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Trip Start Nov 03, 2012
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Trip End Dec 31, 2012


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Flag of Bolivia  , La Paz,
Saturday, November 17, 2012

http://www.america-ecotours.com/trips_info.php?p=ATMG_01.html
https://www.facebook.com/Joellider?ref=ts&fref=ts
 

After a rushed breakfast we met our tour guide, Joel. We left La Paz at about 8am, walking half a block to get on a bus filled with tourists, some headed to Copacabana and the island of the sun and some moving on through to Puno.

Our guide, Joel, was a funny bugger, asking us questions and answering with a lame 'dad joke' punch lines. "What do you call a dog that doesn't sit in the shade?"  errmmm....  (should have seen it coming) "A hot dog!"

The trip to Copacabana is long but relatively comfortable. We arrived at a dock where we were ferried across a strait taking 20 mins or so. However all passengers had to get off the bus and onto little water taxis's to make the crossing while the bus took a barge.
A further 45mins and we were in Copacabana.

Joel walked us through the city centre and up the road two blocks to our accommodation. A cross between a bed and breakfast, hostel and hotel.  Suitably impressed, we dropped our bags off and headed back to the square to have lunch.  A lovely three course meal - for once we ate most of it. Next stop - a tour of the church.

Copacabana cathedral is brilliantly white and covered in mosaic domes. Outside the main gates was a battalion of cars, lined up, mostly orderly, almost all new, covered in flowers, llamas, flags and bunting, even hats. All awaiting the priest to come forth and bestow a blessing.
Copacabana is the only place where this is done, and in some festivals it takes days and involves thousands of cars. Joel also pointed out a stand selling minature houses, shops, cars, money and even cats.  People wishing to own one of these at some point would buy the minature version to have blessed by the priest in the hope the wish would come true.  The houses even had a car and a dog in the front yard.  

The cathedral itself is in the shape of the cross.  Within it is filled with the scent of flowers, thousands of them.
A back room was where wishes in wax were made. Penitents would buy candles, go within, light them and then mould the melting wax on the walls.

We parted with Joel for a while and walked around the town which found us buying some hats.  A beanie for Tina at 15BOB (3ish AUD) and a shady hat for Alexis 30BOB. After which we went back to our lodging to the sound of music played by a brass band. Spent done time hanging around in one of the plentiful hammocks reading and relaxing, the music still washing over us.

The music was still going when Joel came by to take us up a little walk. Up a little hill he said.
The hill behind our hostel was not little.  As we walked towards the base of the hill the music got louder. Celebrations would continue throughout the night so we used the beat to push us to the starting point, a trek up the hill which followed the stations of the cross. To the top where we hoped to see a sunset worthy of recording. Sadly the weather was against us and clouds took over.
Hopefully we would have more luck when we visit the island of the sun tomorrow.

Returned to the restaurant which is upstairs of our accommodation and had dinner with Joel.  The meal included the much praised Quinoa grain. Alexis had some local trout caught from the lake which, aside from the occasional bone was delicious. Tina had chicken milanesa which was pan-fried and covered in sauteed onions, tomatoes and capsicum - yum!

The end of the day found us drifting off to sleep to the slightly less than mellow tunes of the band.
They were still going strong at 3am.
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