We really enjoyed our little lake side hang at Copacabana, but we had to move. The internet connectivity was killing us.
Before leaving, we went up to the cathedral to have our van blessed. We’re not religious, but this is a big thing in Bolivia. I figured it couldn’t hurt.
We parked in front of the church and proceeded to allow Sol to “abre puertas”.
The whole blessing process starts with decorating the vehicle, and the locals were more than happy to help us.
Stevie was really digging this effort. She’s into things like this. She likes rituals, and she really liked dressing the van up.
After a while the priest came out and without asking, without hesitation, he walked over and promptly blessed Soleil.
Then he huddled us in a circle and told us that he was going to bless the van so that,
“We didn’t get into a car crash, and that we didn’t kill anyone”
Then he walked around the van throwing water on it.
Below, with holy water still dripping off her forehead, Sol gives me “the look”.
Translation – “Did you really just let that guy pour water all over my head?”
Ok, officially blessed. Time to head into Bolivia proper.
About an hour down the road, we ran out of road. There was a half mile of water between us and the only way forward. When I saw the ferry that we were meant to board, I was feeling a lot better that we had taken the time to bless the van.
I’m not going to lie to you… I was more then a little nervous about this “boat”.
I’m no Nautical Engineer, but something just didn’t feel solid about this vessel.
Was it the fact that I could see water when I looked down through the gaping holes in the rotting boards? Perhaps. It’s hard to say.
I wasn’t the only one who was nervous. Sol had a worried look on her face the second the van started rocking back and forth from the waves. Stevie and I decided it was best to unbuckle her from the car seat.
We agreed that if the boat sank, I would grab Sol and she would grab Kiki. I suggested she take off her boots. It’s easier to tread water when you’re not wearing high cut leather footwear. That’s a fact. You can Google it.
Stevie quickly pulled some of the “blessed” decorations off the van and put them on Kiki. Everyone who follows Sprinter Life knows that Kiki can’t swim.
And off we go.
The blessing must have worked, because we made it across without incident and continued on our way. Our plan was to drive a few more hours to the town of Sorata up in the mountains.
Along the way we took in the images of Bolivia. It’s always great to see a new country for the first time.
Bolivian car wash
Bolivian Auto Shop
Locals working their land
One of the reasons we wanted to go to Sorata was to get closer to the mountains that we had seen from Isla Del Sol (remember here). Given that we were already driving at around 13,000 feet, it’s obvious that these things are BIG. We climbed over this one to Sorata on the other side.
Dropping off the mountain on the back side, looking down at Sorata below.
Sorata was a nice little mountain town. We posted up at a hostel on the plaza. There was no internet to speak of, so we knew this was going to be a one night stand.
The next morning we got up early and started the drive to La Paz. More great sights on our way into the big city.
We knew La Paz was going to be cruxy since our GPS had no readable maps on it. This city is the real deal. A nightmare maze of narrow, one-way streets with NO signs anywhere. We were on the north side and needed to get all the way to the south. I was prepared for the worst.
As we approached the perimeter, Stevie rolled down her window at a red light and asked a guy how to get to the south. He shouted a couple instructions, the light turned green, and we drove on. At the next light he pulled up on my side, rolled down his window, and shouted “follow me”. Then he proceeded to lead us for nearly an hour and a half across the city to where we needed to go.
This guy is either our secret guardian angel in disguise, or he felt so incredibly sorry for us that he couldn’t stand the thought of sending us across the city alone!
Either way, thank you Mr Angel in the cruiser with the cross on it. You saved our day, and quite possibly our marriage.
Our destination was Oberlander, a Hostel that has a parking lot on the southern outskirts of La Paz. This is a refuge in a giant sea of brown buildings and concrete. The owner allows overlanders to camp in the parking lot on their way through La Paz.
We set up in the corner and said hi to the other overlanders, some of whom we’ve known for years via the internet.
Sol was pretty thrilled when I told her we’d be camping in the van. She absolutely loves it when we all sleep together.
We’ve got some things to do here, so we’ll probably hang for about a week. I’m scared to leave the compound, but Stevie really wants to go see the Fighting Cholas in La Paz. That should be interesting. I told her I’m not driving anywhere. So, taxi it is.
“Why yes, I’m almost always smiling!”