Sunday, August 9, 2009

Day 29 - Dead Llamas, Etc.

We left Isla de Sol in the morning in order to take the 10 am boat back to Copacabana. Reaching there at 11 am, we were planning on taking the 1:30 bus to La Paz, but a bus was leaving at 11:30 so we opted for that one instead. After an hour, the conductor told us to get off the bus. We would cross a lake in a separate boat as the bus floated across in its own boat. Once on the other side, we resumed the bus ride.

Driving into La Paz was like descending into a funnel. Even though the city is the highest capital in the world, the roads to the city were above it. We spiralled downward into a bowl of buildings and red brick houses. Cusco had its sloping roads, but La Paz beat the Peruvian city as far as steepness was concerned. The rises and falls left me gasping for breath, while the locals were prancing about wihout batting an eyelash. For an hour and a half, we treated up and down the thigh-strengthening streets, looking for hotels. We finally found one in a tiny alley. Hotel Cactus wsa in the midst of an area known as Witches Market. Old, cackly women sat in booths holding natural (and unnatural) roots and potions. A strong smell of incense permeated the air around the market. Most booths had llama fetuses hanging from their stalls. These shrivelled creatures were to be offered as sacrifices to Pachamama, Mother Earth. If dead llamas weren´t your thing, you could always go for the mummified bird skeletons, along with a wide assortment of other dead animals.

In order to prepare a sumptious breakfast tomorrow, we made a trip to the market to pick up fruits, vegetables, bread, and cheese. The vendors reasserted the negative attitude I´ve come to associate with Bolivians, especially the women. I was inspecting some mandarins when the owner of the stall yelled at me to not touch things without permission. All of them weren´t that rude, but I found it fairly common for these ladies to be stoic and unsmiling.

La Paz has a lot to offer in terms of nightlife, but the boys were fast asleep in half an hour. I read Dostoevsky´s "The Brothers Karamazov" until I too decided it was time to call it a day.

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