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Posts Tagged ‘Bolivia’

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La Paz, Bolivia is an awesome city. Being the most third world country in South America (mostly due to its being landlocked) means lots of people, cheap food, cheap beer, and awesome street vendors. The Witches Market is a street full of legit witches – selling their potions and motions and lotions… and other really weird stuff.

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We bought a statue from the witch doc to bring us good luck – and it was promptly opened, smashed into a gazillion pieces, and repackaged by Customs when we sent it home. Jerks.

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The strangest thing sold in the markets is llama fetuses. All shapes, colors, and sizes. The witches say you are supposed to bury one under your doorstep when you move into a new place to ward evil away from your home.

From Bolivia, we took a quick detour through Santiago, Chile before heading far south to the end of the world for some trekking through Patagonia’s most famous national park: Torres Del Paine.

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Walking along the giant salt fields in Salar de Uyuni is a strange experience – it looks, feels, and sounds like you are walking across ice – but tastes much better on your french fries than in your whiskey. Mostly its a cool photo op:

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Took a three day jeep tour through the Atacama desert in Southern Bolivia. The landscapes were pretty epic, so the pictures can do the talking…

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The jeep

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2000 square kilometers of nothing but salt.

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Jeep tour posse

IMG_6691Train Cemetery

SONY DSCEight foot tall cacti on the Isla del Pescado

IMG_5038 What happens if your bus driver doesn’t know how to drive through mud…

IMG_5092IMG_6930Rocks.

IMG_5090An active volcano whose name I forgot.

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The Dali desert (they filmed a James Bond movie here…)

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SONY DSCIMG_6948IMG_6956Laguna Colorado, home to three different types of flamingos.

More pictures from the salt flats coming soon…

(We’re currently in El Chalten, Argentina. Its freezing cold and snowing sideways here. Ick.)

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Beauty; and the Beast

The three day, 6088m climb to Huayna Potosi proved to be the most challenging thing the Khalerias had been up against yet. In fact, it proved to be too much for one little baby… (whose name rhymes with Labeena)

Day one: we took a two hour bus ride to the first base camp, and then hiked in to a glacier to practice ice climbing.

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Day two: we hiked from 1st base camp to 2nd base camp, where we tried to eat and go to sleep at 5pm – the hike to the summit started at 1am. The reason for early hike was two sided: one, the glacier starts to melt once the sun comes up, making it dangerous to traverse down; and two, the sunrise from the summit is supposed to be epic (assuming its not raining, cloudy or snowy).

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Day three (aka day two at 1am): the summit climb was to take between 6 and 7 hours, with a 2.5 hour return hike to base camp. About 2 hours in, at 5500m, I started to get altitude sickness. By 5600m I was basically rendered useless (think: unable to walk, and spewing), so I had to turn around and head back to base camp with another hiker from our crew. Talk about a serious bummer… less than 500m from the top!

Ryan, on the other hand, was (is) a rock star. After falling behind the rest of our crew when I slowed down, he not only caught up, but was the first to the summit – in less than 6 hours- and the first back to base camp!

SONY DSC Ryan at the top.

IMG_1702 The ridgeline to the summit

SONY DSCSunrise and glaciers.

SONY DSC Ryan and his guide on the trek down from the summit. (thank you thank you to MonandJr for this picture!)

A couple hours after returning to base camp I felt back to normal… and was a lot less tired than Ryan the next day. We rested up and head out for a jeep tour through the Bolivian desert.

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Lake Titicaca, from Puno

Lake Titicaca lies between the borders of Peru and Bolivia. We stayed in Puno, on the Peruvian side, and visited Uros – a group of floating islands. The history books say that the islands (built of reed) were constructed by locals to keep inhabitants of the area safe from invaders… though nowadays I can’t figure out for the life of me why they are still there. Must be the tourism industry.

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Reed – in its natural state.

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Reed – turned into the foundation and building materials for the Uros Islands.

IMG_3241 The island artisans.

We spent one night in Puno, and from there took an unpaved route around the south of the Lake to Bolivia – and experienced the strangest border crossing to date.

Entrance into Bolivia is notoriously difficult for Americans, since we have to apply for a Visa and pay a $135 USD reciprocity fee. Crossing the border through Desaguadero instead of Copacabana proved to be easier – although not without its challenges. (It only took us about an hour, despite horror stories we had heard about four and five hours through immigration, and officers only accepting brand new dollar bills, turning people back, etc etc)

Highlights of the border crossing:

  • going through four different immigration officers to get our Visas
  • finding a place to make photocopies of our Visa, since the immigration office didn’t(?) have a copy machine
  • one officer grilling us on why we didn’t have children for no less than ten minutes
  • another officer having pornography on his desk in plain sight

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We took a colectivo out of the border town and into La Paz, the capital…

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We’re headed out on Monday for a three day climb up Huayna Potosi, a 6000m peak just outside of La Paz. Not gonna lie, 6000m is really high, and Im a little nervous. Keep your fingers crossed!

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