Author: tlvice

Meeting Our First Grandchild

Fruita, Colorado – November 21, 2018

Our first grandchild, Michael, was born at virtually the same time as when I landed in La Paz, Bolivia for the first time.  He was born while his father was at sea.  On Veterans Day; father, mother, and baby were finally reunited.

Shortly before Tyler returned from deployment, he said he and his family planned a trip to Colorado around the Thanksgiving holiday.  With that knowledge, I was able to make arrangements to leave work for a little over a week and head to Colorado.

The anticipation was enormous!  I had not seen my wife for nearly four months.  She had been in Colorado.  I had not seen Tyler, Hillary or the rest of my family for close to 15 months.  I had never met Tyler’s wife, Victoria, and, of course, I had only seen Michael in photographs.

A very comfortable, sleeping baby.

My countdown for my Colorado homecoming finally made it to mere hours as I sat at home on the evening of November 19.  My taxi was due to pick me up at about 00:15 on the morning of the 20th.

Right on time my taxi arrived.  I was tired because I had only dozed while waiting.  Regardless, I wheeled my luggage, laden with Bolivian gifts, to the curbside and placed it in the rear of the taxi.  The woman who was my driver spoke virtually no English.  But even with me being 90 percent illiterate in Spanish, we were able to communicate.  One of her first questions to me, in Spanish, was whether I wanted her to go via the Llojetta route or take the Autopista.  I said I did not care, it was up to her as the driver.  She selected the Llojetta route.

When we turned off of Avenida Costanera onto Avenida Mario Mercado we began our climb to El Alto.  We went up and up.  In fact, there seemed to be no end to up.  The only difference in our climb was when we encountered a speed bump or a sharp hairpin turn.  Other than that, it was all up!  Because of the steep road, much of that part of the journey was made in second gear.

Our house in La Paz is at 11,180 feet (3,408 meters).  The El Alto International Airport is at 13,300 feet (4,054 meters); quite an altitude gain.

We finally crested onto the top of the El Alto mesa.  There were still several more kilometers to go to get to the El Alto International Airport, but at least it was all fairly level.

It was around 01:00 when we arrived at the airport.  I paid my 200 Bolivianos (US$29), took my baggage, and went inside the terminal.  By 01:40, my check-in was complete.  Ten minutes later I was at my gate, waiting patiently for my 04:30 flight to Lima, Peru.  That flight was right on time.

About an hour and one-half later, the plane landed at the Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima, Peru.  Since I was merely transiting Lima, I did not have to go through passport control.  However, I did have to go back through security screening.  I left the screening area after a very brief wait and made my way to Friday’s for breakfast.  I must have been hungry because it tasted so very good.

Departing the restaurant, I made my way to the gate for my flight to Orlando, Florida.  I arrived early.  I watched as the security and airline personnel set up another security screening area at the gate.  This is normal practice for a flight departing an international location, heading to a United States airport.  Once again, I had no issues and a very short wait for the screening.

Soon after the screening, the airline employees began to scan the passengers’ boarding passes and allow us onto the waiting bus.  When the bus was full, we were driven to the waiting Latam aircraft.  On board the plane, I settled into my seat and waited for the five and one-half hour flight to begin.  It ended up being a comfortable and uneventful flight.

Passing the Florida coastline on the way to Orlando.

Once I was off the plan in Orlando, Florida, I went to passport control.  As usual, that was a breeze.  I waited in the Customs area for my one bag to come off the plane.  My customs form, dutifully filled out in detail, rested in my pocket.  I lifted my bag from the carousel and went to the exit.  I did not see anyone collecting the Customs forms.  I asked a passing Customs officer to whom I should give my form.  She said they no longer use those forms…

To get to my next gate, I had to exit the terminal.  That meant I had to go back through a security screening.  Normally I have TSA Pre-Check status on my boarding pass.  The boarding pass issued by Latam in Bolivia did not have that notation as the lady at the TSA Pre-Check line pointed out to me.  She said I could go to a nearby kiosk and try printing another boarding pass.  I declined.  That ended up to be an error in judgement.

