Posted by: jimndianne | April 27, 2010

On Waiheke Island, Auckland, New Zealand.

Hi folks!  Almost three months have elapsed since the two adventurers arrived in New Zealand. During that period we have alternated betw188een staying in an animal-friendly motel and bunking down in Devonport, in order to enjoy the company of our gorgeous younger daughter and her good-looking spouse!  We must wait a little before we can catch up with daughter No. 1, who mostly resides in London. A family illness also necessitated a five-day visit to relatives down near Wellington where we all took daily hour-long walks along the banks of a pleasant, nearby river. It was so nice to be back in our home country once more and noting the scenery was more spectacular than we both remembered.

In early February we flew to Australia in order to have a sort-out of our possessions which are in a storage facility on the Gold Coast. A professional re-pack of it all was  necessary in order for it to be covered by insurance during its shipment overseas. We were fortunate in that while there, we were able to re-visit good friends on the Coast, involving some enjoyable dinners at local restaurants.  When a few sets of tennis at our local club was suggested, along with a South Pacific-themed meal on another evening, we happily participated and the wine ran freely! Thanks to Carolyn performing on her electronic piano, the group hummed and sang their way through some songs of old. Sadly, we said farewell to our many friends at the club but we know we’ll always see them again on our next visit.

Upon returning to Auckland two weeks later we 041were asked by friends if we’d house-sit for them for four weeks while they holidayed overseas and of course, being as free as birds, we hastily agreed! Their delightful home is on Waiheke Island, which lies in the Hauraki Gulf, some 50 minutes by swift ferry from Auckland city. Around 6,000 people reside here, many taking the ferry daily into Auckland City to work.

So now here we are, with the weather intermittently warm and sunny or blowing a gale and quite cool. while we take a long walk with our dog down the road to the beach.

Onetangi Beach is just stunning, almost two kilometers of soft, white sand so by the 195time we have walked it one way, walked back along  it and then retraced our steps up the hill to the house we are somewhat tired, to say the least. Here is a photo of the beach taken from a hillside point – just lovely!

Recently the annual Onetangi Beach Races were held here and it was estimated there were around 5,000 people in attendance on  the day. It is quite an unusual event, there being tractor races, horse races, horse & sulky races, running races, wheelbarrow races and even a waiters’ race, all held on

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the beach. There are also ‘Sealegs’ races, a boat with wheels which can drive into the sea, retract its wheels while on the water, round two buoys then return to the beach with wheels down in order to race along the sand to the finish line! 182

Stalls are set up providing great eats like  grilled prawn skewers and sausage sizzles, among other tasty items. Being a ‘day at the races’ the public are invited to compete in the Mad Hatters and Fashions in the Field event, where mainly the female breed each try to outdo the other competitors by wearing the most unusual outfits!

We continue to revel in the tranquility of this delightful island, while at the same time checking out the possibility of purchasing a small cottage which we could use as a base during visits back to New Zealand in the future. More on this in the next post!

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Posted by: jimndianne | January 15, 2010

Pre-Inca Ruins at Tiwanaku

5 January 2010 La Paz

With our holiday here fast drawing to a close, we had one final trip planned which was to visit the pre-Inca ruins at Tiwanaku. They are situated very close to Lake Titicaca which we visited  the previous week so the trip there was very much a repeat of the scenery we had already come across.

The civilization that eventually became the Tiahuanaco (also spelt as Tiwanaku) people is believed to have dawned around 600BC. Construction on their great city and ceremonial site began around 700AD and flourished for several centuries.

At its height, the city was home to 20,000 inhabitants and covered 2.6 sq km. By 1200AD, the Tiwanaku people had faded into obscurity, but its culture lived on through its strong religious influence on the Incas.

The ruins were spread over a wide area and whilst the museum was very well presented, the ruins we felt were in an early stage of excavation and a lot more work would be required to bring them up to a more interesting level.

Below is the Kalasasaya Temple , a ritual platform 130m x 120m with walls made of huge blocks of red sandstone. Many broken pieces of stone litter the top platform.

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This is the Sunkan Temple with many faces protruding from the walls.

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Adjacent the main ruins is another area called Puma Punku with some more modern figures!

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The picture on the left is one of many Megalithic statues around the site. On the right is the Portal of the Sun constructed of a single block of andesite estimated to weigh at least 44 tons. The markings on the front are associated in some way with the sun and perhaps used as a calendar.

