Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Holidays and a Little Titicaca

Just 2 weeks to go in the South American portion of the peregrination! The last week or so includes time in Cusco for both Navidad and the New Year (with a few days of Lake Titicaca thrown in between). Both, I have learned, are celebrated with absurd amounts of fireworks. The fireworks have yet to cease entirely, which means I often find myself ducking for cover while trying to walk down the street. I hope to venture back into Bolivia by the end of the week (I hear Evo rescinded his order to raise gas prices 78% and so the people have stopped rioting) for 10 days or so before schlepping back to Lima for my return flight to the States.
  • One pretty fabulous Christmas tradition in Cusco involves nativity scenes. On Christmas Eve, they block off traffic and open the main square for a huge market. You can find the usual wool gloves, alpaca scarves, and leather keychains. You can also find, however, an entire section dedicated to DIY nativity scenes. People (mostly women) are selling the wooden frames, little figurines including llamas and wisemen with chollos (wool hats with the earflaps), and any earthen material needed for adequate manger bedding.
  • On Christmas Day, there are vendors lined up outside of the church in the main square selling whatever you may need for a DIY Jesus-cradle. This means people are selling the little baskets, little Jesus dolls, and clothes for the little Jesus dolls. During Mass, people put their Jesus cradles on the steps near the altar and get the Jesus cradles blessed. They just love the DIY-Christmas spirit around here!
  • After Christmas we headed to Copacabana and Isla del Sol on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca. On Isla del Sol you can eat one of two things - trout or pizza. Our favorite place we found was called Las Velas (the candles) and had no electricity. We were wooed by the sign on the path that claimed "Organic pizza made by gourmet chef." When we finally found the restuarant tucked back into the grove of eucalyptus trees, the guy who took our order was wearing a cap with a rather familiar logo - Domino's Pizza. I guess he's trained with the best? (The pizza was actually far better than Domino's.)
  • We tried to leave Copacabana for La Paz, but Evo Morales raised gas prices 78% and people were a bit upset. The civil unrest made La Paz impossible to get to, so plan B was to return to Peru. If our bus didn't leave, our plan C was to steal a swan paddle boat and just peddle across Titicaca. It would've been a great escape story...
Celebrating the New Year with Karin and Liddell in the Plaza!

Copacabana, Bolivia from a nearby hillside

Sunset over Lake Titicaca

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