I entered the line for security screening.  This was the Tuesday prior to Thanksgiving in Orlando, Florida.  By the way, Orlando is home to Disney World.  The screening area was absolutely packed with holiday travelers and many, many families sporting Disney World attire.  The line snaked back and forth for a distance at least equal to the steep road to El Alto.

I was sandwiched in the line between two of the Disney World families.  The family behind me had a child in a stroller.  I lost count of the number of times the stroller bumped into the back of my legs.  The family in front of me was a husband, wife, and two children in the eight-year-old range.  I am not sure just how much of their home they brought with them or how much of Florida they were trying to take back to their home; but I did not know TSA had that many plastic x-ray bins.  I pictured myself finally approaching the x-ray conveyor, looking wistfully at an automaton TSA employee, and merely shrugging my shoulders because there were no more bins in the entire zip code.  Somehow, additional bins did show up.  When I could finally approach the conveyor, I placed my items in the bin (note that word is not plural) and stepped through security.  At this point, I request the reader to stop, take a deep breath, sigh, and revel in my successful trip through the Orlando security checkpoint.  One may also revel in the fact that there was no bruising on the back of my legs from the stroller.

Quite blissful, I made my way to Ruby Tuesday for a well-deserved glass of sauvignon blanc and chicken sandwich.

My last flight of the day was to Dallas, Texas.  I easily boarded the plane and had a relatively quick flight to DFW.  The plane arrived in Dallas at about 23:05 Bolivian time.  I could not make it to my final destination because there were no more flights to Grand Junction that day.

I waited at the baggage carousel to collect my bag.  With my bag in tow, I walked to the lower level, called the Marriott for a shuttle, and waited to be shuttled.  I made it to the hotel at about 00:00 Bolivian time.  That meant I had been traveling for about 24-hours.  I was very glad to lie down and sleep.

Early the next morning I got back on a shuttle and went back to the airport.  I checked my bag, grabbed some breakfast, and found my gate, D14.  While I was sitting at the gate, I saw a plane arrive.  The plane stopped short of the jet bridge because the ground crew was not there to guide the plane.  After 10 or 12 minutes, the ground crew arrived and guided the plane to a proper stop.  Just as that happened, I received a text on my phone.  With about 45 minutes left before my flight was to begin boarding, the departure gate was changed to Terminal C.  That was disheartening.  However, it turned out to be ok because I did not have to go back through security.

A wishbone sculpture in one of the DFW terminals. It seemed appropriate for Thanksgiving!
The D14 jet-bridge at the DFW airport.
An American Eagle plane arriving at D14. I mistakenly thought this would be my plane to Grand Junction, Colorado.
The pilots waiting patiently for a ground crew to guide them to D14.
Stopping on the mark at D14.

At the new gate, I boarded the plane, sat back for an easy ride, and was in Grand Junction by 10:30 local time.  This was Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving.

Leslie and Hillary met me at the airport.  Soon we were in Fruita, Colorado, Lorraine’s home, the base of operations for this high-level visit.  I began eating my way across Colorado with some Gardetto’s Snack Mix, one of my favorite things on this planet.  We busied ourselves with last minute preparations for Tyler, Victoria, and, of course, Michael.

Enjoying time on the patio with Bella.
Mother and daughter.

The morning of Thanksgiving Day we drove to the airport to pick up the newest members of our family, Victoria and Michael.  We quickly caught a glimpse of the proud papa, Tyler, carrying our very first grandchild, Michael.  We very happily saw, met, and hugged our new daughter-in-law Victoria too.  It was so nice to have them at the same place on Earth as Leslie and me.

Once we were back in Fruita, poor Michael was passed around like a rugby ball…well, we did not toss him around; but he certainly found his way to many people at the house!  Hillary and Shane stopped by so, now the only couple missing was great grandma and great grand pa Juvera.  That was remedied the next morning when they arrived at the airport.  Suddenly Michael had two more fans to whom he could be passed.