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Had a farewell dinner out at “The Cave”, a great restaurant serving international cuisine from Thai Green Curries to Chicken Cordon Bleu, with some nice red wine and the good company of our hosts, Gaby and Gerhard. They have shown us all the best features of La Paz and its surroundings and we are grateful to them for that.

Tomorrow we fly out early heading back to New Zealand, via Santiago, Chile, so this is our final post of the trip. We’ve had the most awesome journey, meeting great indigenous folk along the way and seeing many new sights and sounds. We’d just like to thank all of our friends and family who’ve followed us along on this journey and we hope to catch up with many of you before too long.

So all we have to do now is make a decision based on our ‘findings’ as to where we will be living in the future. Watch this space!!!

Jim and Di

Posted by: jimndianne | January 15, 2010

The last days in La Paz

28 December 09 – 4 January 2010 La Paz

Spent an entire afternoon out on “electronics street” hunting for a new camera to replace the one accidentally dropped from the car window whilst taking a ‘must have’ shot. While it still worked, the camera screen had a large distorted crack across it and one could not see a thing through it and therefore made it a very much hit and miss process! Managed to find a new Panasonic model which would suit our purposes nicely and at the right price.

Next morning spent some time doing a few posts for the blog, which had got rather behind due to all of our touristic and social activities. The same afternoon, Gaby convinced me to try out her hairdresser as I was complaining how long and unmanageable my hair had become! So after having my hair colour done, as well as a manicure whilst the colour was taking, Willy, the owner, then gave me a great haircut and blow dry – all this for the amazing price of $A23.00. No complaints there!

Wednesday 30th January saw us waiting bright and early at the bus stop for the ‘Hop on, Hop off’ Zona Sur (south zone) double decker tourist bus.  Sitting right up on the top level  gave  us a great view as we trundled down the steep hills from La Paz, all the while

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hearing an audio presentation in English about local landmarks (also done in five other languages). The big thing to watch out for was the overhead power lines which dangled dangerously near our heads! No wonder they made a point of telling us not to stand up while taking photographs. The best part of the trip was to the Vallee of La Luna, (Valley of the Moon) where we alighted for around twenty minutes in order to

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walk in and around the amazing rock formations of this area, which looked for all the world just as you might imagine could be found upon the moon. From this vantage point one could also see the famous La Paz golf course which is at the highest altitude in the world, just under 4,000 metres, mentioned in an earlier post. The 1 3/4hr tour, including around the town of La Miguel, cost us 50 Bolivianos each, or $7.

After the tour finished, we walked a short distance to meet Gaby & Gerhard at the German Embassy, where pre New Year champagne was being poured before the Embassy closed for four days!

On New Years Eve our hosts had arranged a party for around twenty of their friends and colleagues, so Gaby and I spent some time preparing food for the guests. The party was a great success culminating with Michael, a Dutchman, letting off a large number of noisy, whistling and whooping fireworks in the garden to welcome in the year 2010! From the patio area, we also had the best view of every firework being sent up from the entire city of La Paz and its surrounds. Some music and dancing followed the fireworks before the guests slowly took their leave and went off home to bed.

The 1st January 2010 was spent quietly recovering at home, but on the following day, 2nd, Gerhard decided to drive us to have a look at some amazing scenery up a very steep road at the rear of their housing area. Before long, we were passing through some picturesque mountain villages, then a lovely old church and cemetery high up amongst some pinnacles of rock, looking for all the world like organ pipes in a cathedral. In the distance, the snowy peak of Mt Illimani was almost

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clear of the ever present clouds. We were on our way to a beautiful river canyon winding down, ever down through little hamlets where donkeys brayed at the roadside

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and village dogs rushed out barking to welcome us as kittens fled to the safety of mud houses. By the time we reached the river canyon it was obvious we could not easily travel further as there were huge boulders beside the river blocking our way.

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Time to turn around and retrace our steps, taking photographs all the way to remind us of this delightful piece of Bolivia. One puncture on the way back necessitated a stop to change a tyre that had been slashed by a rock. Oops!

Sunday morning, 3rd, Gaby decided to take us to a place we hadn’t yet seen, that of “tourist street” as it was known. Here of course could be found the biggest range of

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locally made gifts we’d ever seen, including hand or machine woven tablecloths and clothing items, pottery, handicrafts, jewellery and even the dead fetuses of alpacas, which are said to bring good luck when buried under a newly built home! We also paid

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a visit to the Coca Museum, spending a good amount of time there as it gave an excellent history of the Cocaine industry worldwide. Electrical and telephone cables always offer a challenge in different countries and Bolivia is no exception! Banks of meters complete the picture.

