Great little kid, and the eldest son (out of three kids) of our tourguide for our three days in the Salar de Uyuni, Raul. This was Willy's first time tagging along with his Dad on a salt flats tour, and he loved it. He was brought along mainly to help with the cooking, but also to see how the tourguide thing is done (he'll probably be a guide too, one day), and just to enjoy the ride. I gave him my salty dice at the end of the trip.
For my last full day in Potosí today, I decided to visit the nearby thermal baths of Tarapaya, which are naturally warmed by the waters of the hot springs that come forth in this little area. Found a deal in Potosí, where you can hire a bike for the afternoon, ride down the 25km, nicely-sealed, mainly-downhill road to Tarapaya, relax in the hot springs at your leisure, and then return to Potosí via combi (just whack the bike on the roof). Great ride, and a very nice way to relax and get more clean, after yesterday's filthy and exhausting mine tour.
Issac was the guy who took me up the crazy climb of Huayna Potosí this weekend. He's an incredibly fit and ready-for-anything guide: he climbs the mountain as much as three times each week; and he knows it like the back of his hand. Couldn't have got to the top without him.
Orlando is a guide who takes his job very seriously. Like all the jungle guides in Madidi, he's a real character. When he walks you through the jungle, he goes stealthily, on tiptoe; and he motions for you to do the same. When he thinks he can hear an animal nearby, he turns around rapidly, and brandishes his machete, as if daring you to make another step or to produce another sound. And when he discerns that some animals are on the move not too far off, he suddenly breaks into a run, and you have to follow accordingly if you want to see what he's chasing. But also a relaxed, friendly, and amicable guy.
Another great Juan Carlos that I've met on my travels. This Juan Carlos took care of us during our three days in the pampas, mainly just driving the motorised canoe, but also catching anacondas for us, and taking us piranha fishing. A very relaxed and friendly guide, who knows his terrain like the back of his hand.
After we finished our guided tour of the Tiwanaku ruins this afternoon, our guide told us that there was one more little section left for us to see, if we wanted to have a look at it. But we had to hurry, because it was 4:30pm, and all the ruins closed at 5pm. So Chris and myself (Pascale elected instead to sit and smoke) went to check them out. However, even at 4:40pm, we were too late — already shut. Closing earlier than advertised is a popular pastime, here in Bolivia.
After only one day in Bolivia, I've already met my first two (of many) stark raving mad locals. These two cute little girls from Isla Del Sol demanded chocolate from us numerous times. When we refused, they explained how their parents are dead — "viven en el cielo" (lit: "they live in the sky") — and when we gave them some, they burst into hysterical laughter.
The people of Amantaní really are a great bunch. Each night, they throw a party for their gringo guests, complete with live music, traditional folk dancing, and family-size beverages. After dinner with our island family tonight, we were taken across the island (in the pitch dark) to the local hall, and partook in one of these nightly celebrations. If they really do this every night, then I have no idea how they keep it up: 'cause they sure do put on a good show.
The popular thing to do on the island of Amantaní, in Lake Titicaca, is to spend a night eating and sleeping with one of the local families on the island, in order to really experience life like they do. So that's what myself, Chris, and the rest of the crew from the morning's boat ride did. Myself and Chris got introduced to one of the Amantaní families, and taken to their farmhouse by the lake. We got well taken care of, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time living the simple life.
Chris and I were wandering around Puno after dinner this evening, when we encountered a big festivity taking place in the middle of the street, just round the corner from our hostel. Not sure exactly what the locals were celebrating; but they had a good old bonfire going in the middle of the (dirt) road; there was a most impressive brass band playing; and an impressive number of locals (with surprisingly few gringos) were standing around the fire in a big circle, with a few dancing in the middle. Good fun to watch, and everyone seemed friendly enough about letting us in to the circle of spectators.