Saturday, May 21, 2011

Mas en La Paz

Hola amigos! It’s been a packed day full of adventure! Since we won’t be able to meet up with Luc (our contact who’s going to drive us to Asankiri) until Sunday night, we decided to get out of La Paz for a day trip and check out the nearby ruins of Tiwanaku. We arrived at the bus stop a little early, so we adventured into the surrounding cemetery district. While sounding ominous and gloomy, the district was a pleasant surprise, perched on a hilltop with wonderful view of the city, as well as a quaint flower market and simple, yet elegant Catholic church.

Once our departure time hit, we crammed into a microbus and were off towards Tiwanaku. The bus ride out of La Paz offered even more astonishing views of the city. On the hour-long ride we made friends with some Brazilians and Argentinians sharing the cramped seats with us and got a good dose of the countryside with the soaring Andes mountains in the background.

Upon arrival at Tiwanaku, we explored the archaeological sites and museums. The city was founded before the Incan and subsequent Spanish conquests of the area, reaching its estimated peak population of 60,000 people around . Now, the site is primarily large, flat stone-bordered ceremonial grounds, scattered with the occasional statue or arch. While checking everything out, we had a friendly volunteer tour guide tell us the history of the area, and eventually ask Sara Monti out to lunch. Unfortunately, we had to decline the offer, and sought lunch on our own. After a light late-afternoon lunch of sandwiches and omelettes, we headed back to La Paz.

This evening, La Paz held a special event downtown, opening up all of the city’s museums for free and filling the streets with local musicians, dancers, and small vendors, creating a festival of Bolivian culture. We went to a quirky local pub and had a pizza for dinner, with 80’s American pop resonating from the bar, Charlie Chaplin silent movie soundtracks coming from a TV nearby, and Bolivian indigenous music echoing down the streets outside. Quite the assault on the ears. After dinner, we hit the streets, drinking in the culture and character of the city at its finest. We strolled through the outdoor markets, viewed local art exhibits, and maneuvered our way shoulder-to-shoulder through crowds of Bolivianos. Ending the evening on a high note, we enjoyed a local folk band rocking out in a crowded plaza, complete with multiple pan flutes, charangas (a kind of small guitar/mandolin hybrid that is a steadfast in Bolivian music), and dancing men in zebra costumes (which we’re still not entirely sure about). Completely pooped, we danced our way back to the hostel and look forward to our trip to Cochabamba tomorrow.

Adios! -Andrew, Ben, and the Saras

PS: Since we’re headed to our project site in Asanquiri early Monday and will spend the week day, we won’t be able to make any additional blog posts during the weekdays. Since our blogging host allows us to change the dates on post, we will make a daily post on Ben’s laptop, and then at the end of the week upload them with the corresponding post dates.

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