Tuesday 4 September 2012

What would Huckleberry Finn think of this??

This is a really funny sight to see these huge busses
on these small rafts. They tip at quite an angle as they
drive onto the rafts.
Today we left La Paz and rode the bus to Copacabana on Lake Titicaca. It was a mostly uneventful trip for the first couple of hours and then we had to cross a large body of water.....on a bus.

We were told we would be approaching a specific section of the lake and we would be disembarking the bus, and walking down to the shore to get onto a small ferry boat and would cross the section of lake in 15 minutes. We were also told to bring our passports as the police often wait and check people's documentation.
Waiting to board our boat while the 'sailbus' crossed.
We pulled up into the carpark and could see the beautiful lake and the more narrow section that we were to cross.
We were also told that once across do not wander off because once the bus crossed it then leaves immediately.

We walked down to the dock and saw our little ferry and about 15 to 20 people were herded onto it.

What was very unusual (to us anyway) was the mode of transport for the bus. These very large boats I can only describe as a raft , about the length of two busses, transporting one bus and one car or small truck each.

It really looked like they were going to drive the bus onto Huck Finn's raft. It is the only thing I can compare it to.

We took off on our little boat and enjoyed the view and got a few photos but I really was mesmerised by these full sized tour busses, there were three on three different rafts, tilted as they travelled across the water with two or three men controlling the rafts.
We laughed at how they tucked in the old VW Beetle behind
the bus on  it's way back to where we had just left.

We enjoyed the "show" as most of the others on board also did except for a coupe of locals who didn't seem to even notice.

Once across the water, we all boarded the bus again and spent another hour travelling to Copacabana.

Our guide directed us off the bus and walked us to our hotel, carrying one of our bags (mine :-) ) and we are now checked into a lovely Bolivian hotel that has lots of colourful fabrics on the furniture and Bolivian artwork on the walls.

This is the boat the boat passengers rode.
Once checked in we had an hour until he met us in reception to take us to where we were having lunch. We enjoyed a traditional Bolivian lunch of soup with very small cut up potatoes and a grain that I can only compare to barley. It had a few vegetables in it. It was very good. The next part of the meal was the main. We had a choice of three traditional Bolivian food. I had trout that is cut in half lengthwise and deboned completely and then it is fried up on quite a high heat as the skin was very crunchy and the meat side was not as crunchy though dry. It had a great flavour. Tom had beef with rice and both of our meals had cut up tomatoes. 

The man lined everything up so both vehicles were
able to get back onto shore. Imagine having this as your
daily job.
The restaurant where we ate luinch. The fish is the
container to put tips in. While eating a little girl came in
and tried to shake the money out of it w/ no luck.
Our guide, Efrian, had spaghettii bolognese which is a traditional Bolivia meal also. They eat spaghetti everywhere here but I had it twice in La Paz so decided to try the trout.
Tom had a beer, Efrian had a Fanta and I had a very large glass of freshly squeezed mango juice.

We sat at the table discussing various things about Bolivia, the USA and Australia, mainly political and Efrian is determined that I will learn more Spanish during the next two days he is our guide.

We have travelled a great deal but it is not often we have our own private guide. It felt quite rich as we were then escorted after lunch to the small town centre, and a visit to their large cathedral.

They worship the Virgin Mother here and not so much emphasis on Jesus. The enormous silver and gold altar covered the entire back wall of the altar. Photos were not allowed. The cathedral is in the shape of a cross as most are and he then took us upstairs where the Virgin Mary statue was transported into Bolivia from Peru when the original church was built in the 1500's.

This church was built in the 1800's. Again more silver and gold. He explained much of the history of the church and the beginning of the Christian takeover of Bolivia. The church wanted more control of the people and by introducing Christianity and building a cathedral they were able to change the practises of spirituality from the pagan practices of the past to worshiping the Virgin Mary. Now most of this was explained in Spanish and Tom translated a bit for me, I understood quite a bit and Efrian also translated for both of us when needed.

There is a room in the church called the candle room. It is a very long rectangular room with fire and hundreds of lit candles. People go in with purchased candles, light them, pray over them or meditate and wait until they burn down and soften and then write messages on the walls with the melted wax and bits of left over candle. It was very interesting to watch as I have not seen this practice before. However the smoke was so incredibly thick we could only stay a moment as it was like going inside of a fiercely burning building.
We were told by our guide that he had never seen it so smoky before. He led us back outside immediately because none of us could tolerate the smoke.

If I bury this one with a dried llama fetus as an offering
I am saying I want a better job.
We then walked through the markets, Tom bought an enormous bag of the traditional popcorn that has each kernel about the size of a ping pong ball. He was happy. It is more like giant rice puffs that have been sweetned and quite fun to chew on.

He explained some of the practises of the offerings still given in the form of candies and llama fetuses that are dried and then buried with all of these sweets and there are square sheets of candy that have different wishes on them. One had a house on it if the person wanted a house. You can pray for love (a candy with a couple on it) or a new or better job (a man sitting at an office.)

We were then escorted back to our hotel for several hours of rest before dinner.

We leave this hotel at 8:30 tomorrow afternoon to go across the lake to a large island where we will have more guided activities tomorrow and an overnight stay at the hotel on the Isla del Sol (Isle of the Sun). It should be interesting so stay tuned....

A -Santiago; B-Peurto Montt; C-Beriloche
D-Iquique; E-La Paz; F- Copacabana

(I am a couple of days behind in posting the travel blogs so if I have told you I am somewhere else in the meantime, then I am somewhere else.)

1 comment:

  1. Love your description of the Huck Finn type raft to carry the buses - that must have been quite a sight. And the candle room, with all the smoke, and the messages on the wall is so atmospheric. And what about those odd offerings - very colourful, but very peculiar.


I love comments. I promise to try very hard to reply to any message left.