We stepped into the courtyard and straight into the heart of a little family business. And it was more heart than business. On a low bench along a wall a young man sat pencilling designs on small rounded tan-coloured gourds. Two young women next to him, carving out his drawings, using nothing more than a nail sharpened to a point. I noticed the plasters wound … Continue reading The Gourd Man.
I kept thinking it was the sea; it’s so vast. Set at an altitude of 3,810m, and measuring some 190km by 80km, Lake Titicaca is by far the biggest high-altitude body of water in the world. Chugging out on the motorised ferry from Copacabana, it felt as though we were starting an epic voyage, and in some ways we were, for we were travelling to … Continue reading Lake Titicaca: The Sun And The Moon.
They were waiting on the steps of the cathedral. All fifteen of them. Temporary wall-flowers, waiting for their turn to waltz. Adorned in fine fabrics, shot through with gold thread, capped with crowns and canopies, surrounded by fresh flowers, and outlined against a sky-blue heaven. Each surrounded by his own musicians, dancers, dignitaries and followers. Spectators milled about. Some rested on the cathedral steps, others … Continue reading When The Saints Go Marching Out: Corpus Christi in Cusco.
Once you went in, you never came out. Santa Catalina: a pretty prison, but a prison nonetheless. Painted letters over the entrance to the first courtyard urge SILENCE, yet noise from the city surrounds you: the cries of street vendors, the clop of horses hooves, the hum of voices, the sound of life. There are forty-foot-high walls, but your prison is open to the air; … Continue reading Sisters Doing It For Themselves.
Party hats. Paper hats. Everyday hats. Men wear them. Women wear them. Kids wear them. There’s no escaping them. Here’s just a selection of some of the wonderful sombreros of Bolivia. Continue reading Hats Of Bolivia.
La Virgen Morena del Lago (the Dark Virgin of the Lake) lives in Copacabana, and she’s responsible for the bizarre ritual of the Ch’alla. Immediately after the conquest, Spanish treasure-seekers looted Inca temples around the lake, and priests destroyed any remaining shrines and idols, including a large female idol with a fish’s tail at Copacabana. When subsequently a series of devastating frosts ruined crops, locals … Continue reading The ‘Benedicion de Movilidades’. (Blessing of Automobiles).
It all started when a lorry driver brought them a monkey he’d run over. The owners of Sende Verde agreed to keep it, and now they have over four hundred animals, some rescued from illegal trafficking, some abandoned pets – all rescued from lives of misery. Visitors can see black spider, orange howler and capuchin monkeys at close quarters. Dangling from thin branches, bodies elongated, … Continue reading Sende Verde Wildlife Sanctuary. Bolivia.
They are everywhere in La Paz. Bowler-hatted women with wide layered skirts and yards of petticoats. A strange look. A fashion adopted from the colonists who used their own Spanish style to separate themselves from the indigenous people. But the Aymara took it, and made it their own, and centuries after the Spanish left, flounced skirts (known as a pollera) and fringed shawls continue to … Continue reading Cholitas of La Paz.
We’d been told to get there early. But the line was still long. Everyone wanted to try it. Where there’s a queue in Bolivia there are vendors. Men, women and teenagers paced and hawked. Ice-cream men did a roaring trade, pushing hand-carts, and handing out cones. Ball-point pens seemed to be the hot item of the moment. ‘Boligrafas, uno peseto’, shouted a man holding out … Continue reading As High As A Kite. In La Paz.
There’s no way a city like La Paz should be where La Paz is. Squeezed into a gully, red-brick houses tumble down steep slopes, and seem to dangle precariously, half-way between heaven and earth. It’s topsy-turvy crazy, with the poor people living on the canyon’s lip at 4,000m; (‘El Alto’ literally means ‘the high place’); the city centre about 500m lower, (referred to as ‘la … Continue reading La Paz. Not Just Another Big City.