Grandma and Michael.
Great grandma and Michael…oh, and Bella.
And this grandpa loves this boy!!
Great grandma J.
Great grandpa J.
Asleep after a feeding.
Auntie and Michael playing like a boss!
Just a little tired.
Grandma holding her dear, sweet grandson.
Time for his close-up.
If one wants a good selfie, don’t let the grandpa take it!!
Father and son.
Auntie Hillary with her newest nephew, Michael.

Since everyone was finally together, Friday was Bolivian Santa day.  I had brought gifts from Bolivia for everyone.  There was Bolivian chocolate for each family.  The guys received wallets, alpaca socks, t-shirts, key chains, a refrigerator magnet, and a Marine Security Guard Detachment coin.  Everything was from Bolivia.  The women received hand-woven, baby alpaca shawls.  The remainder of Friday was spent visiting with all of our family.

It was also Ugly Christmas Sweater day.  Hillary had purchased ugly Christmas sweaters for all of us.  I set up the tripod and we captured the moments.

Gifts from Bolivia and the happy recipients.  These are mantillas or shawls.
The family reunion photo with ugly Christmas sweaters provided by Hillary. From left to right is Lorraine, Victoria, Tyler with Michael, Terry (your humble writer), Leslie, Hillary, Shane, Joleen, and Claude.
Great grandma Joleen and great grandpa Claude joined in the photo.
Great grandma Lorraine joined in the photo.
Grandpa and grandma with number one grandson, Michael.
Modeling our ugly Christmas sweaters…

Saturday was a day for more visiting with relatives.  Early that morning, Tyler, Victoria, and I stopped at the Aspen Street Coffee Company to get some go-juice.  Later in the day, Tyler and I went to the barn to sort through some of his stuff.  In one of the boxes he found his baby blanket!  That is now 25 years old!  It seemed strangely appropriate now that Michael is on the scene.

Inside the Aspen Street Coffee Company in Fruita, Colorado.
The proud papa displaying his newly discovered baby blanket from a quarter-century ago!

Just as important was the preparation of our Thanksgiving meal.  That evening, with all of us gathered around the table, I took the opportunity to take a selfie of the group.  It may not be the best photograph, but it will forever mean a lot to me.  Michael is just off camera in his bouncy chair.

The Thanksgiving feast!

On an evening trip through the town center of Fruita, I was struck by the beautiful Christmas lights on display.  I had never seen that before.

The Christmas lights in downtown Fruita, Colorado looking west.
The Christmas lights in downtown Fruita, Colorado looking east.
A Christmas bicycle in Fruita, Colorado.

Sunday morning, Leslie and I took great grandma and great grandpa Juvera back to the airport for their return to Colorado Springs.

One morning in Fruita, it was cold and foggy.  I looked outside and saw there was beautiful frost on nearly everything.  That meant it was a great time to go outside with my camera.

View of a fence post with frost in Fruita, Colorado.
Fog, fence, trees, and a paddock in Fruita, Colorado.
Fog, fence, and trees in Fruita, Colorado.
Detail of frost on a top-rail of a fence in Fruita, Colorado.
Frost on the top-rail of a fence in Fruita, Colorado.
Fog as seen through a very frosty and somewhat symmetrical gate in Fruita, Colorado.
Detail of a very frosty and somewhat symmetrical gate in Fruita, Colorado.
Looking toward a barn gate in Fruita, Colorado.
Another frosty plastic hay bale tie in Fruita, Colorado.
A frosty fence at a horse paddock in Fruita, Colorado.
Detail of frost on a plastic hay bale tie in Fruita, Colorado.
Frost on a plastic hay bale tie in Fruita, Colorado.
Frost on a fence and weed in Fruita, Colorado.
Frost on the bare branches of a globe willow in Fruita, Colorado.
Detail of frost on the bare branches of a globe willow in Fruita, Colorado.
A frosty water spigot in Fruita, Colorado.
Frost, fog, and trees in Fruita, Colorado.
Frost on an evergreen tree in Fruita, Colorado.
Detail of frost on an evergreen tree in Fruita, Colorado.

