So let's get straight to the juicy gossip... And there are a few.
1 In the central square of La Paz is the most insane prison. San Pedro prison is controlled by the inmates and evolves around money. You pay to get in, you pay for your own cell, you buy your own food - the more money you have the better you live! It is effectively a little town with shops, restaurants, clinics, clubs, basically everything you can think of inside and families living with their imprisoned husbands/fathers. The biggest fact about this prison is that they produce the purest 'sugar' in town, and it's smuggled out by inmates throwing used baby nappies over the walls - who would pick up a dirty nappy right? (read the book marching powder to find out more about this prison).
2 The weirdest wrestling matches are held here performed by Bolivian 'Chorlitas' dressed in full traditional attire, IT IS NUTS! We could never watch normal wrestling again.
3 Even more nuts yet still practiced in Bolivia is witchcraft! If you have been struck by lightening you can practice as a witch doctor and undertake the ritual of sacrifice. When building a new house a llama featous is buried within the foundations by the enlightened witch/wizard, but when erecting a large building a human is sacrificed within the foundation! Oh and I forgot to mention, the human ain't dead!!! Only witches struck by lightening twice are able to perform this ritual.
4 La Paz is not the capital of Bolivia, although the government resides here, it's actually Sucre #justcos.
5 Why do chorlitas wear bowler hats? The story goes that when the English were working on the train lines during the imperial times, they thought it good trade to introduce bowler hats to the Bolivian men so they placed a large order of the hats from Italy. Little did they know that while the population are small in stature they actually have BIG heads. The ladies on the other hand took a liking to the hats and the rest was history. You can tell the marital status of a cholita by the way they wear their hats.
As for La Paz itself, the food is great and cheap, the city is chaotic and is built upon the surrounding mountain.
Don´t expect customer service with a smile.
No sense of health and safety!
State of WCs:
3/10 Not so good! Baño de natural aka lots of peeing in the bushes outside towns. Lack of tiolet paper and toilet seats
-3*c - 23*c
Jam and bread
No. Of bites:
Maryam 7 v 5 Andy
Dust... alot of dust, bad teeth yet many dental clinics, lots of coca leaf sucking, young couples canoodling
Altitude sickness and Malaria tablets don´t really go together
Flamingos, llamas, alpacas, vicuñas, kiwis, galls, too many types of insect in the amazon, snake, howler and spider monkeys, makeets (parrot family) and many other birds
Relatively cheap than other parts of SA, exept for all the hidden little taxes everywhere, even on walks!
If you want to experience amazing landscape then Bolivia can be your one stop shop in South America. A three day Jeep excursion from Uyuni took us to the vast white salt flats (formed by the evaporation of a humongous salt water lake), through the Bolivian desert and into the Eduardo Abaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve which contained some of the most stunning scenery we have ever seen (we'll let the photos do the talking).
'In the jungle the mighty jungle the lion (jaguar) sleeps tonight... A wayyyy...'
After the bumpiest plane journey over the Andes in the smallest 'commercial' jet we'd ever seen (19 seats) we arrived in Rurrenabaque ready to make our way to the Amazon jungle! Who'd have thought it would rain in the RAINforest? We didn't... a 2 hour boat ride in what can only be described as a monsoon and we arrived at our lodge soaked to the bone!
Bolivian men don't just like a 'bit on the side', they like a few on the side, especially in Potosi! The majority of Potosi's male population work in the Cerro Rico mine situated above the city and due to the harsh working environments and subsequent short lifespans, they like to ensure they get as much enjoyment out of their years as possible! Having many women leads to having many children and the majority of miners have between 6 and 8 juniors, not necessarily all from their 'official' wife.
The mines produce 80% silver and are divided into cooperatives with no government funding. Conditions are atrocious and the techniques used are pre-historic to say the least having developed marginally in the 500 years the mine has been open (and that's the use of a head torch). They even follow the same traditions and folklores of 500 years ago, believing in 'patchi mama' (mother earth) and the 'uncle', both of whom they celebrate twice a month with lots of alcohol.
I'm sure you're wondering who the 'uncle' is... The uncle is the mountain God and has a very noticeable feature - a MASSIVE dong! Well endowed statues of the uncle are located within each cooperatives' section of the mines and the miners make offerings by placing a lit cigarette into its mouth, coca leaves around its base and pouring alcohol onto various areas including its penis in a blessing for fertility (no wonder they have so many children
We travelled through beautiful Bolivia with the lovely Jane and Rory who prepped us about the art of spending New Year`s in Sydney.
Next stop Peru for some serious hiking!
Its literal translation is 'Red Puma' - The lake isn't red... #awkwardturtle. Supposedly it is shaped like a Puma (though we're not sure we agree). What is for certain though, the Incas believed the sun was born here at the Ilha del Sol which is in the middle of the lake. We stayed in a town called Copacabana (we found out there are lots of copacabanas in South America) and went for the day to the island, hiking its length which took about 4 hours. For such a small island we had to pay THREE 'entrance fees' - one for the northern town, one for the middle hiking trail and one for the southern town! They sure know how to make their money from us tourists!
If you ever make the trek though, either practice holding your bladder or be prepared to pee wherever and whenever! I believe the Bolivian term is 'Bano au Naturale'. Oh and we made a little video of our little Lego friends...
As if going to the Amazon wasn't stupid enough, we decided it would be fun to camp the second night. Noooo, don't be silly, not in a tent! A couple of sleeping mats and a mosquito net is all and as we came to bed we were welcomed with a nice jungle surprise... a tarantula awaiting our arrival! On the last day we built a raft and sailed down the river.
Too many poisonous insects, spiders and even trees (yes trees!) to comprehend and a dead-pan tour guide made the Amazon a great laugh. 'This tree... he is not your friend' he would say before explaining how one drip of its sap was enough to kill 10 men!
We were also joined on the island by one of Zoheb´s friends at google maps! (or is it alphabet maps now?) They were also hiking the island carrying their mobile camera set-up to map its trails. Keep your eye out for us on Google street view! #4thtimeluckyforandy