Another beautiful day. Chilly morning, everyone used the blankets on the bus until it warmed up outside. I just covered my legs.
Today we set the bags that were going into storage out at 7:00, but not before I retrieved the pharmacy from my suitcase. Jean developed a cold last night and needed medication. She placed the pharmacy in her carryon which was going with us on the bus.
Then we went down to the breakfast buffet. We sat with Bruce and listened to his praises of the clinic Marilou is in and the doctors and staff who are giving her so much attention. Then he ranted about having to pay out of pocket for the flights back home, and not having the travel insurance number. He then mentioned that the clinic had a small Alexander Coffee of which he took advantage.
I then left Jean with Bruce while I returned to the room to retrieve my stuff and went down to the lobby. I wanted to upload two more blogs while I could. I did not have time to download the Star Ledger. God only knows (song cue; thank you Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys) when there will be reliable internet again.
Juan, our bus driver, had his work cut out for him today. There was heavy Monday morning traffic, including the students returning to school. I saw two soldiers drive by in the other direction on a motorcycle, the one on the back holding a carbine. We also saw a couple of people dressed like zebras directing traffic. They help the policia at the major heavy traffic intersections. It is total organized chaos.
Side note: At 5'7", I am tall next to most Bolivians, especially the ladies.
It was slow going leaving La Paz as we headed up to the upper city of El Alto, near the airport. We saw on the way uphill the Red Line Gondalas we used yesterday. And once in El Alto, we passed the Blue Line outer terminus. The ride to Copacabana on the shores of Lake Titicaca was not smooth. El Alto went on forever. We passed a lot of new construction of houses. And even more construction of the road we were on. It was paved/unpaved/move lanes to the other side, etc. A rough ride.
The houses reminds me of SE Asia. The owner lives on the upper floor, there are stores on the street level, and the owner rents the other apartments. Many buildings have the same brick face, but some are beginning to cover the brick face with more color. El Alto is a much newer city and has expanded outwards tremendously.
At our first rest stop, which was on the border of the city, was at a gas station. Many tourist buses were stopped here. The toilets (banos) were stinky, no seat on the toilets, etc. Unfortunately, it was the best place available for tour buses.
After the rest stop, we lost the construction, and it became a nice four lane highway. Juan picked up the pace to make up for lost time. Outside the city it was farms and wide open land. We passed through a couple of small villages along the way. After a while, the road went down to two lanes.
One of the villages had a museum where we stopped. It was the Kon-Tiki Musseo de Balsas. It was originally owned by Paulino Esteban. He passed away last year. Paulino, an Aymara indian, worked with Thor Heyerdahl to build Ra II, which sailed in 1970 from Morocco to Barbados. He also built other reed boats for other expeditions. Look him up on the internet, there is a lot of information about him available. Now his son, Porfirio, runs the business.
Porfirio showed us first how he makes the rope/cord tying the reeds together, which takes two days. Then he showed us on an existing small boat, how you tighten the rope around the reed cores. First you pound the sides with a stone to remove any air and then tighten the cord, and repeat. Then we saw him demonstarte how to atart a core by first using the thinner reeds and build out using the thicker reeds. Then we went into the gift shop. Jean bought a small llama.
The countryside was now very hilly & rocky. We stopped at a viewpoint for pictures of Lake Titicaca, and moved on down the road. We then got to San Pedro de Tiquina where we disembarked from the bus, all except Juan and Lily. Juan drove the bus onto a wodden barge to cross the Strait of Tiquina over to San Pablo de Tiquina (which is part of Lake Titicaca). We crossed on a public motorboat, which was only 10 minutes and was a fun ride. On shore, there was a statue of an Inca ruler. We had Wendy take a group shot of us in front of the statue. After the bus finally docked and rolled off the barge, we hopped back on for an hour trip to our hotel.
We were now on a peninsula. On the ride, Wendy handed back our supper note from the welcome dinner. Now we had to chose our entree for tonight's dinner. The choices were beef, llama with mustard sauce, chicken, trout, or vegetarian lasagna. I chose the llama (how often does that appear on the menu?). And Jean chose the beef entree. She would of had the llama, but she doesn't like mustard.
We made one last stop at a viewpoint overlooking the town of Copacabana and the lake. Then we descended into Copacabana to our hotel, the Hotel Rosario Lago Titicaca. We disembarked and waited in the lobby. It was now 1:00. We would take a walk of the village at 3:30. Lunch was on your own.
We went to our really nice looking and nicely laid out room. mWish we could spend another night. Since we had some time, we went to the hotel restaurant and order two sodas and a small vegetarian personal pizza to share. (What? Pizza two days in a row?). It was more than enough for us to tied us over to dinner which will be at 6:30.
We met in the lobby at 3:30, all except Lily. We walked up the streets of the village. it was very quiet and hardly anyone in the streets. We then went up to the Basilica de Nuestra Senora de Copacabana. Here we found mucho people milling around. We stood outside in the courtyard while Wendy explained the history of the various religions and customs. Then she told us that people make pilgrimages to this bascilia to pay honor to La Virgen de la Candelaria. We then entered the bascilia, no pictures inside. Wendy explained the pictures and statues at on the altar walls. We saw pictographs showing how the lady arrived at this location in a side room. Then we saw a room full of Virgin statues from around Bolivia and the world.
We left by the side door and entered the building across the street. Weny bought a pack of colored candles. Jean drew the yellow candle which represents money. I had the green candle which represents work. We all then lit our candles, and melted the bottom of the candle to allow it to stand up.
We returned to the basilica courtyard for a picture opportunity. At the gate where we exited, there were trucks and cars decorated with flowers. Wendy explained that they are waiting to have their cars/trucks blessed by the priest for good luck. The Bolivians in the area are very superstitious. This goes on 365 days a year. We then tried the post office to acquire some stamps, but alas, it was closed.
We were done with the walk and were now on our own. Jean, Kippy and I walked down the street past the shops, retaurants and people hawking bus trips. We stopped at the shoreline. We then made a left and walked along the shoreline for two blocks and then returned to the hotel. Jean and I rested until time for dinner. Right before dinner was sundown over the lake, so I opened the balcony door and took copious pictures as the sun was setting.
Then we had an enjoyable dinner with good company and good food. We sat across from Margie and Richard and talked about Texas and other destinations. The llama was just like beef. Hard to get a definitive taste since it was smothered in the mustard sauce. I liked it. The rest of the meal was also good. We then returned to the room. Jean watched TV, I wrote today's blog entry.