Once the fog lifted, one could see that the Colorado National Monument had received some snow.  I was very picturesque as seen from Fruita.

A view of snow on the Colorado National Monument.
Looking toward the Colorado National Monument, one can see the Independence Monument.
A closer view of the Independence Monument.

Since Victoria had never been to Colorado, we had to take her to the Colorado National Monument.  At the entry station, the ranger told us no Desert Bighorn Sheep had been spotted that day; however, we should stay alert.  There was a chance we might see some.

We drove up to the visitor center, stopping periodically to view sights from the various overlooks.  At the visitor center, we stopped to go inside and explore.  We also stepped out to the Canyon Rim Trail to look down into the adjoining canyon.

Looking across the Colorado River Valley from the Colorado National Monument.
Tyler and Victoria at the Colorado National Monument.
A jet passing by the Balanced Rock formation in the Colorado National Monument.
A closer view of the Balanced Rock in the Colorado National Monument.
Pointing the way to the Canyon Rim Trail near the visitor center in Colorado National Monument.
A view of a cliff from the Canyon Rim Trail overlook.
A twisted cedar tree in Colorado National Monument.
Detail of the sandstone bricks used in the construction of the visitor center in the Colorado National Monument.
A red sandstone cliff near the visitor center of the Colorado National Monument.

Back in the vehicle we continued toward the East Entrance to the Colorado National Monument.  I was driving and focused on the road.  Suddenly Leslie shouted there was a sheep along side the road!  Sure enough, a Desert Bighorn Sheep ewe was lying beside the road, casually chewing her cud.  I stopped immediately.  Tyler, Victoria, and I piled out to take photographs.  Just as we finished, I saw another vehicle approaching.  They were slowing to take photos just as we had done.

A Desert Bighorn Sheep along the road in the Colorado National Monument.
A closer view of the Desert Bighorn Sheep in the Colorado National Monument.
There was an inch or two of snow in places at the Colorado National Monument.
Looking across the canyon to the Canyon Rim Trail.
View of the Independence Monument from Otto’s trail head in the Colorado National Monument.
A closer view of the Independence Monument from Otto’s trail head in the Colorado National Monument. The Grand Mesa is in the distance.
Snow, cedar, and pines in the Colorado National Monument.
Mountains in the distance as seen from the Colorado National Monument.
Detail of a cedar tree in the Colorado National Monument.
A dead cedar tree in front of a Mormon Tea plant in the Colorado National Monument.
Independence Monument and the view looking north and west from the Colorado National Monument.
A closer view of Independence Monument in the Colorado National Monument. The town in the background is Fruita, Colorado.

Continuing our eastward journey, I was surprised at how much snow there was on the road.  By the time we got to the East Entrance, the road was completely dry.

When we left the Colorado National Monument, we called Hillary and Shane to tell them we were on the way to the Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita.  They met us there.  For the meager entry fee, a visit to the museum is a must if one is in the area.  The interpretive and interactive displays help put the prehistoric history of the area into perspective.

The truck outside the Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita, Colorado.
One of the displays in the Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita, Colorado.
In the Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita, Colorado. This is where the work of exposing fossils takes place.
A rather gruesome depiction of mealtime in the Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita, Colorado.
A depiction of a stegosaurus in the Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita, Colorado.

Our time in Fruita coincided with a full moon.  I was able to get a reasonably good photograph of the moon one night.  It reminded me of the photographs I took of the moon while we were stationed in Islamabad, Pakistan.

A full moon visible in Fruita, Colorado.

No trip to Fruita is complete without a visit to the Main Street Café in Grand Junction, Colorado.  When we go there, we always try to get the table that is in the display window.  The day we went, that table was open, so grabbed it quickly.  It had been eons since I had a milkshake.  I corrected that oversight with a strawberry milkshake.  It was absolutely everything I thought it would be!

