A little tip off from Paul Dix!

Trip Start Oct 01, 2012
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Trip End Oct 01, 2015


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Flag of Bolivia  , La Paz Department,
Wednesday, February 6, 2013

We left Lima after an amazing weekend and made our way to the ormeno bus terminal - the bus journey we wanted left at 9am so we arrived at 7.30 to book our seats- it was fully booked so we trudged along the main road trying various agencies, all were full or didn't do the route we wanted. We ended up booking onto a bus for 6 hours later and so was the beginning of our 55 hour journey of hell to reach la Paz!
4 buses, 1 hotel and 2 days later though we arrived tired but eager to get on with our trip. We headed straight out to book our next few days, we arranged tiunaku and puma punka for the following day and booked our buses and trips for the salt flats a few days after that. We'd spent a lot of money and so headed to the local market to grab some cheap food - it was here we realised we'd left our cash card in the ATM!
Needless to say the next few hours were spent making numerous international calls and cancelling cards. By the time we were done it was late and so we headed to a nearby Mexican restaurant where we spent the evening drinking wine, eating beautiful food and celebrating how well we'd handled a bad situation- any excuse for a celebration!
The next day we set off early to explore the ancient ruins of tiwanaku and puma punku.
Both sites are around 1.5 hours west of la Paz and consist of ancient ruins dating back to pre Incan times. We arrived mid morning and firstly began with a tour of a couple of museums where we first saw a monolith- a huge stone statue. The largest Monolith at Tiwanaku is 24 feet high and weighs around 20 ton, known as the Bennett monolith, or 'Pachamama' monolith, it stood for several years in front of La Paz stadium when it was taken from the original site at Tiwanaku in 1932. The monolith was ceremoniously returned in March 2002.
The next stop was the city itself - surrounded in large part by mountains and hills, the city reached its peak by roughly AD 500 and AD 1000 covering an area of around 2 square miles and is thought to have had a population of around 10,000.
Having visited a few ruins since our time here we were expecting much of the same , what we saw however was entirely different. The huge stone monoliths towered into the sky from various positions around the site, the carvings on the walls and gateways were beautiful and the semi underground temple was incredible. It's a rectangular structure set under the existing ground level and has 175 heads nailed to the 4 walls. Apparently the heads are supposed to represent the different races , however some look just like aliens!
We explored the ruins for a couple of hours before our group headed off for lunch, we'd brought our own and so took the opportunity to head to puma punku - the main event! We arrived and found that we had the entire site to ourselves - after hearing so much about it from Paul we were excited to explore.
The site was amazing with intricately cut and huge stones weighing over 100t which came from the mountains in the distance that surrounded the site, there was no explanation as to how they got there.
It was great that we got an hour or so there by ourselves before the rest of our group joined us.
Then it was time for a little snooze on the bus on our way back to la Paz.
That evening we decided to cook for ourselves, I was left in charge and managed to mess up pasta and sauce... I blame the kitchen!
Then we headed out for a few drinks to a bar which we shared with an incredibly loud group of Australians!
We awoke the next morning with sore heads and explored la Paz for the last time. We picked up a couple of extra things for our trip the following day and some last minute souvenirs and ate our own weight in pizza at our favourite pizza restaurant. We also headed to San pedro square, home of the famous San pedro prison from the book marching powder.
San Pedro is arguably the most notorious prison in South America. Inmates are expected to pay for their cells, the poor sharing hovels while the wealthier bag themselves rooms resembling studio apartments. The more enterprising might also practise a trade (barbers, carpenters) or become proprietors of internal restaurants. Whole families live inside, with prisoners' wives and children free to come and go. Until recently you could even pay some of the inmates and go inside yourself. Feeling a little awkward as we stood looking at the building full of lost souls - having given up their lives after being convicted mostly for drug charges, we decided to leave again and head to the bus station where we had booked our bus to uyuni. We arrived at the bus station, showed our tickets and were waved in the direction of a luxury looking bus with full lay down seats resembling that you'd find in business class. We stored our bags and waited in line to board, as we got to the front we were pushed away from the door and waved away, the guy shouting otra bus otra bus, a lady was waiting to take us away from our luxury transport to another bus so we begrudgingly removed our bags and followed her to a rusty old bus round the corner. The seats hardly reclined and we shared our journey with just locals, crying babies and the odd chicken - fried of course- everyone seemed to have picked up a takeaway before boarding and the bus smelt like KFC for the rest of the night. One plus was that we were given really thick blankets - which we needed as we climbed higher still and the temperature overnight dropped considerably. 16 hours later (the journey was meant to be 12) we arrived in uyuni - late for our pre booked and pre paid for tour!
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Comments

stephanddave
stephanddave on

Glad I'm not the only one who messes up pasta and sauce!! I did it in NZ and threw half the pasta into the soapy dishwater...ooops! Was totally the sinks fault!! However there was a nice hint of lemon flavor to the meal. xx

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