We didn’t do much in La Paz to be honest, acclimatizing to the altitude was enough for us. We did wander around a little bit – the whole city is like a giant market, as Bolivians don’t like shops – and we did a walking tour, which was excellent. We’ve done free walking tours in nearly every city and this one of was the most enjoyable. The witches market was the coolest part of the city – although I will never stop being creeped out by the sale of dead llama foetuses. Apparently if you’re going to build a house, you have to bury them under the foundations for good luck. We also got told a story about how if it’s a bigger building like a hotel, you need to bury a dead person underneath the foundations for good luck, but I’m choosing to believe that’s just a story. I think. It’s really interesting how the Catholic beliefs exist alongside the traditional ones. The people seem equally fervent about both. The ladies all wear traditional costume and are badass – you see them walking up steep hills with a baby on their back and two gigantic bags in each hand. I don’t know how they do it. Apparently they can also curse you in four languages if you annoy them, so I don’t have any pictures of them…!
From La Paz, we flew to Rurrenabaque to spend a few days in the Amazonian jungle! This was awesome. Our guide was a member of the Tacana people and we got to visit his village, learn how to weave, learn how to shoot a bow and arrow (I was good at both of these, Michael is sadly superfluous in indigenous society… “harsh but fair,” he says), make cane sugar juice, swim in a natural pool, and see lots of animals. The rainforest is hot. And it rains a lot. I know this is stating the obvious, but wow. It really was.
We stayed in two different ecolodges, that were lovely, but rustic. The rainforest is NOISY at night… but the first night went well. The second night… after first ejecting a noisy cicada from the room, we went to sleep only to be woken by a… something landing on the bed beside Michael’s head. We investigated with the portable solar lamp (no electricity!) and saw… a mouse. Who then proceeded to CLIMB THE WALLS and run around the beams on the ceiling. So that wasn’t the greatest night sleep we ever had. The third night was spent in a second ecolodge. No mice in this one, but there was a frog and a pretty giant spider. We told ourselves that our mosquito nets were also frog- and spider-proof. And we’re alive to tell the tail.
We got pretty mosquito bitten and extremely filthy, but it was definitely an amazing experience.
After returning to La Paz on the hottest, tiniest, bumpiest plane EVER, we bussed to Copacabana and visted the Isla del Sol. This is the island on Lake Titicaca where the Incan people originated – Incan legend says its the birthplace of the sun god. We had intended to hike across the island, but the altitude put paid to that and we took a boat from north to south instead. We managed to get pretty sunburned too; it wasn’t that hot, but it’s easy to get burned when you’re that high up. It’s a pretty cool place, with donkeys and little piglets wandering around, Inca ruins and terraced farmland. And when we ate lunch, we saw a boat come in with produce for the locals and we got to see them load up their donkeys and llamas and set off up the hills. I loved that, I do like people-things more than ruin-things sometimes… although the ruins were pretty epic in themselves.
Now we’re in Cusco, Peru, taking it easy before starting the Inca Trail on Wednesday. I love it here, they have good good food and a Starbucks as well as the amazing buildings and touristy shops, so I’m in my element. It’s the simple things!