Thursday, September 27, 2007


Today went to visit Tiwanaku which is about 72kms from La Paz. It is one of the oldest Andean sites in South America. The civilization began about 1600 b.c. and was at its strongest at least 1000 years before the Incas came to this area. So the site is amazingly well preserved considering it´s date. They are still discovcring and excavating a lot of the area as it covers a large part of the valley. The most impressive is the ceremonial temple which is all based around the sun and the equinoxes and has load of brilliant carved faces in the stone. I´ve managed to upload some of my photos if you want to see more:

We had the funniest guide - she was a very sweet Aymara woman who had to contend with a group speaking five different languages. It is probably the first time someone has ever called me tall - as she only came up to well below my shoulder. When she saw one of the guys who was about 6´4 she just giggled away.

I´ve also managed to see a bit more of La Paz. It´s a crazy, busy city where you have to risk your life trying to cross the road. Luckily most of the streets are one way so you only have to worry about getting killed in one direction! On the main thoroughfare there is one zebra crossing where they actually have people dressed as zebras to help you across. ´Tis mad.
Took a break from the mayhem to visit some of the museums - first the museum of Musical Instruments was really interesting with wind and string instruments of all shapes and sizes. There were various stringed instruments where the case was made of all sorts of animals including tortoise, chincilla, armadillo but my favourite one was made from a Spam tin.
The museum of Precious Metals was amazing in that it contained an incredible collection of gold from Tiwanaku and other sites. There were some beautiful gold head-dresses which were in great condition. Apparently in pre-Columbian times the whole temples at Tiwanaku were covered with gold which must have looked incredible before it was all stolen away.

Better go cos this connection is costing a whole 30cent a hour! Everything very cheap here - it´s a real issue to have to change a 100 Boliviano note - that´s about a tenner.

Hasta pronto,

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hola a todos!
Have arrived in La Paz in Bolivia. The airport you arrive at is at 4000m altitude, the city itself is about 3700m. So spending a few days just getting used to the altitude - it tires you out very quickly so just chilling today. Coca tea is helping though! They have a complimentary supply available at the hotel which is a lovely restored old building with a cultural centre included.
I went for a wander around the markets today- including the Witches´Market. They have all sorts of weird things available as offerings, the most gross being llama fetuses which are used to bless new construction. I really don´t want to know how they manage to get so many fetuses. Also saw dried frogs, snakes and even an armadillo but not sure I want to know what those are used for either. The locals market is very colourful with all sorts of clothes, shoes, household goods and even toilets for sale on the side of the street.
Hopefully going to do a few days tours around La Paz before I join the group on Sat. We´re then heading down to the south of Bolivia to visit the silver mining area and the massive Salt Lakes that are supposed to be amazing.
Hasta luego.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The plan

Here's the plan...the first month I'm going to be in Bolivia and then Peru. Starting in La Paz and then explore the high Salt plains before heading to Peru via Lake Titicaca. All the usual Peruvian sites - Cusco, the Inca Trail, Machu Pichu and Nazca lines. Then up to Ecuador for three weeks up in the mountains and volcanos and then down in the Amazon for a few days. From the equator I then fly all the way down to Patagonia to spend three weeks enjoying the Argentine and Chilean wilderness and visit the most southerly city in the world. Back up then via Buenos Aires to Iguazu and on to Rio where I am spending my last week sailing on a tall ship down the coast of Brazil. Back home just in time for Christmas. Well that's the plan at the moment - check back to see if I've stuck to it!