La Paz Travel Blog› entry 35 of 129 › view all entries
Today Iâ€™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 theyâ€™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.
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 item that appealed to me most was a â€śmicrophoneâ€ť 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 â€śmicrophoneâ€ť 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.
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 heâ€™s gone to borrow a step, as theyâ€™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 Pazâ€™s poor.
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 donâ€™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, Iâ€™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.
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. Iâ€™m just slightly less glamorous in my ascents and descents.
Have dinner in the restaurant while doing my blog.
You may not hear from me for a while as Iâ€™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 wonâ€™t be any wifi at the home, but I can access wifi at the South American Explorers Club.