With the threat of not being able to get out of La Paz and Bolivia today due to strikes disrupting traffic, we jumped out of bed at 06:15 having overslept because I was too tired to hear my alarm and were on our way by 06:40 – our new record for quick starts.
La Paz is a major city with little infrastructure to support the masses of people who live there and in the surrounding area.
We weren’t the only ones who were on the road early. That is Martin Egli in front of us in his beautiful Lagonda. For any of our followers from Peking to Paris 2010, Martin had this wonderful car on that rally also and did very well only losing two wings (fenders) before having to retire in Italy because of a blown transmission. The car is running perfectly now.
The traffic even at this early hour was awful with trucks and busses spewing diesel exhaust – what a way to start your day. It was a good thing we were “reverse commuters”.
Even going in our direction, the going was tough from time to time. Vehicles just stop in the middle of the street to pick up and discharge passengers.
The main culprits in all the congestion is what seems like millions of these little vans. They must act as community taxi cabs bringing passengers into the city each day. How people know which of these little busses to get into I have no idea. If they can’t get to the curb to pick up or discharge passengers, they just double or triple park – just truly amazing.
The dust and dirt is everywhere, only the dogs don’t seem to mind. Construction and demolition is a way of life – we couldn’t distinguish which was which.
All the older women wear brightly colored skirts and black or grey bowler hats. At this hour, there were no younger women apparent although last night on the way into the city, the younger gals seem to wear western clothes as we would see in the states. I tried for a better picture but it just didn’t want to happen and the camera was running out of battery.
It is clear we are in the Andes – La Paz itself is at 13,300 feet.
Today we had the pleasure of a ferry ride across Lake Titicaca. The ferry was basically a barge with an outboard motor. I would have loved to have taken a picture of it but the battery was gone and the last two shots I had were saved for the lake.
Lake Titicaca is an enormous body of water lying in both Peru and Bolivia at 12,585 feet. The western part of the lake lies within the Puno Region of Peru, and the eastern side is located in the Bolivian La Paz Department. The lake is composed of two nearly separate sub-basins that are connected by the Strait of Tiquina which is 2,620 ft across and where we crossed.
The first one is looking east toward Bolivia …
This is looking west into Peru …
With no camera left to help out, I’ll have to resort to a brief narrative.
As it was just after 08:00, there were many children along the road on their way to school. Like right out of the story books and the little poem “Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”, the younger ones were walking along holding hands – precious.
The border crossing was simple, fast and well organized both exiting Bolivia (thank goodness) and entering Peru. We learned one reason for this was that we were crossing at a remote control with relatively little traffic – what a good choice.
Once into Peru, it was immediately apparent that we were in a different country. Houses were neat with no piles of dirt and trash in front and while not fancy, they were in much better condition. The animals, except for the dogs, were all tethered and the land neatly divided by stone walls – a welcome change.
Another Kodak moment that we missed was when we came up behind one of the little mini busses which had a luggage rack on its roof. In the luggage rack was one bundle of a passenger’s possessions but also about five sheep, all lying there minding their own business and enjoying the ride – priceless!
We arrived in Puno at 13:00 (that’s 1 pm for the non-military types – see this has been an educational experience for some of you – first you learned how to convert kilometers to miles and now you should understand military 24 hour time) looking forward to lunch and a well-deserved nap. We are staying at the Liberator Hotel which is a beautiful resort right on Lake Titicaca. For anyone traveling to this part of the world, I would highly recommend it – pictures tomorrow.
One last note, we couldn’t find the battery charger for the camera – oh no, not another major setback, however, by conducting a total unpacking of all his luggage, Lloyd did manage to find the little rascal hiding in a remote corner of one of his bags. We’re back in business!