• Ann

Adventures in Bolivia

This past month has been exciting because I had the opportunity to explore other parts of Bolivia for the first time since I arrived in Cochabamba. With the pandemic and the busyness of schoolwork, it just hasn’t been possible. But within the past month, I have gone on two trips with a group called CLIMAL, a language learning school, and was able to meet other missionaries who live in Cochabamba.

Our first trip was a day trip to Incachaca, an Incan trail located on the more forested side of the mountains. I think the landscape was more similar to what people expect when they hear you are in South America. There were trees everywhere, and many were covered in moss and other plants. According to my sister, the plants growing on the trees were in the orchid family. There were rivers and waterfalls, and the day was overcast. In comparison, Cochabamba is a more scrub-like area that hadn’t had rain for over 2 months until last night.

The restaurant and trout farm

While at Incachaca, we hiked across a suspension bridge and into a valley to see multiple waterfalls and an abandoned hydroelectric plant. My favorite part was at the bottom at a place that was roughly called “The Bath of the Young Women.” The water was so clear, and if it had been warmer, I would have been tempted to wade or swim in the water.

Mary crossing the bridge

Baño de Ñustas

Our second trip was a 4-day trip up to the Altiplano, the Spanish word for the high plain. We flew to La Paz, the highest capital in the world, on Friday afternoon to begin our trip. That evening, we rode the cable car and toured the market and political squares.

The cable car ride

St. Francis church in La Paz

On day two, we drove to Tiwanaku, which is a famous Bolivian archeological site that predates the Incan Empire. The stonework was stunning, and our guide was very knowledgeable about the history that they know about the site, which truthfully isn’t too much. They don’t know what language the Tiwanakuns spoke or how they were able to carve such precise designs in marble, but they do know astrology was important to the culture and they were peaceful.

The famous Puerta del Sol

After lunch, we went back to La Paz so that we could drive to Copacabana (Bolivia, not Brazil). Copacabana is home to the only beach in Bolivia on Lake Titicaca. We arrived fairly late, so the only thing we did that night was eat dinner.

The ferry to Copacabana

On Sunday morning, we went to church at the shrine of Our Lady of Copacabana. After breakfast, we went on a hike to see an ancient observatory constructed by the Chiripa people, another civilization that pre-dated the Inca. Let me tell you, climbing stairs at a high altitude is no joke! And that morning’s hike was nothing like the one we undertook in the afternoon. For the second hike, we went up a hill on the other side of Copacabana to see the Way of the Cross and the Seven Sorrows. By the time we got back down to the hotel, my legs were shaking.

After our two hikes, we took an hour-long boat ride to the Isla del Sol where we spent our last night. We arrived at sunset, and the sight was stunning. What was not so stunning was the thought of all the stairs we needed to climb to get to our hotel. The stairs themselves were a sight to behold. They were old stone steps bordered by natural springs that the Inca used. But did I mention that we already had done two hikes up stairs at a high altitude? Needless to say, I had to stop a few times to rest. But the climb was worth it because we got to see the almost full moon rise above Lake Titicaca. The pictures I tried to take don’t do it any justice.

The next morning, we hiked the rest of the way up the island to see the views of the lake and Peru. Then we headed over to another Chiripa site: an old food storehouse. It is hard to wrap my mind around the fact that the building was constructed significantly before the birth of Christ and is still in very good condition.

And that wrapped up our adventures in Bolivia. We flew back to Cochabamba late at night, and it was back to the school routine the next day. I am grateful that I got learn more about the history of our world and experience the grandeur of the earth that God has created. I hope you enjoy some of the pictures that I took on my travels.

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