Monday, March 08, 2010

On International Women's Day, a retrospective of Coroico

Rafys is taking a nap right now as we spend a bit of a lazy morn on this sunny International Women's Day. I hadn't known of International Women's Day's importance to Rafys until today, and - at least from my point of view - it doesn't seem to be very much celebrated in the US, even if it was born there. Perhaps this is a strange outcome of the successes of the women's movement in the US juxtaposed against the problems of race. Or I'm just oblivious.

Coroico from the Calvary HillAnyway, my legs are still covered by insect bite marks from yesterday's track around Coroico. They loved my legs, but not my arms; they love Rafys' arms but not her legs. I wonder (briefly) why this is the caste. Still, we walked up the hill behind the city, following plinths which followed the various stations of the cross (much like the Calvary Hill in Copa), however, this climb was easier to climb (due to being at a lower altitude), but with a much smaller footpath. We then descended to the town's small and crowded cemetery, and walked slowly and meanderingly back to the main square - our legs and arms covered with bites.

Balcony at the Back-Stube in CoroicoWe stopped at Back-Stube Konditorei, a German-style cafe/restaurant and spent the remaining 1.5 hours on their patio, first with a chocolate ice cream and Kas spaetzl along with una jarra de jugo... Then I got a slice of German cake as well - chocolate, nuts, and raspberry jam. Mmmm....
Hills around Coroico
The Andean condors were sweeping across the warm air between the hills, six or more intertwining their flight paths, soaring and diving, working at play.

At the end of the day, we got on a microbus to come back to La Paz. The micro had a challenge climbing the major hills - mountains - separating Coroico from the capital. Sitting immediately behind the engine, the floor started to heat up quite remarkably, steaming up the inside of the bus and keeping us toasty as we crawled up the mountain. The night sky was marred by neither moonlight or manlight and the stars filled the sky, and perched at a long height of several thousand feet, looking down the valley, I saw a wall of stars, converging at a V, yet with the horizon remaining unseen. As we crested the divide, another set of stars emerged - those tight-clustered lights of the sprawling expanse of Bolivia's capital city, and - now going with the force of gravity - we sped toward the capital city - the last 30 km going by faster than any of the previous kilometers of slow, arduous, heated climbing.

As Rafys and I head back to Los Pinos in a cab, I remarked at how much the micro had to climb in order to go from Coroico to La Paz - a number that was an order of magnitude off, since I was comparing feet to meters, but after a correction from Rafys, we determined it to be still quite substantial. Although about 90 km in a straight line, this distance is misleading, since there are innumerable switchbacks on the Coroico side of the divide, and one must climb down from Coroico (1470m) down to roughly 1000m in order to get on the main road to climb over the divide (~4600m) before descending to Miraflores one of the higher neighborhoods of La Paz (4110m). Therefore, it's a maximum climb of 3.6km!

... now I must wake Rafys up.

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