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Archive for November, 2012

Who’s got 2 thumbs & totally fixed our computer?

This gal!!!!

It must be said that we are just independent travelers.  We’re not getting paid by any hostels or websites to promote their services.  We just like to keep other travelers informed, in case they decide to visit the same places we do.  We put a lot of our trust on the reviews & recommendations of other travelers, so we’d like to pay it forward.  We’re so happy that we found Jodanga Backpacker’s Hostel on HostelBookers.com!  Before leaving La Paz, I did some research on accommodation in Santa Cruz (de la Sierra) & based on the many reviews that I skimmed, it was clear that Jodanga was the highest rated & it was pretty clear why.

Modern Design

Clean Facilities

Pool (yes please!)

Other Great Perks Include:

  • English Speaking Staff
  • Free WiFi
  • Pool Table
  • Kitchen
  • Food & Beverages Available
  • TV/Movie Room
  • Lockers/Luggage Storage

Jodanga was our first dorm experience together.  I’d done it before while traveling in Europe, but this was Corey’s first time.  We’re both super happy that all the double rooms were booked when we arrived, because we finally got to meet other travelers & we ended up making a few friends!

We originally planned to stay in Santa Cruz for 2 nights.  In the end, we spent a total of 4 nights at Jodanga Hostel.  Three of which were at the start of our stay in Santa Cruz & another 1 when we returned from Samaipata.  The only reason we didn’t stay longer was because of the Bolivian Census.  Basically, Bolivia does their census in 1 day & pretty much everything was shut down, including the hostel for 2 nights.  Luckily, we found another place, Hotel Bolivia & we’ve been there since (a total of 5 nights so far).  It’s more expensive & definitely doesn’t stack up to Jodanga, but the location can’t be beat, since we’re right in the city center!

We’re hoping to catch up with the blog as much as possible before heading to Argentina by the end of the week! Until then, enjoy this giant moth we found napping on a sidewalk in Santa Cruz:

(we placed a travel sized bag of tissues next to it for reference)

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We just wanted to wish everyone in the States a Merry Turkey Day!!!!

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– Corey & Lisa –

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We should’ve known that things couldn’t keep running as smoothly as they have been, that’s just not the Waller way! We survived our first long (18 hour) bus journey & arrived safely to Santa Cruz.

Unfortunately, our computer has decided not to work anymore, by which it has reformatted itself, no longer shows that it has a drive & we can’t get the Internet to work! It’s pretty frustrating!

We’ll do our best to get the whole matter sorted out, but please bare with us in the meantime!

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Even though it isn’t the most beautiful city, La Paz has really grown on us . . . here are some photos from our many walk-abouts:

We still have a few posts to write for La Paz, but tomorrow we’ll be taking our first long bus ride to Santa Cruz de la Sierra . . . wish us luck!

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We originally planned to stay at our hostel for 3 nights. But, it became clear right away that we’d be extending our stay at Hostal Sol Andino, not only because we were sick, but it’s actually a really nice place. It’s located away from the city center & aside from some strange noises in the middle of the night, it’s pretty peaceful. We have nothing to compare this accommodation to since it is the first stop on the trip, but we’re pretty happy with our choice.

Welcome to our Room!

Facilities include breakfast, Wi-Fi, 24 hour hot showers (only had 1 time when the water wasn’t hot), daily room cleaning (we’ve only utilized this once), cable TV, luggage storage & a tour company that assists travelers with sightseeing. Plus, they have beautiful artwork throughout the property, which really helps the place feel very friendly. The staff has been very helpful with directions, contacting taxis and other miscellaneous matters.

Our Bathroom

The Shower

Front Lobby

So far, our only complaint is how drafty the room is, especially when the temperatures drop at night. We requested a space heater, but they’re currently out. And, after looking into some of the other accommodation options in La Paz & the reviews that they’ve received, we’re pretty lucky to only have draft issues. They claim that English is spoken, but not everyone on the staff does. With some miming & patience, communication hasn’t really been an issue.  We know that in the future, we’ll be staying in cheaper places & therefor dealing with other more unpleasant situations (ie: late night party people, smokers, bugs, smells, etc.), so it’s nice that we’re here for our first stop.

More artwork from the hostel

Hostal Sol Andino cost us about $28 a night ($14/bed) & we’ll be spending 9 nights here, before heading to our next destination.  We hope you enjoyed the tour!

