Exactly 7 years after our start –back then to India- today we’re at Copacabana of all places! Not the famous beach in Rio (that is for later) but the small Bolivian village on lake Titicaca from where you can go in the footsteps (and as he flew as well, in the wingsteps) of good old Manco Capac and his Princess when making his ceremonial Inka center at beautiful Isla del Sol. It is not for the few ruins (nothing beats Peru’s Machu Pichu or Pisac or even Trujillo when one wants to discover the rich and wealthy Inca culture), but it is the setting on a 7km long max. 70m high island –some would say this is the Aegaean sea with its small isles- against the blues of both sky and water, and the whites of both tiny clouds and snowcovered Andes a few kms from here.
To get here from Arequipa Peru, the bordercrossing was in the midst of THE annual festivities at Kasani, with music and folkloric dances. And some say with free and abundant coupling all night long the libertine way, so as to guarantee apparently non-fertile womenof tens of kms in the surroundings to get a baby after all.
From here onwards this is cheap, relaxed Bolivia, with hats for gents and ladies in all sizes shapes colours, lots of footwork or with the local pickups/minibus/microbus with heavy loads on the backs in a shawl else blanket, but always chewing coca-leafs –even the police use them.
Nice scenery with cold nights and sunny days at +3 or even 4.000m altitude, driving along the top of the Andes on its neighbouring mountainranges. Some nice towns even its several capitals, (government) la Paz, the white white Sucre (judicial),Santa Cruz (economic) and silvermine rich Potosi.
the white white Sucre (judicial),Santa Cruz (economic) and silvermine rich Potosi. One can witness the miners hard labour on underground tours . .. with rich rewards at todays silverprice of +40$/ounce. Let’s make a quick calculation. 6.000 guys (and 200women for some admin or selection work of the ore dug up) daily output 4 to 6.000 tons of raw material, resulting in an amazing 65 to 100 tons of real silver, each day. No wonder the Potosi’s can rule government if they wish, butif it is not them then the leftish students at Sucre (the White town with some nice Museo), else the coming up women lib, else one or other Indigeno group boycotting the economy by a strike/roadblock or worse (for or against you name it, too expensive diesel, too little education, too fast closing down of all illegal mines, too expensive taxes on illegally imported cars, too much indian territory sacrificed to a new road…).
But also the indigenos some 600 years before the Inca needed THEIR ‘Ayers Rock’. Close to ever springtime Samaitapa also this ‘ayers rock’ el Fuerte is big (220m x 60m), red (after a Karcherjob), and a ceremonial center and more. However it is also carved in, offering baths for the kings, altars for the defeited, niches for the deities. Impressive, and just 800km inland from Brazil, a perfect spot for the conquistadores to build their own fortress in front of it.
And right there a new car problem, this time a leaking diff. But with 4 new tires (at last, found in Santa Cruz) the road leads on… Again not always in a terribly good shape to use an understatement, driving in a large riverbed with rocks, boulders and stones for 100’s of km, else lousy dirt road or Roman ‘heirbaan’, but always with tons of free dust! And the heat is gradually building up as well, with the first green parquitos flying over.
Amazingly some horsedrawn coaches with the typically dressed youngsters or parents reminding of Virginia’s Mennonites, and indeed over here is a quite large community of them in places as Waldheim or Neuland. Closing in to Brazil the cheap dieselprice is now being multiplied by almost 3, just for foreign cars, although I manage to getin 1 case a lot of litres for half the deal (after all I am a good Belgian), and in the last petrolstation even the normal price since I can convince the military operated station I’m running on my last liters.
On the BiOceanico to Brazil’s Mato Grosso
Leave the cocaleafs behind, for even the local Police needs them in Bolivia. Continuing from the Pacific on the new not yet finished Transoceanico or BiOceanico direction of the Atlantic.
Be prepared for a few hours of borderqueuing, change your BOB into Reals. Cross the Rio, mix a couple of anaconda, capybara, deer, cayman, flamingo, parquito, macac, hawk, ara, the local marabou or gigantic tuiuiu and a bunch more colourful birds, stir them in a lot of water and islands crisscrossed by a few mighty rivers on let’s say a few huge footbalfields the size of 20x the Everglades, throw in a couple of tucan and some more 100.000’s of cows and horses, and build 1or 2 rainflooded dirtroads with a few hundreds ‘bridges’ to bring a few crazy tourists in who should be well armed against mosquitos, yellow fever and +36degreesC. That is THE Pantanal in Bolivia Paraguay Brazil. Too bad there are no elephants, giraffe and more antelope or one could almost think this is the Okavonga delta. But very soon, end September there is the thread of downpoors turning the 2 passable roads into nightmares not done for tourists and Rimors alike.
So a strenuous drive around the Pantanal and inland brings it all except the local jaguar which is on holidays or taking a businesstrip. But after a few good pics it seems more of the same is all one can see, even after having gone 1 bridge too far needing some help from a local 4x4to get the Kata out the ditch.