Now for the scenic climb to the top of the island.
MORE TIMELESS TERRACES
PRETTY LITTLE CHURCH ALONG THE WAY
Just a little further
WIFI NEXT DOOR
Can’t get enough of that vista.
I paid for this shot.
The dog made no demands for money.
This fascinated me. A gourmet chef on an isolated island. How random. See misspelling of chef. I didn’t notice it then, but it would have just added to the mystique. I decided to embark on the irresistible 150-meter journey through the eucalyptus forest.
Magically, the sun began to set…..
…..and I happened upon an enchanted cottage.
Inside was Pablo the Wizard Chef and his assistant creating potions for the gastronomic enlightenment of all who crossed the threshold. I had the most tender and delicious filet mignon that I had consumed in all of my travels throughout Central/South America.
Me and Pablo. See if you can figure out what’s going on behind that candle on the right. I think it’s a girl in a short dress bending over to pick something up.
I forgot to mention. With this tour, I got a personal guide. His English was marginal, and he mumbled and put very little passion into his material, but he was handy for keeping things organized and on schedule. Here we are embarking on an eight-mile death march across the island.
Of course, the scenery was great.
Sometimes there were smooth paths.
Other times you got this.
But you always had vistas like these to enjoy.
In retrospect, I really should have rested here.
INCAN RUINS IN THE DISTANCE
Sacrificial altar with twelve surrounding stone seats.
OFF WE GO AGAIN
SIGNS OF CIVILIZATION
The town at the other end of the island is in sight.
After a delicious empanada, we jumped on our ride to Copacabana on the shores of Titicaca.
Shortly after our arrival a parade was organized to celebrate my successful traversal of the Isla del Sol. Actually, this was a pre-organized event and a lucky break.
Preparing the next generation to die for their country. Cute but in an unfortunate way.
MAJOR BOWLER POW WOW
CIVIC PRIDE IN ACTION
LEAVING THE FESTIVITIES
Come on Jesus, give the tired old broad a push.
Getting our bus back to the mainland from Copacabana.
Back to La Paz to get the bus to Uyuni.
Salar De Uyuni
UYUNI – This is the polished town center of Uyuni, putting a good face on the place.
This is much more demonstrative of the vibe of the city. Pretty rough around the edges for the most part.
UYUNI DESERT TRAIN GRAVEYARD
Aussies getting off on a wagon wheel.
Nonsensical selfie which will result in a photo devoid of the train.
All aboard the glamour express with a narcissistick on top.
HERD OF VICUNA AT A LOCAL WATERING HOLE
Salt mound outside a small salt processing operation.
This machine grinds the salt to its final consistency, and then iodide is added.
Then it’s bagged, and here you see the final product.
Here’s where the whole process begins. Salt is shoveled into piles where it is dried in the sun. It becomes much lighter and easily transportable.
After it’s dried it’s shoveled onto the back of trucks and brought to be processed.
Bicycles waiting for our pedal across the salt flats.
I’m the one with the reflection coming off of the top of his head.
Our destination where we reconnected with our SUV.
My great new hat has an attached shade shield which can be deployed as well as a front sand shield that can be utilized as well.
People here are busying themselves with taking perspective based, trick photos utilizing a plastic Godzilla. Meanwhile, I am busy working on getting the shot you see below. I think I got the better part of the deal frankly.
ONE OF OUR DRIVERS
ISLAND OF CACTUS
This is an old piece of coral from when this area was an ocean.