Saturday, July 19, 2008

Bolivia - Fred & Hazel

Hi all

Here we are back at Arthy´s Guest House after fun in the Sorata area (to the West of here).

Sorata is 1000 meters lower and therefore a lot warmer than here - you can watch the humming birds hovering and feeding off flowers.

We stayed at a little paradise, camped amongst the trees, with llamas tethered here and there, quietly mewing and grazing. The Bolivian owner is a very friendly fatherly figure and makes everyone so welcome you want to stay on.

From there we had 5 days in the surrounding mountains, which we accessed with packs on mules, you know, hands (and back) free. A day later we headed without mules up to a glacier lake at 5000 metres asl, where we acclimatised for three days, wandering around, practicing with ice axe and crampons on the glacier, and taking in the fabulous views. What we confirmed is that that is about my altitude limit whereas Hazel seems to have plenty of go left.

I have had lots of practice with my Spanish, including a long conversation with the police at the Sorata Police Station about the why´s and wherefores of our camera being ´stolen´. At any rate we have lost it. Two elderly women had their boots stolen from under their tent fly at about the same time, and one of them had to descend 1000 metres of rocky paths in her socks (the other was lent a pair of shoes by a muleteer). Needless to say the local situation is a bit edgy, and some
of the locals don´t like tourists going anywhere without a guide (money) which goes against the grain with independent minded tourists who are pumping money into the economy in all sorts of other ways.

Bolivia has a very large population of campasinos, the people who predate the Spanish by millenia, and are still the vast majority. Typically they are a friendly lot, not excitable, better drivers than the Indians (in India), and full of confidence. Many of the rural women look just like the pictures in magazines, with long black platted hair under bowler hats and with multilayered colourful gathered skirts and shawls. The total presentation is what was imposed on them by the Spanish 500 years ago (taken straight from current spanish dress), we are told. They are extreemly proud of this ´traditional dress´ now.

The men by contrast wear ordinary clothing but often have a close fitting wool hat and a padded or leather jacket, not surprising considering the change in air temperature at night on the altiplano at 4000 metres.

Amongst others we have met two young New Zealand couples staying at this Hostal, on their way to the Northern Hemisphere for work.

All the Best

Fred and Hazel


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