07.14.2012 - 07.16.2012 65 °F
Sorata, July 14 -16
An hour on the bus from Copacobana took us to the small town of Huarni on the eastern shore of Lake Titicaca. The plan was to catch a micro or bus from there over the mountain to Sorata. After 45 minutes or so of watching jam packed buses and micros sail by us in a cloud of dust, I could sense the anxiety level rise as memories of our Quime to La Paz debacle sprang up. A taxi driver came by and sensing an easy target inquired if we needed a ride. At 300 bvs for the 2 ½ hour trip, I’m sure that we paid at least double the regular rate but he was a very nice guy and provided some history of the area and stopped for several photos as we drove up over the pass in the shadow Mount Illampu at 6,000 meters or just shy of 20,000 feet.
It so happened that we arrived in Sorata for the festival Virgen de Carmen
as well as the 203rd anniversary of the state of La Paz in addition to the last weekend of a two week mid-winter break for school so the town was packed with revelers from the many nearby villages and everyone was primed for a party. That evening the party got into full swing with a large march around the Plaza, followed by speeches from local officials with entertainment provided by two Latin Techno-pop bands that worked hard to determine who had the loudest sound system. Fortunately, our hostel, Casa de Piedra, was located down the hill from the main plaza so we were shielded from the primary onslaught. We thought that was the main celebration, but the next morning, there were more marches around the plaza, and more speeches with the whole thing repeating itself several more times throughout the day. It became clear, that in addition to being very religious and patriotic, Bolivians really like to march needing little excuse to throw a party.
We had a couple of days hiking around Sorata, caught up on some laundry, and Monday evening we moved to Altai Oasis a small eco-lodge 15 minutes out of town where we met our guides from Andean Epics the company that would take us two days mountain biking from the mountains above Sorata at 4675 meters to the gold mining town of Mapiri at 800 meters followed by three days on a river boat to the town of Rurrenabaque.