by Jerome au Perou
Tue Aug 14th, 2012 at 11:05:22 AM EST
I was not expecting to be able to update the blog today, but there is a strike today and strikes in Bolivia means blocked roads and we are stuck for the moment and unable to proceed with our itinerary...
Sunday, we drove from Puno to La Paz, and yesterday, we took an early plane to Sucre, where we spent the day (and where we are still right now)
The trip from Puno to La Paz is about 4 hours of driving, but we sent the morning on a peninsula on the lake (near the dot on our itinerary on the map above), climbing on some hills that overlook the lake:
(with the lake behind)
(looking at the lake, with the Columbian Andes at the back, although it's not very visible there)
We are happy not to have suffered from altitude sickness to date, and this time was the same, despite the circa 200m climb.
On the way, we walked through a local village. The earth seems quite rich, and the village seemed to be more prosperous than others we went through before. We saw a lot of tombs, as families bury their dead on their own plot of land. Plots are also very small as they are divided between all children upon death.
We saw a woman in traditional garb (absolutely all women wear these hats; unmarried ones have more colored ones...)
We also visite the local market on the main road, where villagers from the place we walked through and others come to trade their goods - we were told this was a barter market. All very colorful, but people don't like their photos to be taken so we had to be a bit discreet (at times, one could wonder who was gaping at whom the most between the tourists and the local, because they look quite alien to each other...)
There are big plains along the lake before getting to the border:
We finally got to the border:
It's a weird process to cross. Our car did not go through the border, so we had to walk through with our luggage to be picked up by a car on the other side. There was no control to speak of, but immigration offices on each side where you need to go to get your passport stamped (and, in our case, get the immigration paper that we need to check-in in any hotel in both countries)
The border is a bridge over the only river flowing out of the Titicaca lake (which gets only a few % of the water from the lake, and which dies in the solar, ie the water of the lake never reaches any ocean):
The countryside in Bolivia is, logically, not too different from that on the Peruvian side, but one could see many small churches nestled in the nearby hills. The country does look poorer than Peru, however:
Suddenly, after a small climb, we arrive on the plain where La Paz lies, with majestic mountains in the back:
In fact, what we saw was "El Alto", the higher part of La Paz and basically a huge slum - we did not see a single complete building along the route getting in, and very basic infrastructure.
The statue of the Che marks the entrance to the highway to the center (the highway bridge is actually occupied by an open air market, with people walking everywhere, so it's hard to drive on the highway there... until you get to the toll to the autopista, and realize that the city is actually some ways below:
We arrived in the center just at sunset, and did not visit much. We drove past the San Fransisco church, one of the main attractions (we'll be back in a few days to visit) to get to our hotel for the night and a very early start the next morning.
[update after successfully leaving Sucre]
So the next day we flew very early to Sucre and had almost a full day over there. It has a lovely centre, built as usual around the main (square) square, and seemed relatively prosperous.
We even visited the local textile and musical museum...
WE were supposed to leave the the morning for Potosi and visit the silver mines this afternoon, but due to the strike, we only arrived late in the afternoon in Potosi (photos will follow) and will do the visit tomorrow, before going onwards to Uyuni, where the Solar starts...