Wednesday, January 27, 2010

At Peace in La Paz

The day before yesterday, I sqeezed into a collectivo minivan with 18 other people, luggage on top, and made way to La Paz. I was dropped off on a side street somewhere on the hill seen in the last photo and flagged down a taxi. In my pitiful broken Spanish I asked the driver to take me to my hotel which I assumed was nearby. We were at a level even with this last picture's vantage point and it was only half way. Truthfully I had never been on such a ride. Like a car on an insane roller coaster, the cab rocketed down windy narrow cobblestone streets until we hit the bottom as seen in the third picture. The topography of 11,000 foot La Paz looks like a tiara, a valley, filled with buildings, surrounded by the steepest hillsides covered with houses and towered over and visible on a clear day by snow-covered 19,000 foot Mt. Illimani.
I found the streets noisy and crowded and to give you a sense of the divirgent growing population, I chose to share with you the not particulary interesting the second photo snapped in front of the Iglesia de San Francisco. The top picture of two older women was taken to the left of the second picture. You probably wonder about the hat worn by the lady on the left It is called a bombin and became popular in Bolivia in the 1920's. I have seen them worn predominently by middle aged and older women. It may be in vogue now and considered stylish, but have no idea how to ask or whether I should ask, and then again, I doubt that I would be able to understand the answer.
Tomorrow early, I leave for Cochabamba and begin my work at the orphanage. It is a seven hour bus ride and, let me assure you, its not Greyhound nor will I be the only person on the bus! I know I 'll be staying in a room in a house belonging to the director's mother. I doubt that I'll have the internet. This probably means that I'll be reaching you through an internet cafe that will hopefully allow me to upload photos. I still have so much I'd love to share.


  1. This is such an incredible adventure, Lee! I'm amazed, delighted and sometimes scared silly just reading about it! It is indeed like viewing a whole other world. I've traveled a great deal, but never to South America and even though I've had a number of friends from there, this is seeing it in a whole new light! Take care! Hope the bus ride isn't a nightmare -- one of mine in Mexico was!! I'll be holding good thoughts!


  2. Here's what I just posted on your Facebook page: Yeah, I like it! I like it that you got out of that damn taxi in one piece! (I bet you do too.)

    I had some other business on Facebook a few minutes ago, so I decided to post a comment there instead of here for a change.

    And there you were, sweating the small stuff like altitude sickness, never realizing you'd be taking your life in your hands getting into a taxicab in La Paz! Please let us know how you survived that seven hour bus ride to Cochabamba as soon as you can afterwards. Like Sylvia I'm hoping it won't be too much of a nightmare, but what you said about that taxi ride isn't exactly encouraging.

  3. Your eyes and your lens are a treasure. The last photo is amazing.
    Hope all goes well on the trip.

  4. Amazing photos! I'm intrigued by the sheer number of dwellings in your last photograph. It really gives a sense of how many people there must be.

    Good luck on the bus, dear friend. Look forward to your next installment.

  5. Oh my Lee!!! Most of the pics one see of Peru the people are wearing the little pork-pie hat.

    What an amazing ride--just like in the movieI hope the area you are in hasn't been troubled by the weather--flooding and slides. It seemed to be by the lake you just left.

    Let us know how the ride to orphanage goes. Take a pillow to sit on. LOL

    The hillside pic is amazing. MB


  6. Grand photos - priceless description. You so amaze me - going to an orphanage in the remote mountains. Inspirational.

  7. All three pix are really interesting for different reasons. I think I said before, keep 'em coming!