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Many tours were being advertised along the street including trips to the pre-Inca ruins, white water rafting and the famous death road. We didn’t make it to this road which is about 1 1/2 hours drive from La Paz. This road generally had on average 26 serious accidenst per year with vehicles going over the edge. In some places it has a free fall of up to 600 metres. The terrain at the bottom of the ravine is so inaccessible that anyone going over the edge will not be rescued. Today there is a much safer route on the other side of the ravine and the death road is now open to pedestrians and cyclists wanting a 45km thrill speeding down the road!!

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On Monday 4th January we again took the ‘Hop on, Hop Off’ bus tour but this time it was the Downtown Tour. Although we thought we’d already seen most of the La Paz downtown area we were pleasantly surprised to be taken to many venues new to us, including the wonderful Killikilli Lookout, which gave 360deg. views from a great height! Many other museums and galleries were pointed out along the journey as well as the fairground area and large stadium featuring names and faces of a huge number of well known celebrities recently painted upon its exterior wall.

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Posted by: jimndianne | January 10, 2010

Lake Titicaca

27 December 2009 – Bolivia

Lake Titicaca, (meaning Grey Puma), is situated on the border of Peru and Bolivia. It is at an elevation of 3812 metres above sea level, 194 km long, 65 km wide and a max depth of 356m. To give you an idea of its size, there are over 25 rivers which flow into it and only one which exits from it, the Rio Desaguadero. The larger portion of the lake is in Peru, however the part in Bolivia is still a vast body of water. For this day trip to the lake we had Gaby as our driver as Gerhard had other commitments back at the house. Climbing up out of the ‘crater’ area of La Paz once again and manoeuvring our way through the market town of El Alto at the top edge we

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we soon found ourselves out in open country. The first photo is of a typical shop with huge bags of popcorn for sale! The next shows typical vendors coming up to the car, ever hopeful of a sale while stopped at traffic lights. The scenery on the Alto Plano (meaning high plains) was of very flat dry plains with a backdrop of snow crusted mountains. We passed lots of livestock including fat pigs, cows sheep, donkeys and many beautiful llamas.

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Sunday appeared to be washing day as whenever we  came to a river, clothes, cars and bodies were being given a thorough wash. The bright colours of their clothes really stood out on the stone river banks, where they lay drying.

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We noticed numerous churches of a similar design. There is a German priest in the area who is determined to build 90 of these structures and judging by the numbers we had seen so far he is well on the way to achieving his goal!

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Stopping at some of the small villages allowed for some great photographic opportunities including a soccer game which included the indigenous Cholita women playing in their long skirts – though they had removed their derby hats. Maybe the challenge of keeping them on whilst running would prove to be too great.

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Most small towns have their village squares which usually has a monument or two and of course, small children playing or being with their mums.

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At last, after about 1 1/2 hours of driving, we caught our first glimpse of Lake Titicaca across the tundra. We soon came to a small settlement on the edge of the lake and what a treat that was. Here was a boat yard with a difference! The papyrus reed boat which Thor Heyerdahl built in Egypt (named Ra after the Egyptian Sun God), was made out of the same reeds seen here.

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These reeds grow in abundance at the edge of the lake – we even found a friendly llama!

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The boats they were making were fairly substantial and were of a catamaran style connected with a timber planked floor and seats along each side.

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The reeds were about 3-4mm in diameter and tightly packed together and often the prow had a fierce face, no doubt to scare off the ‘evil’ spirits!

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Watching one of the cholitas weave a piece of fabric on her loom outside was fascinating! She even took me across to where her petticoats were drying and insisted upon showing me her own five frilly petticoats plus two plain cotton ones under that!

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There was some spectacular scenery viewed from high above the lake of its many bays and inlets. We had a splendid lunch of grilled trout (or chicken) and salad with chips, at a pleasant cafe overlooking the lake – total cost for the three of us, including beers, less than $12. A possibly 11 year old boy acted as waiter and did an excellent job!

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Our turning around point was here at San Pablo de Tiquina, where there were many small car ferries waiting to cross the small stretch of lake over to the Peruvian side. We could have taken a trip across and thus be in Peru but were told there was heaps of paperwork to fill in and many difficulties to endure so was not worth the effort for such short time that we had.  There were also many cars decorated with floral bouquets showing they have had them blessed by a priest to keep their occupants safe.

