Sunday, February 17, 2002
Apropos of nothing, I thought I'd mention that the German family staying at our hotel brought their own cold cuts to breakfast. Germans love salami! We chatted with them awhile, and the daughter was very helpful in translating for us some information about the status of the roadblocks and such. We reciprocated by telling her about Laikacota Mirador. Throughout our trip, we ran into more tourists from Germany than from anywhere else.
Plaza de San Francisco
After several days of waffling, we decided that we would indeed mountain bike to Coroico tomorrow instead of taking a collectivo if we could arrange it today. I was sure that no one would be open since it was Sunday. But we walked over to Calle Sagarnaga and made arrangements at the second place we checked, Eco Jungle Tours. We gave them 40 bucks each, and they told us to come back at 8:00 a.m. They also said to be sure and wear jackets, as we would be riding through a couple of waterfalls. What!?!? I haven't been on a bike in about 15 years, but what the heck.
The ruins of Tiwanaku (Tiahuanacu) were next on our itinerary, so we grabbed a taxi for the bus terminal and caught a Desaguadero-bound collectivo which would drop us at Tiwanaku. It was 14 paying passengers, the driver, his helper, and one child in a minivan. Comfy! I got to sit in the driver's lap. Okay. Not really. I sat in the middle seat in the front, where I had to move my leg every time the driver switched gears. From there I was able to observe that none of the van's gauges worked, and I would have been the first to exit the vehicle (head first) in case of emergency. You'd think for our two dollars we could have gotten something more luxurious.
By the time we got to Tiwanaku an hour and a half later it had started raining. Hard. But by golly, that wasn't going to stop us. The good news is that we had the ruins almost entirely to ourselves. The bad news is that it was completely underwhelming. We knew they were ruins, but we had no idea how ruined. There was hardly anything there. But we walked around a bit and I took the obligatory pictures, then we jumped in another collectivo to head back to La Paz where we could dry off.
Puerta del Sol
Later, after drying off and warming up, we went in search of some dinner. Lo and behold, who should we run into but our friend Freddy. (See yesterday.) He said he'd reached his mom, and she was sending him $600 so he could return to the United States, but Western Union was closed today. He offered Tom some popcorn, which Tom declined. Then Tom shook Freddy's hand, which was covered in dried blood from yesterday's stabbing incident. This time I got rid of him for approximately 12 cents. He was again quite grateful.
We ate some pizza, bought jackets for tomorrow's adventure, and returned to the hotel to rest up.
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