The known side effect of the malaira pills we´re taking (larium), is ´vivid dreams´. This manifests itself for different people in different ways. One woman we met described her dreams as ¨sexy¨. I, on the other hand, dreamed last night that Robyn wanted to use another man´s word-processor. I was greatly disturbed. I´m still searching for the meaning of this dream.
From Nazca, we went to Arequipa, which is a large colonial city relatively near Chile. It was very charming and featured a museum with ´the Ice Maiden' (Juanita), of recent National Geographic fame. Juanita was sacrificed and buried alive on the summit of a nearby 20k foot mountain. We were lucky to see her, because she had been touring the world since her discovery in 1995 until two weeks ago. She distinguishes herself from the five or so other sacrifical mummies archaeologists have found over the years because she is the only one that still has all of her internal organs intact.
From Arequipa we hopped across the border to La Paz, Bolivia. La Paz is an exciting, bustling city at 13,000 feet. Picture the terrain of San Francisco (hilly), covered with one lane cobblestone streets featuring two way traffic, one foot wide sidewalks, and every place where you might hope to step occupied with a squatting indigenous woman selling something. Just walking down the block was a project. We spent one exhausting day climbing all the hills in a vain attempt to peruse most of the major markets.
The next day we did an all day mountain bike trip on a road nicknamed 'El camino de muerte´(road of death). USAID has identified it as the ´most dangerous road in the world´. Just last week a truck with 22 people went off the side of it. Trusting the travel agencies and numerous other travellers who assured us that it was safer for bikes than trucks, we biked the entire route, starting at 14,000 feet and dropping to less than 3000 feet over 70km´s (all down hill!) -- Quite an adrenalin rush! Our guide said that local folklore claims that all the stray dogs in South America are reincarnated souls of people claimed by the roads. There were a lot of dogs.
Before we left, based on a recommedation from Renee, I also went to the City prison, which is a bit of a tourist attraction. Robyn sat this one out. The prison has no guards inside the gate, and the prisoners run everything inside, including ´tours´ for anyone who is interested. Everything inside can be bought for a price, and indeed it must be. When prisoners first arrive, they buy a room for $400-4000, with a corresponding difference in quality. One room we were in had a stereo, cable TV, and a video game consoul (sp?). If prisoners can´t afford a room, they sleep outside on the ground. The prison is divided into 7 sections, each organized around a court yard and each containing a store and various kinds of entertainment like a huge stereo, a TV area, pool tables or whatever. Wives visit during the day, but some children live with their fathers and go out to school each day.
From La Paz, we went to Copacabana, a Bolivian port town on Lake Titicaca. The town was charming and we took a boat to Ísla de Sol´ which legand claims is the birth site of the first Incas. We took the day to hike from one end of the island to the other. The island and lake were very beautiful and we worshipped it in our own way by taking frequent naps along the route at strategic vistas.
From Copacabana we crossed back into Peru and spent a night at the missable city of Puno, which is also on Lake Titicaca. Puno, however, was full of travellers and we had a fun night on the town. Also near Puno, we visited 'Inca Uyo', which is supposedly an Incan temple of fertility and features 60 large stone phalluses. The site is actually probably a hoax, or at least the phalluses are, but they provided for some great photo opportunities nonetheless. (Don´t miss the September edition of our website!).
From Puno, we travelled to Cusco, where we are now. Cusco is the traditional Inca capital and the departure point for Machu Pichhu. We´ve booked a guided 4 day hike along the 'Inca Trail' (which concludes at Macchu Pichhu), and will leave in a couple days. It has been good to hear from so many of you!
Take care! La Paz Party Cell