Wednesday, March 2, 2016

La Paz

[2 March 2016]

Since the temple is closed, we decided to take the week and go to La Paz to see what has changed and what hasn't.

Monday 22 February 2016
The taxi picked up Brother and Sister Angle (Chris and Sue Ellen) and us at the garita at 6:30 am to take us to the airport. We flew out at about 8:00.

Hno. Vasquez, who works here at the temple one week a month, and his son met us at the airport in La Paz. We met Hno. Vasquez and his wife at the temple. They come the third week of every month and stay in the hospedaje so they can work in the temple for the week. They are very kind, loving, humble, generous, fun people and dear friends. They fed us lunch of salteñas (my favorite) and jugo de piña (pineapple juice) at their house. There was such a sweet spirit there. We also met their youngest daughter and her 10 month old twins.

The view from their living room was spactacular. La Paz is shaped like a giant bowl with houses built all up the sides and in the bottom and we got a good view of this from their window.

View from the window of the Vasquez home.
After lunch and a quick visit, their son took us to the Pozo's home, where we would be staying for the next three days. Maria Pozo is the sister of our dear friend, Saul Montaño. Charlie met Saul on his mission and we lived across the street from him, Beth and their kids for 25 years in American Fork, Utah. Our lives have been very intertwined over the years. We love the Montaños, they are like family. The Pozos feel like family as well.

The Pozos live in a neighborhood called Calacoto. They have a very warm, inviting, beautiful, grand home, complete with an indoor racketball court and swimming pool. We (Sue Ellen and Chris Angle and us) had our own bedrooms and bathrooms. Maria Pozo took us on a tour of their house and made us feel completely welcomed and at home. They are so generous with everything they have. I think everyone who is LDS and lives in La Paz knows them or has stayed in their home. He has been a bishop and Stake President, and now is serving as a counselor in the mission presidency.

Both the Vasquez and the Pozo couples are amazing examples of good marriages and Christ-like attributes. We felt very honored to spend time in their homes.

Our driver picked us up to go to Moon Valley, but because of the rain we decided not to go into the park. We went to Mario Sarabia's ceramic workshop. He is a world renowned artist. He makes ceramics from clay found in the area. He told us many stories and spent quite a bit of time with us. His work tells the the stories of the people who lived in Bolivia before the influence of the Spaniards. One story he calls "The Flying Cholitas". You only see them from the back side. They are carrying a baby to the top of the mountain. When a baby was born with a defect that they couldn't care for, the mother and two attendants would take the baby to the top of the mountain. The thin air would cause the baby to fall asleep and the Mountain God would take the baby and in return bless the family with health and good crops.

Another is the Pachamama, which combines the native "Pacha" Universe with the Christian "Mama" representing Mary. Charlie bought us a ceramic Pachmama. Sariabia's daughters also make jewelry. Charlie bought me a beautiful delicate necklace of Bolivianita, a stone that is found only in Bolivia. The color is a mix of amber and purple.

Pachamama ceramic from Mario Sarabia's workshop.
Bolivianita - a gem found only in Bolivia.
The weather had cleared so we made another attempt at Moon Valley. Imagine Bryce Canyon or Goblin Valley without the color. We took the 45 minute walk through. Very interesting!

Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley) in La Paz.
Here's a link to a panorama I took with Hno. Angle admiring (!) the mud: Valle de la Luna

This is a guide at the Valle de la Luna in typical La Paz dress. The indigenous people here don't like their pictures taken, so we had to get what we could:

The Pozos fed us a wonderful dinner. Sue Ellen and I helped prepare it, which gave us a good opportunity to visit with Maria. After dinner we had FHE. It was very sweet, we shared how the Spirit had spoken to us especially in regard to serving a mission here.

After the lesson we had ice cream and played a really fun game that made us laugh so hard.

I am so impressed with these generous gracious loving good people.

Tuesday 23 February 2016
Our driver, Ricardo, came for us about 8:00 am. We went to ride the Teleferico.

The Teleferico is a tramway that transports people (lots of people) in "cars" that hold about 8 adults comfortably from cables above the city. It's like a ski lift, only more sturdy and enclosed.  Since the city is shaped like a bowl and the houses are built right up against each other, with few roads between them, the teleferico is a great way to get from the bottom of the bowl to the top of the city. In fact, it takes less than half the time as it would to drive a car or take the bus.

There are several different lines. We took the yellow line up to El Alto, and then back down. We then picked up Heidi Soliz, the sister of Israel Soliz, who arranged this trip for us. Israel is our friend who manages the hospedaje and plans trips for people like us on the side. Heidi rode the red line with us. It goes right over the main cemetary in La Paz - very interesting views.

View from the Teleferico Amarillo (Yellow) line.

