Wednesday, October 27, 2010

El Lago Titicaca

Well, I spent the last weekend at Lake Titicaca. It was incredibly beautiful, and I saw some Incan ruins which were pretty fantastic. Titicaca is publicized as the highest navegable lake in the world, but I have since found out that this is not actually true. It may, however, be the largest, highest navegable lake in the world...I'm not sure on that one. Measuring about 3,200 square miles and sitting at 12,500 feet, it's quite impressive.

However...I must say that it felt like being on Lake Michigan! I suppose I'm just spoiled, but it did make me miss home. We have quite the lake system, ourselves!

Titicaca shares a border with Peru, so I managed to wave to their country a couple of times while out there. Enjoy the photos!

Leaving Copacabana - we took a boat just like this one to Isla del Sol. We rode on the top!

View of the Andes and Isla de la Luna from Isla del Sol

Incan Temple of the Sun
Inca Steps. There are supposedly 1,000 of them, but it felt like much, much more.  You can also see here the traditional indigenous dress for the northern part of Bolivia.

Sunset over Isla del Sol and Peru

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Trip to La Cancha

So, La Cancha is unofficially known as the largest outdoor market in South America...and just happens to be in Cochabamba. I've now gone there twice...and it's difficult to describe. There are SO many people - to the extent that you are really just carried by the crowds. The stalls are divided by area - roughly all of the clothing will be together, all of the artesan products together, all of the food together, etc.

I think the best way to provide any sort of picture is simply to provide a list of some of the things I saw...please keep in mind that this is only some...

  1. Walls of shoes. Walls.
  2. A live chicken.
  3. A dead chicken - the whole thing - and then all of the pieces that had been removed from the other chickens who had already been purchased.
  4. Hand knit hats with llamas on them. 
  5. Stray dogs everywhere.
  6. Mountains of fruit - apples, papayas, pineapples, and many that I didn't know the names for.
  7. Abercrombie, Hollister, and a variety of other high-end brand-name clothing items 
  8. Women breastfeeding. They are everywhere. And they just whip out their boobs like it's no big deal. I think breast feeding is great, but it is a little awkward to be shopping for a pair of socks while the vender is breastfeeding her child (sometimes as old as 3 or 4 years old!).
  9. HUGE hunks of meat. Like the entire backside of a cow. 
  10. A dressing room made out of a sheet of fabric that was held up by the vender while another woman stood behind it changing her clothes - you could still see her head from the aisle:)
  11. Ripped off CDs and DVDs. There aren't really any copyright laws here...or if they are, they are not enforced. You can honestly get anything here. Justin Beiber seems to be very popular.
  12. A woman walking around pushing a cake on a cart. You could pay her and she would cut you a slice.
  13. In terms of selling food - there were people walking through the aisles with buckets of juice and sweets. My favorite are the women selling cups of jello - they wander through the aisles singing/yelling "Gelatiiiiiiiiiiiiiina!!!!"
  14. Microwaves. MP3 players. Cameras. Refridgerators. Speaker Systems. Televisions.
  15. Ice cream. Handmade. There are these big buckets that have handles on them. These buckets go in bigger buckets that are filled with ice. The woman stand over the buckets and spin the handle, creating delicious cinnamon or cream flavored ice cream.
There are so many more...but you get the jist. It's a mad house. I've heard it's even crazier at Christmas time. The first time I went it was overwhelming, the second time it was less overwhelming and more fun, and we'll have to see what the third time brings!  

A Trip to the Biblioteca

Hello my dear, neglected blog!

First off, Biblioteca is library. I finished the book I had brought with me, and decided it might be fun to go check something out from the library here! I got the address for Cochabamba's public library, walked my way there, and was immeadiatley out of my element.

1. You can't actually look at the books. You walk up to a large counter where there are two women who will take the information for the book you would like, walk back between the shelves, and bring the book to the counter. "Wandering through the stacks" doesn't exist here.

2. You can't actually check out a book. I mean, you do check it out when you take it from the woman at the counter, but you aren't allowed to take it home. There are two big rooms with long tables, and everyone sits there and reads. Well, some of them read. Some of them talk. If you are easily will never get through a book.

I wasn't so suprised by the card catalouges - organized by Author, Title and Subject...but it was impossible for me to find a book, as I didn't even know what I was looking for!

Luckily, Sustainable Bolivia (the host organization through which I am working) has a small library, from which I was able to borrow a couple of books that will hopefully get me through the next month. Plus, there are tons of bookstores around here, so I'll likely be coming home with some books as well!