Saturday 9 Jun
La Paz2, Bolivia
Cruisin´for a bruisin´...
Its been a while, plenty has gone down, in La Paz (the highest capital in the world) Bolivia at 3660m. Its in a massive basin with houses and buildings spilling over its rim and down into the city centre. An amazing site to behold as you enter from above as there are snow capped peaks framing the scene.
The sacred valley in Peru was outstanding. We viewed plenty of Inca Ruins. Pisaq was wonderful to wander through as it wound down and around a mountain with winding pathways that at times tunnelled through the mountain. It's perfect stone terraces running down the side of the huge mountain were......well perfect. Atop the complex afforded vast views stretching out, along & through the surrounding valleys.
Down in the small town below Em searched for and discovered the best cheesecake in the world. She was told about it by Pats, a friend we met in La Ticla Mexico. She was speechless, and it was well messy......cake all over the joint.
Train to Machu Picchu is a massive rip off and they run a monopoly on transport to Aguas Calientes ( the town from which you visit the Lost City). The only other way involves three buses and a 2 hour hike......at least a whole day but normally two. We were soft so trained it from the last stop, Ollayantaytambo. Massive Inca Ruins sprawling once again down and around a mountain loomed over the little town.....it was nothing short of spectacular. The ruins were far more impressive from the town square than up there amongst them.
Even though a rip off...the one and half hour train ride to Aguas Calientes was probably the most breathtaking I've done, in sections. We followed a raging river through valleys, lush mountains covered in dense jungle standing tall on both sides of the tracks, Inca ruins teasing us as we whizzed by, snow capped mountains peaking out from behind it all on the horizon.
Aguas Calientes is an ugly town in an unbelievably beautiful setting, on the river, surrounded by lush cloud forest that sprawled itslef around and over the beautiful granite mountains. For our first glimpse of Machu Picchu we climbed Putucusi mountain which stood opposite. A tough climb, that included a near vertical section on man made wooden stairs, pretty unnerving...wouldn't want to slip thats for sure. At the top we sat alone on a huge boulder, in the late afternoon absolutely gobsmacked and in complete awe at our first glimpse of the magical Lost City of the Incas. It sat majestically on the mountain opposite us, both its granduer and beauty spellbinding.
Next day up early to catch sunrise at the ruins. Gates open at 6am, so missed it though still greeted by a spectacular scene with clouds and mist enshrouding the ruins. Waited overlooking the main ruins for the sun to climb over the mountains and carress everything with its warm glow. The whole place came to life in a different way when this happened, absolutely magical. Having built the place up so much in our minds, we were unsure it would live up to our expectations. In fact it exceeded them on all levels. Even though its crawling with tourists (like ourselves) & a massive rip off in more ways than one. The joint is......Sublime.
From there we left the ruins and did a bit of a mission that night to reach Copacabana so that we could spend my birthday in Bolivia. There on Lake Titicaca had a killer time eating tasty foods and buying plenty of interesting jewellery. Heaps of artesans selling crazy stones and all types of interesting stuff. Em got me a special amber necklace & a casio calculator watch (which she had purchased in Central America)....I've now got full "computer club" geek style!!, and its not just that....its functional too, I've been converting prices left right and centre.......best present ever!!!!
Across from the lake we stayed one night on Isla del Sol (Island of the sun), In the Inca creation story it is the birthplace of the sun. A special spot, no roads therefore no cars.....what a difference! Twas heaps like a greek island in terms of dry landscape, the few gumtrees and the vast blueness of lake Titicaca resembling the Med.
Also bumped into our Canadian mate Jamey so have been cruisin round with him last few days.
Now in La Paz, mad city and we're lovin it. Hangin out in the centre, old town, but the other day ventured out to uptown where the "haves" all reside. Totally different world, almost unbelievable.
Tried to check out San Pedro Prison which is in the heart of Centro - which if I understand correctly is pretty much self governed by the inmates. They rent their cells, so if cashed up live a good life but the poor ones share with up to maybe 20 others. Families come and go with many children living inside with their parents, going out in the day for school etc, then returning at night as they have no other place to go. A bizare set up.....tho I think its not the worst of the worst in there, more like drug offences etc. Anyway they've stopped tourists visiting so we got knocked back emphatically by the guards (who seem only to be on the outside).
Yesterday we did the "worlds most dangerous road" on mountain bike, which isnt all that dangerous anymore because they've finally opened a new road therefore eliminating the need for most traffic to use it. That means there's really no risk of being run off the narrow road by an oncoming vehicle. Was still a crazy day and quite risky in parts if your hammering. Supposedly something like 9 tourists have taken the plunge in the last 6 years. Lots of plaques and crosses commemorating the unlucky ones. THe ride begins amongst snowy peaks at 4700m and descends around 3500 to 1200m so some killer scenery. You see plenty of truck and bus wrecks over the side. Witnessed what could've been a diabolical accident. Sitting having lunch on a shocker of a bend where an israeli guy died not long ago, we watched as a guide slowed down his group to a stop because it was a crazy section. As he waited a huge rock came crashing down onto the road and over the edge....if they hadn't stopped somebody would have copped it or at least been put off their game enough to go over the edge. Very sobering.....Ironically it was right next to the little shrine for the other guy who died there.
The best bit was coming back up the same road that arvo in our minibus. Met three vehicles coming the opposite way so I guess people still use it..... Oh yeah Em did so well made it thru all the dangerous sections no probs then hit a tricky patch near the bottom and took a dive over the handlebars....thankfully no broken bones just plenty of bruising and a good story for later! So don't worry Verity, it was a nasty spill but somehow she came out of it A-ok. Just very sore today.
FInally off to the Amazon tomorrow, a place called Rurrenabaque. !8 hours on the bus, should be fun on the Bolivian roads. Gettin'keen to restle an anaconda, Kiss a Caimen and go skinny dippin'with some pirahnas.