An interesting way to watch a futbol game - from the air.
The red line station is just behind the old train station. Charlie remembers coming from Cochabamba to La Paz to that train station 40 years ago. The Teleferico costs 3 Bs one way. It is very fast and very efficient and the view is spectacular. It was so interesting to see the city from above and right into people's yards and some of their homes. I was surpised to see that there are few streets between these houses. There are sidewalks and lots and lots of stairs. Imagine being pregnant with toddlers in tow and groceries to get home.

The old train station - converted to a Teleferico station.
This is the side that trains arrived on.
One of the old train cars. The trains are no longer used here for passengers. You can see the
teleferico line above.
Cemetery mausoleums - these covered acres.
Some of them looked like apartment buildings.
With Heidi as our guide, we walked down this quaint darling street (Calle Jaen) that was built by or owned by Pedro Murillo, a libertador, a hero of the people of La Paz. He actually lived in one of the houses. The houses are now mostly museums.

Calle Jaen - Museum central!
We visited the museum of musical instsruments. It was very interesting! Especially after what the ceramic artist told us yesterday about the art of a people being one of the first things that a conquering country tries to destroy.

This doll made us think of our son Seth and all his musical talents.
Molly in front of a map of all the different kinds of instruments and the
areas in Bolivia where they were created.
 Native Bolivian instruments:

Want to see Seth play this guitar!
Or this one!
Next we went to Plaza Murillo, where the Government buildings are, walked around the plaza, watched all the birds land on people's heads and arms to feed, and heard about the libertadors. One who had his statue erected was Pedro Murillo. Another one was a man who got his head taken off. His body and head were placed in two different coffins in the crypt of the Cathedral San Francisco which we had the opportunity of visiting a little later.

We were too late to go inside the central Cathedral, so we got back in the van and headed to the Calle de las Brujas. Brujas are witches. It is mostly a tourist trap now but it was very interesting to see all the shops. Many had llama fetuses to bury in your yard for good luck etc. Charlie bought me a Cholita doll that looks just like the cholitas in La Paz. That was so sweet of him, he knows I love the cholitas. This whole trip he and Sue Ellen have been taking pictures of the cholitas. They also had beautiful aguayos, sweaters, shawls, bags galore, etc.

Need a dead llama for luck?
Lots of interesting, colorful fabrics.
Here's a picture of a cholita doll that Charlie got for me at the witches market:

We next traveled up to a look out point where we could see the whole city. It was spectacular! Charlie took a photosphere and a panoramic picture of it (the railing is messed up because I was trying to avoid getting a lot of people in the picture! - Chuck) There was also a tree that was 700 years old. It was too cloudy however to see Illimani, the huge snow capped mountain at the end of the valley. Hopefully we will see it before we go.

We went inside the Cathedral San Francisco. It was quite amazing. From a tiny, low ceiling, narrow stairway to the roof and the belfry down to the crypt and everything in between which was a very very glippy ornate, very Catholic cathedral. It was very interesting.

We said thanks and good bye to Heidi. We took the long way home to the Pozo's by way of Charlie's old mission office which is now a big LDS church building where they have mission offices and church offices as well as a chapel for Ward meetings. He did recognize the park by the church, where he and his companion took their pictures 40 years ago.

By this time it was about 2:00 pm and we were all hungry and tired so we came home for yummy left overs and a rest.

The Pozos had a meeting to go to at the chapel and said they would drop us off downtown if we'd like. There is a "county fair-type" thing going on during January & February so we went. It was fun, lots of vendors, game tosses for prizes, fried foods, miniatures (if you buy them, they give you luck toward getting the real thing) etc. Plus a lot of kids playing foosball.

Afterwards, we took a taxi home. The traffic in La Paz is much worse than the traffic in Cochabamba. It took us a half hour to go about a mile before we found a side street that would let us make some progress.

Wednesday 24 February 2016
Maria Pozo fixed us yummy pancakes for breakfast. By 9 or so we were all in their SUV to take the yellow line Teleferico to the top to meet the Paredes who came home from their mission at the temple yesterday. The Pozos wanted to take us to the Yungas which takes pretty much all day and this was the only way we could see the Paredes and go to the Yungas.

The Paredes, Angles, and Lyons at the El Alto Teleferico station.
The Pozos relaxing while we visited with the Paredes.
I have always wanted to go to the jungle and see monkeys there. The Yungas are in the jungle. To get there is an adventure in itself.

We drove up out of one valley reaching over 15000 feet, and then descended into the Yungas down in another valley at about 3400 feet. It took about two hours to get there on very winding wet roads. However, the scenery was fantastic! We couldn't see much because of the thick fog or clouds, but even that was beautiful. The mountainside was covered in lush grasses and flowers and trees. There were also many waterfalls. It was quite spectacular!

Taking pictures while moving is always an adventure.

Here's another photosphere taken along the highway.

In The Yungas there is a place called La Senda Verde, or The Green Path. It is an animal refuge. All the animals have been donated or rescued and brought to this place where they are well cared for. They have a lot of parrots, McCaws, a tucan, a capibara, a caiman, lots of large turtles and some smaller tarapin turtles that are not native to Bolivia but all others are. The species they have the most of are monkeys - capuchins, howlers and spider. They were so fun to watch. I have never heard howler monkeys make such noise, very loud. A few of the Spider monkeys had babies on their backs.

