Monday, 12 December 2011

Lake Titicaca, La Paz & Che Guevara

We left Machi Pichu and returned to Cuzco from where we caught a bus to Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca, where we stayed over night and then embarked on a boat trip across the lake to La Paz in Bolivia, which did not look to swish. Bleak, barren and windy, built in a wide hollow valley it seemed devoid of vegetation.As such it did not appeal and we intended to move on the following day which was  October 10 1967.

This was the outer rim of La Paz in 1967, foreboding, however got better as you entered the city lower down, where the central area of the city is tree lined and the  Spanish Colonial  Architecture of the public buildings create plazas and boulevards .

That night we booked into a hotel  and after we had eaten and gone to bed, we were woken up to gun fire and explosions that sounded close by, which re-occurred through the night and the constant blaring of  sirens, so little sleep was had. The following day we were informed that Che Guevara had been executed and there was considerable unrest throughout Bolivia with the indigenous people, who were coming in from everywhere in the truckloads throughout the city and martial law was declared, which meant no one could move around after sun down or they would be shot!!

We moved into a safe house supplied by the American Embassy as Lyn was American and I had a diplomatic visa for Bolivia which I had secured whilst working in San Francisco.

The Bolivian Army executed Che in a small indigenous town several hundred miles south west of La Paz called La Higuera. He was either cremated or buried no one seemed to know, they had his hands amputated and preserved in formaldehyde and latter taken to Buenos Aires for official identification.

Che Guevara in his baggy greens. I was aware  of him from when I lived in the Bahamas as there were legendary  stories of what Havana was like before the Cuban Revolution in 1959, when he and Fidel Castro ousted Batista the president. The Batista's ran Cuba and with the the American Mafia they also controlled the gambling, drugs and prostitution in Havana.

After four days, martial law was lifted and all seemed to return to normal and we caught a train to Antofagasta in Northern Chile for the long haul through the Antofagasta Desert, the most barren desert on earth.

There were interesting narrow lanes and streets that branched off from the central area and the buildings had a similarity with covered  arched walkways, colonnades  and porticoes. 

As the elevation was sometimes around 12,000 feet even though summer it would be extremely cold so I bought a "Ruana" in the markets of La Paz, it was made from Vicuna which are a smaller Alpaca, the wool was a lot finer than Alpaca,  a cross between silk and cashmere, hence very light and yet very warm.

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