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A view down the lake showing just how endless it appears! It is the highest navigable lake in the world! The lake originally was at sea level and salt water. Over the many thousands of years the geographical nature of the land had changed and risen at times almost 1 cm per year. It is now 3812 metres above sea level and fresh water.

Originally the land mass of Bolivia extended to the coastline giving them access to the sea. However, during a war with Chile, both Peru and Bolivia lost land and today Bolivia no longer has a coastline. The monument below (right) retells how the Bolivians fought against Chile. They retain the hope of one day regaining the land stolen by Chile. The most important fact of this is that Bolivia lost their valuable access to the coastline and thus the sea.

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On our way back to La Paz, we were delighted to come across a musical procession of indigenous folk from a small village, assuming it was some kind of post-Christmas celebration.  What a truly wonderful day we had here at Lake Titicaca.

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Posted by: jimndianne | January 3, 2010

La Paz – On The Rise

26 December 2009 La Paz

Another bright and sunny day, time to take the dog for a walk! Paula (the dog) came  originally from Kazakhstan and is a huge sheep dog. Gert and Gaby have had her as

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a puppy since their days in Tashkent and she is now 11 years old and a very lovable dog living a life of luxury. Just look at her bed! Going for a walk means we all pile into the Mitsubishi 4WD and take off up the hills at the back of their house. The two small peaks you can see in the photo below are called the ‘Devils Molars’ and we headed off in that direction. The road proved to be a very narrow dirt road which was steep and washed away every now and again leaving huge ruts.

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The view down was amazing with very strange rock formations. Once up near the top it levelled out and there we found a small village.  Rather a hard life by all accounts as access for them would not be easy.

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They are probably more or less self sufficient by growing their own vegetables and raising their livestock. Ploughing the land is done by the traditional method using cow power. Their houses are made from mud bricks. The one on the left looks as though it has a large crack running from top to bottom.

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The rock formations up there were something else and also some strange creatures could be seen prancing around!

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Descending the hill, which was just as nerve wracking as going up, we took a look at a new suburb with some substantial houses. Homes here tend to take up the whole site leaving very little garden. No, we are not considering La Paz as a place to take up residence thank you – just visiting – although life here would not be all that bad and is very very inexpensive!

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A great number of the roads are stone paving (like cobble stones) which lends itself to a rough and noisy ride at times. It is all hand laid and very labour intensive.

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Next port of call was another suburb south of the above which gave us a different view of La Paz with more unusual rock formations looking like something on the moon and also a glimpse of the full 18 hole La Paz Golf Course. The golf course is the green strip in the right hand photo and has the distinction of being the course at the highest elevation in the world.

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It does have another interesting factor in that being at an altitude of 10,800 feet, where the air is a little thinner, the ball will go further for the same weight of stroke than it would at sea level! How about that all of you golfers out there!

Three children take part in a training session at La Paz Golf Club

We ended the day out at a very nice German restaurant with Gaby and Gert where the food and wine was excellent.

Posted by: jimndianne | January 1, 2010

La Paz – Christmas Day

25 December 2009 – La Paz, Bolivia

We were late rising, which seemed fair enough as we did have a fairly late night! A solid breakfast was in order and off we went to explore the downtown of La Paz. First stop was one of the main La Paz squares, Murillo. The scene was very interesting as the Bolivian authorities had bussed in many indigenous families from Potosi, who were there to raise some money from basic goods they had been given to sell i.e. chewing gum, sweets etc. The scene in this square was extraordinary with all different vendors there ranging from candy floss (that great stack of pink stuff on a pole), ice creams to fabrics, etc.  Also there were the shoe shine guys who along with the street sweepers, wear masks as they are embarrassed about the work they do and don’t want to be

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recognised. The ice-cream seemed to be a stiff cream rather than that which we would be used to. This scene also gave us a real introduction to the cholita women from the Aymara cultural group of highlanders and descendants of the Tiahuanaco empire, who live in town and wear  traditional dress as well as these derby hats.

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How they keep them on is a real puzzle! Rumour has it that around 1920 an Englishman arrived in La Paz with a whole stack of these hats expecting to sell them to the local males. The men didn’t like them so he put them in a woman’s hat shop and they sold like hot cakes. It is a great balancing act as they seem far too small for the size of their heads! The women look a lot bigger than they are as they are wearing up to five petticoats.