We met the man who started this place. He has always loved animals and this is a dream come true for him. He had a baby spider monkey with him. It had on a diaper and could not use its legs or feet. When they got it, it couldn't use its tail either, but with their care it is getting better and is starting to use its tail. We were in a "human cage" (a giant long doggy run) so we didn't have any monkeys jumping on us. We really enjoyed the La Senda Verde.

Here's a video of the Howler monkeys. We were told that they can be heard up to five miles away.

Thursday 25 February 2016
Our driver today was Juan, Ricardo's brother in law. He came for us a little before 8:30 this morning. The Pozos got up to see us off. They have been so generous and fun. What examples of a loving fun happy marriage.

We got to the airport about 9:45 to pick up the Russells and Hills. Their flight was delayed in Lima and they arrived a little after 3. So we hung out at the airport. We got something to eat. Charlie's tummy wasn't feeling well so he had a Cuñape and Sprite.  I had a chicken empanada, my first, and a strawberry drink with milk. It was quite tasty. We also bought some crackers and sugar free strawberry candies. The Angles ate hamburgers downstairs at the Factory. Juan ate with his buddies somewhere close by.

The airport was cold and we were sleepy so we found Juan and slept in the van. The Angles eventually joined us.

The Russells and Hills got in with just a little trouble with customs.

We took a very interesting, bumpy, interesting "short cut" through El Alto to get to the main road to Lake Titicaca. El Alto is on the high plane is very spread out, newer buildings, was very different from La Paz's bowl shape where every house is built right on top of another. Almost every woman I saw was in Cholita dress.

I loved all the little villages out in the campo that we passed. A lot of farm land, sheep, cows, llamas, donkeys. I saw a cholita of about 10 years getting water for her cow. Their were beautiful churches up on the hillside. The scenery was beautiful.

We started seeing the Lake and it kept going and going. It is huge. We stopped and took pictures. We went over a pass 14,000 feet to get to Copacabana, a quaint touristy town on the lake, where we are stayed the night.

To get there we had to cross part of Lake Titi Caca on a barge, van and all. It was awesome. Our raft didn't look like it would hold our big 10 passenger van, the boards were rickety rotted and not all there. But we did. Our driver opened our door and encouraged us to get out and take pictures. It was so fun to be on the lake, to see it, and feel the waves. I loved it. A real adventure. (These looked llike they could have been the same barges we used 40 years ago! Chuck)

Pulling away.

We arrived!
Bailing water out of one of the other barges.
Once on the other side we climbed the mountain to get to Copacabana. Again the scenery with the lake and the little lake communities, was spectacular. I was so glad our delay at the airport didn't keep us from seeing all of this before the sun went down.

We ate at a really nice restaurant. I had trout, vegetables in a creamy tomato sauce that I mixed with the quinoa. The trout was grilled and had a lovely flavor. Charlie sat by Juan at dinner and talked to him a lot. I love to hear him talk to Bolivians. Juan is not a member of our Church. Charlie and Chris talked to him quite a bit earlier about the temple and Eternal Families. I know he liked being with us. I hope some good seeds were planted. Our room was wonderful. A sitting area with a balcony and all the luxuries.

The view from our room at Copacabana.
Friday 26 February 2016
We drove to Tiwanaku after looking around Copacabana for a few minutes. The central cathedral at Copacabana is very ornate. It is the religious center of Bolivia. For the week before Easter, people walk from La Paz carrying stones to place on the Calvary mountain just outside Copacabana. The heavier the stones, the more sins will be forgiven according to their beliefs. It mixes the indigenous Pachamama worship of the earth with the Catholic traditions, from what we've been told.

At Tiawanaku we had a lovely meal. The owner of the restaurant was a sweet man 60 years old His daughter helped serve and his son was our guide. I was the only one in the group who ordered llama, but I think more actually took some to taste as we ate in buffet style. It was quite tasty. It was a lovely meal.

The tour was very interesting. It made me want to learn more about the ruins of Tiawanaku.

Here are a few pictures - it was quite rainy:
Puerta del Sol
Our guide pointing to one of the walls of the Temple of Kalasasaya.
The main entrance to the Temple of Kalasasaya, with one of the stellas framed by the doorway. Our group is featured, with
Molly on the left.
[This is Charles/Chuck's parting comments:
Tiawanaku wasn't as interesting as I had hoped. It seems that it hasn't been as well developed and researched as one might imagine, at least here at the site. One comment that amused me was the assertion by our guide that there were carved images of extraterrestrials, who helped build the site. Interesting.

And, just before we flew home, the clouds parted, and we got a little bit of a view of Illimani over La Paz. I had hoped to see something better, but this was the best I could get:


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