Cranny’s South American Adventure


Our last vacation (that’s Mimi and Cranny) was in South America in January.  We really didn’t have any winter to escape from in Northern Wisconsin, but we went to S. A. for a couple of weeks.  Our daughter Suzannah had exited the Peace Corps (Paraguay) in the middle of December and traveled with some P. C. pals in Uruguay and Argentina for a while and then joined us in Sucre, Bolivia.

Sucre is an old pretender colonial capital with a 325 year-old university and lots of good looking coeds (alas, all my daughter’s age!).  A city square that is as lively as any one anywhere, not to mention a very favorable exchange rate for the almighty $Buck.  We got acclimatized to the 3600 meter altitude (do the math, it’s amazing) for a couple of days and then set of on our two and a half week grand tour of the Altiplano.

The first tourist stop we made was in Potosi and a silver mine at 4000 meters altitude.  We crawled through the same mines that financed the Spanish conquest of South America three hundred years earlier.  No American insurance company would have permitted what we did on that tour.  We also got to explode our own dynamite and learn to chew coca leaves.  Coca gives you just enough cocanoids (?) to give energy, but not (cough, cough) to disorient you.  Great for a couple of geezers.

We moved on to a tour of the Uyuni salt flats, a 5000 meter high desert, a red lagoon, a green lagoon, the Andes and thin air.  Way cool.  We had our own Toyota Landcruiser, driver, cook and three other traveling companions on a four day trek.  We were as high and in as thin air as the top of the Rockys in Colorado.  Damn!

We used public transit the whole time on roads that wouldn’t qualify as shitty in the old U S and A.  From Uyuni we continued on to Lake Titicaca (fifth graders – giggle now) and the isle of the sun.  Gawd, what a beautiful wet spot on the earth.  High mountain lake, island where the sun was created (no shit!) and a thousand years of history.

Returning to La Paz was really exciting because we got in on some gen-u-wine civil unrest, with tear gas and blockaded roads.  Seems Bolivians have a real democracy and when someone in the government screws up (are you listing W?), they riot, blow off dynamite, blockade roads and have a helluva good time.  (Note:  In Bolivia you can buy dynamite everywhere, but not hand guns.  Go figure)  We were close to the “unrest” several times, but nobody seemed bothered, so we kept on keeping on.

The part of Bolivia where we toured, the Altiplano, is bug free, mostly and majestic.  6000 meter mountains form the western boundary, and they go to Amazon in the north and plains in the east.

Whew.  Good trip, but can I be gone all the time?  It would be nice.

Love and kisses.  Cranny.


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