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As some of you already know, we didn’t exactly spend our first few days in La Paz as we originally expected.  We arrived quite late into Bolivia, in the early morning hours of October 31st. We were on the last plane that landed that night and we also ended up being the last two in line to get our Visas and take care of all immigration related things.  We both pretty much went straight to bed upon arrival at our hostel despite our excitement.  The following morning is when things started to turn bad.  We both woke up with massive headaches.  I soon felt nauseated and felt the need to run to the bathroom.  My nausea was soon followed by Lisa’s and she too had to run to the bathroom.  Altitude Sickness was getting the best of us. Although she felt pretty much like crap the rest of the day due to a bad head ache, she ended up much better off than me.  I proceeded to have nausea related issues for the next 24 + hours.  It actually got so bad on our 2nd morning that we decided I should see a doctor ASAP.  Luckily, the person at the front desk called a cab and pointed us in the right direction. I ended up seeing a doctor at around 5AM.  Despite some break downs in communication, he was able to give me a shot of something and he prescribed 3 medications. Here is the craziest part of our the whole experience. The doctor visit plus the 3 prescriptions cost us a grand total of $20 and the best part is that it all worked and I’m feeling much better. We both are, so much so that we decided to take our first “sight seeing” trip yesterday to the most important archeological site in Bolivia, if not the whole of South America.

Bolivian Countryside

Tiwanaku was one of the sites that I most wanted to see on our trip. The ancient city of Tiwanaku was discovered in 1549 by a Spanish conquistador, Pedro Cieza de León and since then date has caused nothing but questions for archeologists and lay people alike. The conventional wisdom says that Tiwanaku and people that inhabited it were just simple, but mysterious Pre-Inca civilization that started up as early as 1500 BC. There are other, fringe researchers that believe the site to be much, much older, possibly dating back to around 15,000 – 10,000BC. These researchers feel that the people who lived here were also much farther advanced than most archeologists give them credit for.

Our first glance of Tiwanaku

There is another set of researchers and lay people who believe that the creation of this site, along with many others around the world, is the work of “Ancient Aliens.” One of their many understandable reasons for alien involvement is the shear size and weight of the stones and blocks used at a number of these sites including the Great Pyramids and Tiwanaku. Puma Punku, a site very close to Tiwanaku, is based around huge monoliths (carved stone blocks) weighing more than 100 tons. Despite sciences and modern technologies best efforts, neither have been able to explain or duplicate how to move these massive blocks, even with cranes. I guess we may never truly know how and why and by whom Tiwanaku and Puma Punku were built.

Tiwanaku Ruins

Our day started off with a 1 and a half hour mini-bus ride from La Paz, through the Alti-Plano (the very, very poor high plans above La Paz), to Tiwanaku. We booked the trip the evening before through the travel agency that works with our hostel. In our group were 5 friends from Chile, 2 friends from Belgium, and a middle aged pair of “friends” from America, who did their best to hold together the stereo-type of the obnoxious Americans. Once we arrived at Tiwanaku, our guide showed us around the two museums on site. Although we were not allowed to take any pictures in the museums and guards did a pretty good job preventing people from doing so, Lisa was able to get a shot of the coolest exhibit in the museums, one of the mummies found at the site.

After our museum tour, our guide took us out onto the site. We first climbed to the top of the remains of a 6 level pyramid. The climb, although short, left everyone pretty winded due to the altitude. Next, he showed us around the main site, the cemetery, main worshiping area, and another cemetery/ritual area. At the main site, the last place our guide took us was to see the Gateway of a Sun. Maybe the most important artifact at the site, the Gateway of the Sun in huge arch carved out of a single monolith with an as yet un-deciphered hieroglyphic language. I had seen many pictures of it in some of my reading material so it was very cool to be standing in front of it.

Our last stop on our tour was Puma Punku, the site I previously mentioned that contains the gigantic blocks and some interesting tool work of other blocks in the site. Our tour concluded with a local lunch, which was OK, and the 1 and half bus ride home.

Huge monolith rock at Tiwanaku

More ruins at the main site

All in all, we both really enjoyed our first true day out. After being sick and cooped up for the first couple days of our big trip it was great to be out and enjoying our time seeing South America!

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We arrived safely to La Paz at around 2:30 AM on October 31st.  We are, however, still trying to acclimate ourselves to the high altitude!  Once we’re ready to explore (& actually have something to talk about), we’ll let everyone know about our first impressions of Bolivia.

Until then, enjoy some photos from our flights . . .

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Adios!

 

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