From there we drove around looking at some well preserved buildings and some amazing views up the narrow streets.

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One particular narrow street was for pedestrians only and contained some of the oldest buildings in La Paz. The picture on the right has Gert pretending to be a local.

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Climbing back up to the ‘rim of the crater’ and looking back down at the city never fails to make you gasp as the city looks so far away. This is ‘you know who’ below with Gaby and Gert. We are at 4050 metres here and doing anything in the way of climbing makes you puff. We are gradually getting used to the altitude and because we were  up in the mountains of Ecuador for a number of weeks we have acclimatised to this new altitude reasonably well.

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The photo on the right is taken from the same spot and is of a cemetery. Looks more like factories at this distance but is in fact lots of multi coloured crypts. We will attempt to get a closer shot of a typical one at some time. From here we went down to a park which displayed many faces of men who had disappeared over the years and had never been seen since. At the same park were a group of the indigenous families that had come to La Paz and were waiting for their Christmas food hand-out.

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This finished our downtown tour which had proved to be very interesting. Weather was fine all day and sat at 17 – 23 C most of the time. There is a difference of 10deg C generally between the city and up at the top where the above views were taken.

Posted by: jimndianne | January 1, 2010

La Paz – Christmas Eve

24 December 2009 La Paz, Bolivia

It’s time for Jim to write… We woke up much refreshed after our gruelling past two days ready to take on what ever La Paz 001had to offer. Our friends’ house (pictured) is in the south zone of La Paz, slightly lower  than the other areas. If you can imagine travelling over a flat landscape at an altitude of over 4000 metres and you come across a gigantic crater of approximately 8-10km in diameter and about 1000m deep then you will have found La Paz!! A great deal of the floor of the ‘crater’ has already been built on either by the commercial region or with housing.

The area we are staying in is San Miguel, on the south side, and as it was the day 

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before Christmas, off we went shopping. The prices of goods were very reasonable, especially foodstuffs, and this was really brought to our notice.  A good bottle of red, we found for US$3.80, which was a local brew. Plenty of other reasonably priced wines from Argentina, Chile and Peru.

That night we were invited to a Christmas Eve dinner just down the road at an expat couple’s place which proved to be very interesting. Talk about a race of nations it was all on! The host was a Dane, the hostess was Dutch and the other guests were from Germany, Norway, England, USA and of course, us, from NZ! They were all staff from various embassies. We were told prior to coming to the evening that each of us had to bring three presents, one we would want to give away, one we would really want to keep and one which was absolutely kitch! This was a real puzzle to us as well as to Gaby and Gert but all was about to be revealed!. After a very nice meal of roast turkey, pork  with all the trimmings and other yummy stuff, we settled down to this ‘game’. Well we had  to put all the presents under the tree and the rules were explained. A dice was produced and each of us threw it in turn. A ‘1’ thrown meant you missed a turn, ‘2’ the direction changed, ‘3’ you picked any parcel from under the tree, ‘4’ you swapped with someone else (they couldn’t refuse), ‘5’ you missed a turn and ‘6’ you stole a present from someone else. Got off to a good start but the host speeded it up by producing a second dice to rotate around the table as well as the first dice. Phew, that really threw us all into a tizz! Great fun and quite shambolic! Probably drank  too much then we walked home and off to bed. A great night was had by all!!

Posted by: jimndianne | December 29, 2009

We’re in La Paz, Bolivia

There are three new posts below this one. Without the internet we became a little behind but now, all systems are go and we are gradually getting back on track! The three new posts are “Nightmare Journey to La Paz”, “Quito City” and “Cotacachi again”

We’re safe & well here in Bolivia staying with our lovely friends Gabby & Gert since the 24th and we are absolutely having the adventure of a lifetime here in La Paz – you won’t believe the photos when you see them!

Our lack of correspondence has been due to a lightening storm on the first night that unfortunately knocked out the Internet at our friends’ house. So, until it’s back up we’re offline.

We do hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas day and you are all looking forward to ringing in the new year in a few days time!

Posted by: jimndianne | December 29, 2009

Nightmare Journey to La Paz!

