Today we arrived in La Paz. This is a huge city at the bottom of a valley. The surrounding hillsides are covered with houses. At night, from our hotel, the view is stunning.
We went to a lookout today but went the wrong way. We ended up taking a local bus but we had no idea where the bus was going. We ended up on the top of the hill in a place where tourists don't go. The place was very dirty and the smell of urine was everywhere. The view from the top was amazing. We looked down on to La Paz then up onto snow-covered mountains. We decided we could walk down. This took us over an hour with lots of steps and very steep roads.
Huge festival today. The road outside the hotel was closed as the procession went past this way. The first band went past about 4.00pm and the last past at 8.00pm. It was a mixture of bands and dancers. The colours and costumes were fantastic. The crowds sat along the streets with tables and chairs and their own food and drink. Most of them were still there at 10.00pm. The fireworks and music went on till almost dawn.
We leave Bolivia today for Peru. I have enjoyed my time in Bolivia and will be sad to leave.
Peru is my last country for this trip. We drive to Llake Titicaca where we will cross over into Peru.
The Bolivian side of the lake is far nicer than the Peru side. Our first night is spent in Puno. The next day we have a 3 hour boat ride to Taquila Island where we stop for lunch. After lunch we are back on the boat and heading for Luquina Pennsul where we have an overnight stay in a house with the local people. As we arrive all the people come to greet us. We also have a band that follows us to the football ground. A game of football now takes place between the locals and us. As we are now at 3855m the locals have a good advantage over us. After the match we are taken to the house we will stay in for the night. There are three of us staying together with the family. They show us our room, very nice but very basic - I have stayed in worse. The kitchen (if you could call it that) is in a separate building from us. We go over to ask if we can help with the meal. We don't understand them and they don't understand us. We are given potatoes and beans to peel and chop. The floor is mud with a raised area at one end with some blankets to sit on. The other end is also raised with a wood fire which they cook on. The whole room is filled with smoke. Eventually we have dinner. We start with soup, then onto rice with what looked like the soup we had just had and ended with coca tea. I am used to coca tea but the rest I just ate enough to be polite.
The family have three girls who were lovely - they seemed to be amused by us. After dinner the wife and children took us back to our room where there were traditional dresses for us to put on. We had four skirts, one on top of the other, all different colours, ending with a red one. Then they wound a woven belt around us so tight. Then a black long sleeved jacket, then a shawl draped over our shoulders held together with a pin. Then last, a bowler hat on our head.
The family were all dressed the same. We make our way up to the meeting hall. The band is already playing and the locals are dancing. When they have finished it's our turn to do the same dance. We end the night with everyone up dancing outside on the playground doing another dance that just gets faster and faster. This was a wonderful experience and something I will never forget.
We leave Luquina this morning. All the family comes to say goodbye.
Once we are on the boat, we make our way to the floating islands. The islands are made of reeds and anchored in place. It's a strange feeling walking on them as they have lots of soft reeds on the top. It was very interesting to see how they were made and how they used to live on them but it was very commercialised (like the islands were meant for the tourists).