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sunny 28 °C



Today, with our companions on their way back home, we decided to plan an excursion to get out of the city. We hired our guide Juan from the past few days to take us to the town of Coroico, which is 3000 meters lower than where we are now and in the jungle. It is also much warmer.

Not long into our trip, I got a text from Lorna saying when they got to the airport, the airline insisted that all Sharon’s flights were cancelled. She ended up buying a ticket to Lima to try and straighten things out with Air Canada there because Avianca wasn’t helping. Then a few minutes later, another text, Lorna had lost her passports. No doubt from the stress of leaving her mom behind in Lima. She could not board her next flight. She did find the passports left on the previous flight, but not until after missing her flight. At present, they all have reunited in Lima and have new itineraries home tomorrow.

Nevertheless, it caused me some panic and so I texted Sherry back home to get online and on phone to make sure we had flights. She is the best agent, she even checked us in. So fingers crossed, things will be straight forward for us.

Our adventure wasn’t terribly exciting although the views through the Andes were lovely. We stopped at what they call the summit at 4700 meters above sea level. The road was crazy. They wanted to take the old road known as death road but I insisted on the new road. That freaked me out enough as it is. As we were driving out of town, Juan is telling me about all the accidents even on the new road. Now only bikers used the true death road.


The summit


While at the summit we could see fire pits everywhere from sacrifices. There were two female shaman there to assist with sacrifices and even our driver gave a sacrifice of alcohol and coca leaves to Pachamama ( the god or mother of the earth).


When we got to Coroico, we had a quick look around but there wasn’t much there. We did have a really nice lunch at a cute little restaurant.

We visited a waterfall. The roads were brutal and it was so dusty.


I had hoped to visit a Coca plantation but we did not and the Coca museum was closed. I am fascinated by this leaf that is used by tourists in tea to manage altitude sickness and is chewed constantly by locals. It is the same leaf that is used to manufacture cocaine. I am not sure why I was surprised that the tea is stimulant and was keeping me up or that the poor use it to have energy and not feel hungry, which makes it appealing. We can’t bring it home and the only way to get it there is to start a cocaine habit which doesn’t seem like the best idea. We did see it growing everywhere though. Apparently the chronic chewers are addicted to the leaf.


The best part of my day was when we saw the potato farmers drying and dehydrating their potatoes and I asked to pull over. It was so cool. We got out and talked to them. This one couple showed me how they spread potatoes for 3 days so lots of frost gets in them, then they stomp them with their bare feet over a few days to get all the water out. This dehydrates them so they can store them.


Another kind was soaked in sacks in the river for three weeks.


This lady , my new friend, wanted to know if she would be on Facebook Canada.


It was a nice day. Relaxing. But we are tired and we don’t go to the airport until 12:30 am and fly at 3:30 am. I guess that is a first world problem.

The chicken that joined us for lunch


Posted by curlygirl 18:22 Archived in Bolivia Tagged la bolivia coca paz coroico Comments (2)



sunny 22 °C

After a very busy couple of weeks exploring Peru and Bolivia we finally had a day with nothing on our schedule. This is actually the last day for our travel companions as they leave very early in the morning. We fly after midnight tomorrow night.

Since we were all exhausted we opted to take the morning to relax at our hotel which was great. At lunch time, we headed out on a little itinerary planned by Lorna. We started by heading to a restaurant for lunch, only to get caught up in a local protest. It was harmless minus the constant firecrackers. The protest appeared to be by medical professionals and along the sidelines were local protesting against them. It was without incident.


After lunch we returned to San Francisco Cathedral hoping to get inside. It was still locked so we decided to visit the church museum. This turned out to be awesome as we ended up guided through alleys that took us to the balcony overlooking the inside of the church and to the bell tower and even up to the rooftop. The tiles on the roof were actually molded by the thighs of the workers. It was gorgeous and a complete surprise. It is definitely underated in the guide books.


Next was a stroll through the market and some last minute shopping. And of course some Chola or Cholita stalking ( one week it is the geisha, next the cholitas). Lorna sent me a great article about the history of this dress code and their role in society. You can actual watch them wrestle on Sunday nights. I checked it out on YouTube and I don’t think we missed much.

If you want to read about the Cholitas, click here


Can you see the wad of coca leaves in her cheek?


We came back to the hotel to relax for a few minutes and then the adults went to a nearby museum that featured a textile exhibit, mask exhibit, traditional hats, history of the people of Bolivia, artifacts from the region and much more. Very well done.


