Santa Cruz de la Sierra

We are in Brazil now but here are three shots from Santa Cruz, Bolivia to tidy up our last stop.  We were happy to relax in Santa Cruz with warmer weather.  The city square is nice with lots of locals sitting around chatting, playing chess, eating salteñas. It is a commercial / industrial city which does not boast many unique tourist venues, but holds the title of fastest growing city in the world.  For us, it was a time to relax and catch up on reading and planning.

The Cultural Center just off the main square exhibited three artists using distinctly different medias.  I liked this one by the Bolivian artist, Magenta Murillo. It is nice that they used a violet (not quite magenta) background for her paintings.

2019-05-29 18.32

A bit north east of the main square there is the Museo Historico Militar Heroes Del Chaco (A military museum about the Heroes of the Chaco).  This documents the Bolivian view of the Chaco War of 1932-1935. We listened to a Corporal giving a tour to a high school class. In 1973, I spent two weeks with my friend Alexander and his family in Mariscal  Estigarribia, Paraguay. Ever since seeing the actual territory (a green hell of desert cactus and bramble) I have been interested this history. The honest assessments by this Corporal added a lot to my understanding.  His dramatic descriptions of the soldier’s experience provided entertaining and realistic perspectives. The sad part is that like all wars, mankind has not learned any lessons.

2019-05-30 17.08

Finally, the Cruceños consider their city the center of South America.  We found the park but it is under construction . Here is the photo taken over the barriers showing the distances to the other South American capitals.

2019-05-30 16.23

 

Downhill to Cochabamba Bolivia

Putting our bus days on hold, we flew from La Paz to Cochabamba.  We were there for May 27 when Bolivia celebrates Mother’s Day.  This honors the heroines of Cochabamba who died on this date in 1812 in a battle of colonial liberation. We climbed the hill south of the city which has a monument to these brave women, who fought the Spanish alone. The banner photo was taken from the hill looking north.

Here are two individual commemorations

Manuela Gandarillas – A nearly blind grandmother who raised the call to arms.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manuela_Gandarillas

Juana Azurduy de Padilla. A commander of the Bolivian Liberation. For her service, Simon Bolivar is quoted as saying the country of Bolivia should really be named Azurduyia.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juana_Azurduy_de_Padilla

Pasaje San Rafael with mosaics paying homage to a wide range Latin American women.

View along the main square with its neatly maintained facades.

We enjoyed visiting the market and the plazas, along with general exploring of local streets. The leisurely pace, the warmer weather, and moderate environment contrast with our experiences in La Paz.

One, two, three: La Paz, Bolivia

Traveling a week in high altitude exhausted me.  At the end of our bus trip, we spent five days in La Paz, Bolivia.  Apartments have little heat so the inside temperature never surpassed the outside highs of 16 deg centigrade (60-61 deg F).  Even so, we enjoyed our time finding some unique attractions.  Here are three:

Cable Car network took us all around the city.

2019-05-18 12.38
Bird’s Eye view of El Alto Market

Clean streets

2019-05-18 13.12
Public Toilets are easily spotted.  Although this one might not be wheelchair friendly

Zebras in the Zebra crossings

A few things to note:

  • La Paz and the suburb El Alto have altitudes of around 4000 meters (12000 feet).  La Paz airport has the highest commercial runway in the world.
  • Even after a week of acclimatization, I was still huffing and puffing as we walked up and down the streets and stairs.
  • In the autumn and winter (April – September), La Paz is dry with low humidity.  We saw few clouds and felt the strong rays of the sun. I should have used more sunblock.
  • No matter how you arrive or encounter La Paz, it will be an amazing experience.
  • It seems everywhere we turned, there was an interesting view.  Here is one looking down a street in our neighborhood.

