Tuesday............Tiwanaku plus

La Paz Travel Blog

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Tiwanaku pyramid

Today I’ve arranged a full day tour with Fremen USD127.  For that I get a driver and an English-speaking guide, can go at my own pace without holding anyone up and ask as many questions as I like.  The guide is Carlos and the driver David.  When we go outside I see that they’ve brought a very comfortable van.  The only problem is, how do I get in with only one useable leg?  It is a mammoth effort, but I make it.

 

We go through El Alto on the way to Tiwanaku.  More about El Alto later.  Tiwanaku is an archaeological site that was accidentally discovered by a Spaniard in the C18th and only recently has seen significant excavations.

The sun gate made of one piece of stone weighing 10 tons.
  A large area, which includes the areas where the high priest and his followers lived, underground and above ground temples, has been set aside for excavation.  The temples are  astronomically situated, indicating the change of seasons and the solar year.  There is also a pyramid with seven stepped terraces leading to the top, a height of 18 metres.  The pyramid is still largely covered by earth accumulated over hundreds of years.  About 15% of the total excavation work  required at the site, has been done so far.

 

Before we went to the actual digs, we went to two museums nearby which explained the story of the Tiwanaku people and the site.  The people were in existence from around 1600 BC to 1200 AD, yet it is the Incas who were present from around 1200 to 1500 AD, that we have all heard of.  Tiwanaku was the capital of a vast empire which at its peak extended from the northern tropics of Peru toward the Chilean and Peruvian coasts and encompassed most of northern and central Argentina.

The "microphone" from the speaker's end

 

The item that appealed to me most was a “microphone” built into one of the stone walls.  It was hollowed out in the shape of the inside of an ear and when the high priest spoke through it, he could speak to his people as he could be heard clearly for a long distance.  Carlos showed me by getting me to walk some distance away, then yelling at me, so that I could hear.  He then spoke through the “microphone” and the sound carried amazingly and was much clearer than when he had yelled.  If you place your ear on the highest part of the hole, you can hear conversations or noises from far distances.  We should never underestimate how clever previous civilizations were.

 

I went to get back into the van, but my left leg is very tired after a couple of hours of walking.

Monolith of high priest
  It takes a major effort this time and two tries before I make it.  I don’t say anything, but I’m hoping I don’t damage anything else in my effort to look after my leg.  The men are a little annoyed that Jaira didn’t tell them about my leg as they tell me they would have bought a car if they’d known.  I didn’t say anything because I was expecting a car, for just one person, not a van.

 

 After we left the site we went back to El Alto.  We stop outside some nondescript place and David gets out and goes inside.  Carlos then explains to me that he’s gone to borrow a step, as they’re both worried that I might do myself some damage.  Sure enough, David emerges with a small wooden step. 

 

El Alto has a population of about a million and a high percentage of La Paz’s poor.

Stone faces in wall of underground temple
  The landscape is drab and very depressing and there are many unfinished buildings, boxlike structures.  Dirt and dust are everywhere.  As there is no pay for the unemployed, people are usually unemployed or have their own business, usually selling goods of some type.  However the level of pay/earnings is very low.

 

Tuesday and Thursdays are the main market days and we go to the Indian market.  Indian as in native, not as in the country.  There are so many stalls it is amazing.  We don’t get out, but drive through the market.  There are also, I guess what we would call fortune tellers.  Because we drive very slowly and stop sometimes, I’m able to have a good look and take some photos.  We go back to the southern end of La Paz and to what is known as the Valley of the Moon, due to the landscape.

Tiwanaku. Excavating the pyramid levels.
  Going back into La Paz, we go through the area where many of the most expensive homes are situated.  We then stop at the La Paz equivalent of McDonald’s, except that it specializes in pork. By now it’s nearly 3 pm and I have a nice roll with pork and a sort of pickled carrot and onion filling, and a Sprite BOB14, AUD2.  We then go through Miraflores where President Morales lives, sort of middle class for La Paz.

 

We drive around the main plaza a couple of times for me to take photos and then go to the Gold Museum and back to the hotel around 4:15.  The step that David got has proved invaluable during the afternoon.  It reminds me of the footman putting down the step for the Queen as she steps out of her horse drawn coach.  I’m just slightly less glamorous in my ascents and descents.

 

Have dinner in the restaurant while doing my blog.

Selling potatoes at indian market
  Bill from Hotel Rosario including 4 nights accommodation, some meals, laundry and a couple of phone calls turned out to be BOB1571, AUD230.  They had quoted me USD52 per night for a double room, but only charged me USD42 as if for a single room.  I’m not complaining.

 

You may not hear from me for a while as I’m off to Copacabana at 8 am tomorrow (slow wifi, if I have time), then Puno on Thursday night and on to Cusco on Friday.  If this homestay works out better than the last one, and I expect it to, then there certainly won’t be any wifi at the home, but I can access wifi at the South American Explorers Club.
pepernoten says:
I finally figured out how to read this blog today (I didn't realise you'd updated until now!) Have just gone through all your previous entries to catch up.
Posted on: Jun 12, 2008
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Tiwanaku pyramid
Tiwanaku pyramid
The sun gate made of one piece of …
The sun gate made of one piece of…
The microphone from the speaker…
The "microphone" from the speaker…
Monolith of high priest
Monolith of high priest
Stone faces in wall of underground…
Stone faces in wall of undergroun…
Tiwanaku.  Excavating the pyramid …
Tiwanaku. Excavating the pyramid…
Selling potatoes at indian market
Selling potatoes at indian market
Indian market
Indian market
El Alto.  Indians going back to th…
El Alto. Indians going back to t…
El Alto
El Alto
El Alto
El Alto
El Alto
El Alto
Moon Valley, south of La Paz.  Cla…
Moon Valley, south of La Paz. Cl…
Expensive houses, high fences, sou…
Expensive houses, high fences, so…
Cathedral, Main square
Cathedral, Main square
500 year old street, La Paz
500 year old street, La Paz
La Paz
photo by: wilfredoc2009