We came back and fetched the kids and grabbed a bite at the museum restaurant. I have barely had time to write anything about some of our impressions but I can tell you that we have been less than impressed with the food. Both Peru and Bolivia have over 22 types of quinoa and while I love it, I don’t care to see it for a very long time. The other local favorite is potato and it can appear in any of the over 100 varieties, not all good.

Then it was back to the hotel to say our goodbyes.

Six years ago, I traveled alone with my son for the first time. I was nervous. I booked my first ever tour, a family adventure through Costa Rica. I wasn’t sure I would like a tour. I wasn’t sure how Isaac would manage with other families, being without his dad. But fate took over. Our tour was unique, off the beaten path and showed us things we would have never discovered on our own. It was fun, it was relaxing. More importantly it was shared with just one other family. A single mom, Lorna with her two kids ( Kajal and Jackson), both slightly younger than Isaac and her mom, Sharon. Two incredibly strong smart ladies who shared so many interests with me. After two weeks, we were the best of friends and were already planning a second trip together in 2 years. That trip was just as successful. Vietnam and Cambodia remains one of my favorites and believe it or not, we were once again the only 6 booked on that tour. Two years after that we traveled to Kenya and Tanzania and decided there that we should tackle a 4th continent together. Well that trip is now complete and I have just said good bye to this special family. There are no future trips planned. Isaac is off to college in the fall and so life is about to change. I can only say that I am so grateful that this family was in the right place at the right time and I will never forget the special memories we have created together.


Posted by curlygirl 18:28 Archived in Bolivia Tagged san francisco la paz chola chilota Comments (1)



sunny 22 °C

This has been a crazy, hectic and surreal day as we crossed from Peru in Bolivia.

Our day began at 7 am and we made our way to the bus terminal for the long journey to La Paz, Bolivia, the highest administrative capital in the world, resting on the Andes’ Altiplano plateau at more than 3,500m above sea level.

Our bus was lovely and we had front row seats on the second level so enjoyed a really nice view. It was well organized and about 2 hours in we stopped just prior to the Bolivian border to change money. This is what $200 usd got me, 1350 Bolivianos. Then we moved on to Peruvian immigration which was quick and easy. We then walked 5 minutes across the border into Bolivia and visited immigration there, which was equally as quick.


Immediately upon crossing into Bolivia we knew were in a very different place. Bolivia is the poorest of all the South American countries and it shows. But the landscape and houses looked different too.

After another 20 minutes, our bus dropped us at Copacabana, Bolivia, where we had 15 minutes to eat, pee and transfer to our Bolivian bus to La Paz which was vastly different. It was run down with no bathrooms and very little leg room ( although the back of the bus said we were VIP). 45 minutes in we had another stop where we were told to get off the bus, pay 2 Bolivianos and take a boat across a little river while the bus went across the water on a barge. We barely had time to pee when they were yelling at me “meesus, get on da bus, now!”. We were no longer being pampered as we had been in Peru, we were cattle being moved along. We then had a 3 hour drive to La Paz that turned into 4.5 hours.


Approaching La Paz there was major construction and later tons of traffic due to a festival. Today is a holiday, Independence day for Bolivia. We were stuck in traffic forever and I really wondered what kinda dump we were coming to. Ironically every now and then you would see a couple that looked so done up they reminded me of a fancy scene from a movie in the old days. One thing I noticed immediately is all the woman in the Bowler hats. Introduced in the 1800s by the British, they were somehow adopted by the woman and not the men.




Finally, we caught the most spectacular view of the mountains and La Paz sitting deep in the valley. I hope we get a chance to see that view. It any case, it gave me hope.

We were met by our transportation agent who brought us to our hotel and we were blown away. It is simply gorgeous. It is a colonial house dating from 1832, with a Colonial style architecture, located in the historic center of the city of La Paz. It is restored retaining 80% of the original construction. It is like stepping back in time with antiques everywhere. Many important figures in Bolivian history lived in this house. Our room is gorgeous but Lorna and Sharon have a loft, one with a bed and stain glass windows. Isaac says it is our best hotel ever.


We finally get a sleep in tomorrow, staring a city tour at 9:30 (we have changed time zones so are now only 1.5 hours earlier than Newfoundland). Tomorrow night at 9pm, we take an overnight bus for 12 hours to Uyuni. We have been assured that will be a better bus. I definitely won’t be posting tomorrow but will when I can.

I did not take out my camera today but I grabbed a few shots with my point and shoot and through the bus window.

Otherwise all is well and we are feeling better with the altitude. Hopefully we have finally adjusted. We are very excited to experience Bolivia.

Apparently they eat llama here.


Posted by curlygirl 23:08 Archived in Bolivia Tagged la bolivia paz copacabana Comments (2)

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