Tuesday, June 8, 2010

La Paz, The Choro Trek, And Coroìco

Hello all!

Lots to catch up on here: we were in La Paz, we went to an awesome museum (or two), I got sick, Eliza got here, we did the Choro Trek, and now we're in Coroìco (my favorite spot in South America)!

So I really enjoyed being in La Paz, which is both a really happening city and a really gorgeous one at that. It's set in a mountain valley and surrounded by snowtipped peaks (it really looks like a postcard). It's also a lot of fun to throw yourself into the markets and see what kind of wacky stuff you come out with at the end of the day. I'm not exaggerating when I say that La Paz is the most lively and beautiful capitol I've ever been in.

Frankly, if the food in Bolivia wasn't so freaking awful (okay, sorry- just not my taste, I guess), I would totally move here. For Eliza's welcome dinner (yay Eliza is here now!) we treated ourselves to a fancy night out. I had some decent llama steak (my first one was better) in a mushroom sauce and the best chocolate mousse (ever!) for dessert. However, at some point along the line I think I ate something that made me sick, so I was largely immobile and nauseous our last few nights in La Paz. Yeah, after the whole kidney stew fiasco, and now this, I think I can confidently say the Bolivian cuisine is not for me (though I can't wait to get to Lago Titicaca and Peru for their delicious trout and ceviches!!). Thank god Wes and I had just bought all those BOL$4 DVDs (about 50 cents)- I got to watch all of last years blockbusters (Desde Cielos- the Lovely Bones- and Donde Viven Los Monstruos - Where the Wild Things Are- and Malditos Bastardos - Inglorious Bastards- so that was very exciting!!) while I was bedridden. So that was nice.

Also, our hostel in La Paz was awesome and I actually recommend it to anyone who's headed toward La Paz anytime soon. There's a free all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast, comfortable rooms, hot showers, free internet, a free beer from their microbrewery every night (we like free, can you tell?), tons of common space, the swankiest sky bar ever with an awesome view of the city... and cheap. It was awesome (called The Adventure Brew). But apart from sickness La Paz was great, we learned all about textiles and llamas and coca leaves and musical instruments and markets and it was great (check out the pictures from the Museo de Instrumentos- they had the most beautiful guitars and charangos ever! Also, Wes got a charango! And I bought the most beautiful hand woven wallhanging from a women's group in Sorota. Yay!!!!).

So we left La Paz on Saturday to do the El Choro Trek, which follows one of the Incan Trails from La Cumbre to Coroìco through the Yungas. It was so, so beautiful. They're not joking when they say that Bolivia is the Nepal of South America- we're talking lush, green, jungly and towering mountains, with poofy clouds above us hanging to the peaks and with warm warm sunshine below... check the pictures. It was incredible. The trek itself was also great- the going wasn't that hard (the first day actually was all downhill, along a paved Incan road, which was seriously cool) but still made you work a bit. We passed by a lot of Incan ruins as we went, a couple gold mines, and some smaller houses and villages scattered on the mountainside (and as I said, a lot of the path was paved with Incan stone, but after 600 or so years it actually amounted to a slightly more difficult to maneuver path). The trek was also sprinkled with llamas, donkeys, sheep, alpaca, cows, and the occasionally pig, which was kind of silly. We actually hired a guide for the trek, which I hesitated to do at first because of the price, but Lonely Planet seemed to suggest that we would be robbed at spear-point without one- though it turned out that the trek is perfectly safe and everyone does it without the guide, it was still really nice to have ours with us (Pasqual was a super friendly and knowledgeable guy, first of all; and Eliza rolled her ankle pretty badly the first day so it was good to have a couple people helping her with her backpack weight). All in all, the trek was spectacular- check the pictures, those views are going to make you envious.

We finished the trek in Chairo, a small village not far from Coroìco. When we rolled into Chairo and settled in for a beer with our new friend Kirill we passed a road with undoubtedly the highest butterfly concentration I've ever seen. The ground was covered in them (I think they're attracted to llama caca). It was such a lovely surprise. To Coroìco was a quick busride along a river (runoff of all the waterfalls in the mountains) where once again the views were astounding.

And now, Coroìco. I don't want to say too much about it (Tulum Sucks: For Your Comfort and Safety, Please Remain in Cancun) but I really, really love this town and am praying it doesn't blow up anytime soon. Obviously it's in the Lonely Planet book so tourists are already visiting here, but even so- if you ever come here, don't tell anyone else about it. We should keep it a secret so it doesn't become a horrible tourist attraction. All I can say is that it's my favorite spot in our trip thus far and am hell-bent on dragging my family back here over Christmas. Also I FINALLY had good pizza in South America here, last night at dinner, and you can bet your ass I'm going back tonight. Coroìco is the best.

And on another note, Wes and I seem to have finally hit our stride with out Spanish! I'm not afraid to talk to strangers anymore (maybe I still should be. They should definitely be scared, at least). And in terms of planning, we're heading out of Coroìco tomorrow and we're not quite sure where we're headed afterall. The group has decided to skip over the eco village/yoga resort (no worries, Wes and I are still going to one in Peru in a couple of weeks) and head north earlier than we had initially planned. Lago Titicaca and Macchu Pichu are bright on the horizon and I for one am really looking forward to them.

Oh yeah, and new pictures are up (not all of the trek and Coroìco yet, those are forthcoming)!

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