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1992 Bolivia

HIGHLIGHT: In eastern Bolivia I hitched a ride with a mad vet in a red jeep through stunning scenery – just bush and birds and butterflies – to visit the (ex) Jesuit mission at San Miguel. A beautiful, beautiful church designed in the 1700s by the Jesuits and built by the Guarani Indians (shades of The Mission). Whitewashed walls painted in navy ad maroon geometrical designs. Stone floors and huge carved wooden pillars. Spanish roof tiles in warm ochre. I was the only gringo in the little town of San Miguel and was greeted by so many people that my jaw ached from all the smiling I had to do!

En route Jesuit churches
En route Jesuit churches
Jesuit churches
Jesuit churches
Jesuit churches
Jesuit churches
Jesuit churches
Jesuit churches
Jesuit churches
Jesuit churches

HIGHLIGHT: In the 1500s silver in amazing quantities was discovered in western Bolivia and the city of Potosi founded there by the Spanish. At 4,070m, Potosi is the highest city in the world and so it is not only the surrounding scenery that leaves you breathless, but the altitude. Potosi is a relatively quiet and very lovely old colonial town. In its heyday it was one of the biggest cities in the world, but today it is tin that is mined there and compared to New York, Tokyo, etc, is tiny. It boasts narrow cobbled streets and buildings that front onto the pavements and wonderful old churches. I went one day to a nearby hot spring/lake in a crater where the Incas used to bathe. It is dangerous to swim in the lake as it is very deep and has whirlpools in the centre. The water runs into a small stone swimming pool, however, and here I joined a young couple from the local university and three army guys for a long relaxing swim.

HIGHLIGHT: On my 35th birthday I left an icy Potosi in a small camion (truck), planning to stop off at the market in Betanzos en route to warmer Sucre – Bolivia’s official capital. Riding the camion is the best (and slowest) way to see Oblivia and meet the Oblivians. Betanzos is a charming village set amongst beautiful mountains. The Sunday market there is a vibrant and colourful affair and as yet completely untouristed – again I was the only gringo in town. Hundreds of Indians come in from the surrounding countryside to sell their goods – fruit and veg and traditional Indian clothing and skeins of brightly-coloured wool and apple tea. The women dressed in their knee-length full skirts in shiny pastel pinks and greens or primary reds and blues. All with long black hair and a centre parting and two plaits. All with hats upon their heads – usually a bowler hat in brown or black or dark dark green.

Bolivia Betanzos
Bolivia Betanzos
Bolivia Betanzos
Bolivia Betanzos
Bolivia Betanzos
Bolivia Betanzos
Bolivia Betanzos
Bolivia Betanzos
Bolivia Betanzos
Bolivia Betanzos
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