La Paz, Bolivia, and jungle lowlands




Hi, y’all. This is all out of sequence again, but internet connections were really slow in b
Bolivia. The above pictures are of La Paz. One is obviously a shot of the city from high ground. The bus pic is the view of the street I stayed on, and the other one is right around the corner tothe right. La Paz isn’t all that photogenic. It has some nice colonial architecture, like so many other cities. I hung around there a bit to take care of some things. The best thing was a huge, 16 hour parade and street party they had for Bolivia’s bicentenial. I have pictures, but for some reason I can’t upload pictures taken in wide screen on my camera. What’s that about? Maybe when I get these all put on DVD I can upload them. Also, once I’m in Korea, I can download the picture program CD that came with the camera.
After La Paz, I went to Bolivia’s savannah wetlands, which they call pampas but aren’t anything like what the Argentines call pampas. It’s low wetland, full of alligators, the biggest rodents in the world called capybaras, birds, snakes and more. I saw literally hundreds of alligators and their relative the caimans, and capybaras.






The only way to do this, really, was to go on a tour. The pampas tour is generally three days. I also went on a jungle tour for three days. I booked them in the only town of any size for 300 km, Rurrenabaque (pop 13,000). You can get there by going five days downriver from La Paz, taking a chicken bus overnight for 16 hours on dirt roads, chartering a four-wheel drive for about $50 each which does it in only 12 hours, or you can fly in only 40 minutes for $60. Call me lazy in my old age, but I flew. The drawback to that method is they cancel the flights if it rains and renders the dirt and grass landing strip useless. It’s didn’t rain for me.


Here’s Rurrenabaque.


One of the things that is part of the regular tour is slogging through the marsh looking for anacondas. This kind of walking is a little fatiguing. There’s quicksand, too, but reality is you only go down about a foot, at least here. It’s still a wierd sensation.



The snakes are there. We saw three. This little one was the biggest we saw, about 3 meters long, and way strong. It did NOT want to be pulled out of the weeds.



The sleeping arrangements were pretty good, really. On the pampas tour, I shared a big dorm-like room with only two German women. There were mosquito nets and decent food by the cook. What else could your ask for? We even had this companion on a post outside our door.


That’s a tarrantula, by the way, if you didn’t know. They are about the size of your hand and are harmless.
The other good thing is the river dolphins. At times we had really good looks at them, but I have no pictures. The babies are pink and very cute. Take my word for it. They are not rare here. You go out on the boat, jump in and swim with them. God only knows what was in that water, but it was worth it. I remember a couple of years ago Myung and I went a long way to see river dolphins in a stretch of the Mekhong River between Cambodia and Loas. And in Bolivia you can sit on the porch and watch them while you are having your morning coffee.
You can take a jungle tour for as long as you want, but most opt for three days because otherwise it’s about trekking. Call me old again, but I bagged that option. My knee was still hurting from a bicycle mishap a week before, anyway. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it. The jungle is to the west of Rurrenabaque and the pampas is to the east, so you have to return to Rurre. That trip wasn’t as good, but it was jungly. Many boars, a few birds, and a couple of cobras. Everybody liked my oft told story about eating these at that refugee camp in Thailand.


This is the sleeping arrangement and the food at that camp. I paid a little more and was rewwarded with being in a small group of five the first night and only three the second. I got the cabin on the left all to myself.



That all brings me up to about four days ago. I flew back to La Paz and immediately got on a bus for Copacabana on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world at about 13,000 feet, 4000 meters. I hung out around there for a couple of days and went to a lovely, archeologically important Inca area, Lago del Sol, for a couple of more days. That’s for another blog entry, though. Today I went to Puno, Peru, about three hours from there. I’m just spending the night to break up the trip between Copa and Cuzco. Cuzco is interesting. I was there about eight years ago. It’s interesting in it’s own right, but it’s also the jumping off point for Macchu Picchu. I plan to go there again, though this time I’m taking the train which gets you to within an hour and a half walk from there. It’ll take about seven to eight hours to get to Cuzco, so I’ll do that walk the day after tomorrow.
I’m not used to scheduling my time. I leave for Korea on the 22nd. That’s only 10 days away! I can barely wrap my mind around that. It’ll go fast, in a sense, but on the other hand I’m in spring fever mode. I’m looking forward to seeing Myung again. It’s been a couple of months. She’s still scoping out ways to make money. We’ll work on that together when I get there. Maybe we’ll go try something in China. There is absolutely nothing definite yet. We’ll see how it goes. The upshot is that I may be more or less relatively stable for a while. Probably we’ll get a place to call home. Frankly, I could use a break.
It looks like Peruvian internet connections may be fast enough to upload more pictures. So it’s likely I’ll blog again at least once before getting out of Dodge. The only thing is I’m plannig to wind down in a remote area of the Andes north of Lima for the last few days. So, I hope to be in touch, but if I can’t, see you in Korea.
Be well, all of you.

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