Saturday, January 23, 2010

Faces of the Altiplano

Each picture plays a part in my Amizade Adventure here in the high country of Bolivia along Lake Titicaca near the border with Peru. I know regardless what I say, the true message of this post is in the faces of the people.
The top picture is dedicated to Dawn Emerson, my art teacher and friend, who last year saw the power of a toy, and especially to Tapirgal, of Astoria Oregon Daily Photo for her continuous support and understanding. It shows a mother and children holding animal-themed flashlights I brought as gifts from Tapir and Friends Animal Store for lovely children around the world. This family was the first to let me into their lives. The father, a fisherman, not pictured here, is behind the wall hand carving a new boat, which can be seen behind the mother's elbow.
The second picture is the children's aunt. She and three other ladies were sitting in front of the house and were doing beadwork. At first they waved me off when I gestured if I could take their pictures. Finally they allowed me to approach. After taking shots of the boat, the boat builder and the house, then the children arrived. In miserable Spanish, I conversed with them and finally I was able to take pictures of the lady above and then the rest of them at work. Perhaps, I'll share these photos at a later date.
The last picture is, of one of the most famous residents along the lake. His name is Paulino Estaban, and he and his sons constructed in 1970 the Ra II for Thor Heyerdahl, the Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer of Kon Tiki fame. An amazing working replica is tied up in the water to the left of this scene. It is a large sailing boat made entirely of reeds, exactly like the one Heyerdahl used to sail from Morroco to Barbados to prove once again that South Americans had the know-how to sail to Polynesia, and that the Egyptians could have built similar ones to voyage to the Americas. This fact is important to Mormons, who have heavily evangelized Bolivia, that the lost tribe had the ability to travel to and settle in North America. This man's son, also a master of the ancient art of boat building using only reeds, took me in his motorboat out onto the lake to some islands for an incredible day, which I hope to share shortly.
I am having trouble accessing blogger and making comments on city daily photos, so it has been difficult to follow your own posts. I may not be commenting often, but I certainly am there in spirit, and will try to read older posts when I can.


  1. What a wonderful and worthwhile journey you are taking! I love your pictures and do so enjoy reading about your interaction with the people there! I hold good thoughts for you, Lee! Have a great weekend!


  2. Beautiful Lee. And Kon Tiki is so evocative. Magical post.

  3. These are great! Portraits are one of your strong points, and certainly one of your joys. I love seeing them.

  4. After reading this post, I realized I knew practically nothing about Kon Tiki or Thor Heyerdahl. The names weren't totally unfamiliar, but I've never read the book Kon Tiki or seen the movie. In a belated attempt to play catch-up, I've just spent the last hour reading about Thor Heyerdahl in Wikipedia.

    So now I'm feeling even more deprived, because I didn't know about this amazing man during his lifetime. A true larger-than-life romantic...a legend in his own time. Damn, I wish I had known about him a long time ago. But as I've been known to say about a lot of things, better late than never.

    The part about Thor Heyerdahl wasn't the first thing about your post that caught my attention, though. Coincidentally, I finished the first piece of beadwork I've done in about five years right before I read it this morning. Did you by any chance get any pictures of the beadwork those ladies in the second picture were doing? I hope you'll post a close-up if you did, because I'd love to see what Bolivian beadwork looks like.