Lake Titicaca, and other observations
Today I had my first travel planning snafu. The train only leaves
from Orouo, Bolivia once a week for Uyuni, which is where I begin
a tour of the salt flats for 3 days. But Im one day early! I
thought the only train left today at 11 a.m. which is why I took a
12 hour bus ride to Orouo last night with only a 2 hour stop in La
Paz, the capital of Bolivia.
La Paz looks like Quito (or at least from the 2
hours I was there it does.) It is built in a valley between two steep,
snow-capped mountain ranges, and at the heart of the city is an old
colonial Spanish section, which is very pretty. Now I wished I spent
the day there instead of rushing here to find out the train doesnt
leave until tomorrow. (Dont worry I can take the bus today too
but the views on the train are supposed to be incredible) So now I
find myself in Orouo a city that is like Lowell...not much of a vacation
spot, and very few things to see or do...although since it is off
the beaten path the markets are very cheap...cab rides are $0.50 breakfast
today cost me $0.18 and my hotel last night was $3. So killing time
here is cheap, albeit boring.
And since the internet cafe here is also cheap, I can babble on a
little longer than I would normally.
Seans Peruvian Culinary Adventures
Part of the fun in traveling is tasting the local foods. In Peru Guinea
Pig, Alpaca (its like a llama), and mate
de coca are local specialties.
Here are my reviews:
Guinea Pig: tastes like chicken, but with more bones and not
much meat plus the skin is thicker. Oh and they leave the head on
it too so it gives you something to play with when your done with
dinner. I wont be going back for seconds.
Alpaca: tastes like beef...like really overcooked
tough beef. And overall it was OK. Not something to seek out, but if you
are in Peru, it's not a bad option it your tired of empanadas.
Mate de coca (coca tea): the coca leaf,
which is what cocaine is made from, is often used in tea and (supposedly)
helps with altitude sickness and energy. I tried it, (Im not
much of a tea fan usually), but I cant get enough of this stuff!
Its amazing, and you feel euphoric after drinking it. It increased
my energy, decreased my appetite, resulted in decreased birth weight
of my children...Oh wait that is the effects of cocaine...I just put
a lot of sugar in mine which surprisingly has the same effects of
cocaine, but without the need to sell my body on the streets. Seriously,
the tea is just tea and I think it helped with my cough, as would
Earl grey tea.
So, after two weeks in South America I have noticed a few things:
-The Atkins diet is not popular in the three countries I have visited.
Every meal comes with potato of some sorts, either fries, baked, mashed,
or chips, and/or rice.
-City planning: if there is a city of any size, you must locate the
highest point in the city, make it a park, and place a statue of the
virgin Mary, Christ, or the patron saint of the city on top of the
hill overlooking with city.
-Diversification: a concept that hasnt made it to the local
street market vendor. In every street market I have been to so far
there will be 10 to 20 stalls and every stall will offer the same
exact items. You would think someone would offer something different,
but they dont, its a wonder they can stay in business.
-Environmental issues are not valued. Trash is everywhere; the cars,
busses and trucks just pump out exhaust. Surprisingly it makes you
take pride in the EPA, DMV and other government agencies that regulate
and do cleanup. It doesn't really seem to bother any of the locals though.
-Hot water happy hour: in many hotels they only have hot water between
I call it hot water happy hour...or aqua clients
horas bueno in Spanish.
Speaking of Spanish, I have made up my own language mixing English,
Spanish, a little French, a touch of Italian, and charades to try
to communicate with the locals. So far its worked, but sometimes
I come up with ridiculous made up words that would confuse anyone
of any language.
-Lake Titicaca: The reason its famous is not for the floating
islands, but because of its name. I only took a few photos because
aside from the floating islands (the people take reeds and weave them
together to make a 3 foot thick floor that floats and they make it
large enough to build a couple of houses on) which is fascinating
for all of about 15 minutes, once the first big wave comes by and
the whole island rises and falls with the wave, then the excitement
is over. The people have solar panels, telephones, DVDs, etc, so now
the islands are just a tourist trap...its Sturbridge Village on water...and
when was the last time you went to Sturbridge Village?
Thats enough for now...Im going to
try to find some Bolivian lunch.
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