2019-05-20 15.54

 

Hopping between Peru and Bolivia

With retirement, our travel is pretty casual.  Mostly, we spend a month in one place, then a few short trips or maybe a week in each place along our itinerary.  We learned about the long distance hop on / hop off experience in South Africa.  The reviews for PeruHop were positive and provided useful details.  The suggested itineraries allow for a thorough Peruvian experience in seven or eight days.  We ended up spending 14 days by stopping at every city for two or three days.  What an incredible two weeks.

Our trip consisted of eight different buses from Lima, Peru to La Paz, Bolivia.  For me it was the trip of a life time. Forty years ago, I was in Santos, Brazil planning a trip by train from Sao Paulo to Bolivia.  This had to be cancelled when my stomach aches required an immediate operation for appendicitis (sometime, I need to blog about our adventures getting sick on the road).   I was never able to schedule a journey to Bolivia until this trip.

There is so much variety and so much to see in Peru and later Bolivia that we ended up with a million photos.  All of them are fascinating.  I post one or two from each place attempting to show a variety of experience, not necessarily the most perfect photos.  A couple of notes: Links are provided to the Wikipedia explanations.  Second: I will use the word “Quechua” as opposed to “Inca” to refer to the Andean empire and culture of the 1400s to 1600s.

Tambo Colorado

Ruins of a 15th century city using Quechua and Chicha building techniques.

 

Paracas

The city is famous for its bay and beaches.  PeruHop includes a tour of the National Reserve highlighting the desert dunes and the natural cliffs along the coast. The natural reserve of the Ballestas Islands features sea lions, penguins and other natural diversity similar to the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador.

 

Huacachina

A historically, natural oasis famous for its sand dunes.  We hiked up to get a perspective of the city and watch the sunset.

 

Ica

Wine country in the middle of the desert.  The grape juice is distilled to make Pisco brandy.  There is a small natural history museum which has a few amazing artifacts from the early cultures discovered here.  There were quite a few visitors as it was free Sunday for Peruvians.  Nice to see the excitement of the children.  Sorry, no photographs allowed.

 

Nazca

Historically spelled Nazca, now officially Nasca is famous for the lines etched into the desert depicting animals and astrological markings. In 1996, the city was devastated by a 7.5 earthquake. Wife experienced her first earth tremor when a 5.5-6.0 earthquake occurred about 80 km away.

 

There are many interpretations of the Nasca Lines.  My theory is the that the straight ones were created to identify seasons when rain is likely.  The pictures are pranks made by teenagers tired of redrawing the straight lines in the desert one more time.

Arequipa

Our bus left Nazca at 7 PM arriving at 5 AM the next morning.  This was the only overnight we took. It was comfortable enough but it might have been interesting to see the curving roads from the coast.  This begins the real mountainous region with Arequipa at 2335 meters (7661 feet) above sea level.  Still desert climate, this marked the farthest south we went. There is a strong influence of Spain in the architecture. During the colonial period, Arequipa was one of the most loyal cities to Spain. Extinct (for now) volcanoes dominate the Northern skyline.

 

Puno

We left Arequipa at 6 AM heading toward Puno on the banks of Lake Titicaca. The air was thinner as we crossed the divide near Lagunillas at 4400 meters (14400 feet) and it began to getting colder. The Puno side of Lake Titicaca is famous for its floating islands made of stacked reeds in a crisscross method. The sensation is like walking across a marsh.

 

 

Copacabana

On the eastern shore of lake Titicaca, the village of Copacabana is dominated by the Basilica of our Lady of Copacabana.  The name may come from Quechu, “Kotakawana” the God of fertility who ruled in Lake Titicaca. The basilica is located on the site of the original temple. We arrived by BoliviaHop after getting our visas at the border.  For US citizens it’s complicated with copies of passport, itinerary, hotel reservations along with U$S 160. Since Wife and I have different last names, they weren’t sure about the hotel reservations that only mentioned a double room with only my name.

La Paz

We arrived to this amazing city at 10:30 at night.  Our adventure here will be covered in the next post.

2019-05-17 10.39
Our first day out