22 – 23 December 2009 Ecuador to Bolivia

Our next adventure began early on 22nd December when we arrived at 6.45am at the Quito Airport via hotel shuttle. Once in front of the check-in counter for Lan Chile airlines, we were soon told that our allowance for travel was only one 23kg bag per person and not two at 23kg as we had been previously advised. We hastily presented our itineraries, showing that we were on around-the-world tickets, only to be told that the rules had changed in September and we could now only have two bags between us. Thus we would have to pay excess baggage. After we pleaded with her, however, she relented somewhat and made a call to her supervisor, who quickly turned up, glanced over our tickets and itineraries and told the check-in girl it was o.k., we could check in our three bags at no cost.

By 8.45am, when our flight was due to depart for Lima, Peru, en route to La Paz, Bolivia, the aeroplane had not even arrived in Quito due to heavy fog all around the area. As time went by we realised that by leaving late we would miss our connection to La Paz. The plane finally arrived and we  departed Quito at 10.30am, wondering

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how we were now going to get to La Paz. Upon arrival in Lima, however, at midday, all passengers were shunted together and given passes to one of the VIP lounges,

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where we whiled away nine hours eating and using our computers until 9pm when we were told we would now be going to Santiago, Chile, 3 1/2 hrs south (!). Crazy!! Those passengers whose destination was actually Chile were very happy but the rest of us thought the whole thing was becoming a nightmare!

We finally arrived in Santiago at 2.30am, (including 2 hrs time change) were told we’d be taken to a hotel but that it was quite far away. The idea was quite insane considering we’d need to return to the airport by 4am for the 6a.m. flight north again to La Paz, via another stop at Iquique! Although we tried lying down on the hard seats, sleep was impossible for most of the around twenty stranded passengers. We had managed, luckily, to send an email to our friends in La Paz informing them of our plight and  they’d told us to just catch a taxi to their Embassy upon leaving the airport.

Our bags had fortunately managed to travel with us (although the newly purchased suitcase had its lock damaged). Driving from the airport through El Alto came as rather a shock as the area was extremely poor with unfinished roads, many roving packs of wild dogs and now and then the sight of a dirty bundle, someone lying beside the road sleeping. However, as we drove out of El Alto (an elevation of 4050m), suddenly the road dropped over the edge of a very steep hillside and we were greeted with the most amazing  sight of a huge urban and city sprawl for as far

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and as wide as we could see, some 1000m below us.. The entire city area was within a vast gorge totally ringed by mountains, whose pinnacles of rock were in numerous colours of red, pink, brown and black! It was truly the most astounding sight we had ever seen in our lives!

We arrived at the Embassy, where Gaby and Gerd met us very warmly and Gaby bundled us into their car for the 20 minute drive to their home, high up in the hills on the opposite side of the city. Once there, we realised just how exhausted we were and although it was then about 10.30am we just tumbled into bed for a well-needed sleep!

It was 23rd December and the Embassy was closing early so our friends arrived back home early afternoon. After a few hours of sleep we felt refreshed and were able to get up and have a good conversation with them, our first face to face for seven years! We had lost a day of our time with them due to the delays etc but we still had nearly two weeks ahead of us here in La Paz, Bolivia, time to explore this incredibly unusual landscape.

Posted by: jimndianne | December 28, 2009

Quito city.

21 December 2009 Ecuador

Took a good long walk today with Peter and Annie through a huge central park area of Quito to a large multi-storied shopping centre, “Le Jardin”. Just wandered around

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not looking for anything in particular. Found an enormous food hall on the top floor and had some lunch there.  Continued on our walk looking for a textile shop we’d visited on our last trip into Quito but still without success after some time. Finally hailed a taxi by which time we were within a couple of blocks of the shop! Annie purchased a two lovely ponchos and I found a nice casual bag in similar colours to my own poncho.

So while Annie and Peter decided to go on back to the hotel ahead of us we took a taxi to a nearby department store where we managed to purchase an additional suitcase. This was for all of the extra bits and pieces we’d gathered on the trip and at a good price. One last thing we needed to double-check was whether we could indeed take on board Lan Chile airlines the two suitcases each (46kg total) we’d been told that we were allowed to check in. The Lan Chile office personnel told us that this was indeed the case so with relief we returned to the Sheraton. Our day ended with a final meal out for the four of us at a great little Italian restaurant close by the hotel, a pleasant change after all of the fairly plain Ecuadorian food we’d been eating for the past two weeks. Knowing that we had to be at the airport early, we said our goodbyes to Annie and Peter, vowing to keep in touch and meet up again one day!

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So having now completed our four country investigation, this next country would be all vacation. We still have to decide on where we will eventually settle, but that is another day!

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