Yep! That is a strawberry shake! You too can get one at the Main Street Cafe in Grand Junction, Colorado.
Ready for lunch at the Main Street Cafe in Grand Junction, Colorado.
He just finished his lunch at the Main Street Cafe in Grand Junction, Colorado.
A Marilyn Monroe advertisement in the Main Street Cafe in Grand Junction, Colorado.
One of the “window display” seating areas in the Main Street Cafe in Grand Junction, Colorado.
An art installation just outside of the Main Street Cafe in Grand Junction, Colorado. The cafe is visible in the background with the checkerboard sign.

After lunch, we walked along Main Street; stopping at the Main Street Minerals and Beads shop and then the Robin’s Nest Antiques and Treasures store.  That antique store is one of our favorite stops in downtown Grand Junction.

The Main Street Minerals & Beads shop in Grand Junction, Colorado.
The building housing the Main Street Minerals & Beads store in Grand Junction, Colorado dates from 1890.
Our favorite antique store in Grand Junction, Colorado. A Robin’s Nest of Antiques & Treasures.
A partial view of the Reed Building in Grand Junction, Colorado. It dates from 1908.
An artfully disguised utility box along Main Street in Grand Junction, Colorado.

Wednesday morning after Thanksgiving, I was up early as normal.  I could tell the sunrise was going to be good.  So once again, even though it was cold, I grabbed my camera and headed outside.  I think the results speak for themselves.

Looking across a paddock in Fruita, Colorado watching the sunrise.
A closer view of a lone tree in Fruita, Colorado during a sunrise. The Grand Mesa is visible in the distance.
A wider view across the paddock in Fruita, Colorado.
A lone tree in Fruita, Colorado silhouetted by the sunrise.
The sunrise was very pretty on this cold fall morning in Fruita, Colorado.
The home in Fruita, Colorado.
A globe willow tree in front of a barn in Fruita, Colorado.
Looking across a paddock in Fruita, Colorado toward the Colorado National Monument.

Later that morning we took Tyler, Victoria, and Michael to the airport so they could begin their 11-hour journey home.  They made it home about an hour late, but safe and sound.

When we returned from the airport, Leslie and I finished packing our baggage.  We were due to the leave Grand Junction the next morning.  We had so much stuff we actually had to ship some items to Bolivia to keep from having overweight baggage.

That next morning, we drove to the airport.  We left the vehicle in the parking lot for Lorraine and Hillary to retrieve later that morning.  We went inside the airport, checked-in, and went to our gate to await boarding.

We boarded and left on time.  It was a very smooth and uneventful flight to Dallas, Texas.

On final approach to the DFW airport in Dallas, Texas.

Once we were in Dallas, we had enough time to get breakfast at Chili’s.  It was particularly marginal, but it was food.

When we got to our gate, we only had a short wait before we boarded the American Airlines plane bound for Orlando, Florida.  Once again, that flight was comfortable and uneventful.  We had a row of three seats to ourselves, so we were able to spread out.

A happy passenger waiting to depart from DFW in Dallas, Texas.
While our plane was taxiing at DFW airport in Dallas, Texas, another plane was landing.
A runway marker at the DFW airport in Dallas, Texas. Our plane ultimately took off on runway 35L.
A Delta jet at the DFW airport beginning the takeoff roll.
The passengers on our plane at the DFW airport in Dallas, Texas waiting for the takeoff.
An American Airlines jet at the DFW airport in Dallas, Texas beginning its takeoff roll.
Another American Airlines jet at the DFW airport in Dallas, Texas beginning its takeoff roll.

The comfort ended at Orlando.  A wheelchair attendant was at the door of the plane to collect Leslie.  He pushed her to the desk at the gate, said he had to go clear the plane and left us there.  We did not quite understand that.  In all of our travels, once the wheelchair arrives, we are off to our next destination with no stops.

The young man finally returned and began walking with us down the concourse.  I asked to confirm that he knew where we were going.  He replied yes, to baggage claim such and such.  I said no, we had a connecting flight to Lima, Peru.  He stopped, checked his iPad and said we had to leave the secure area to check in with our carrier, Latam Airlines.  That was disheartening since I already knew how challenging the security screening was at Orlando.

Regardless, he got us to the Latam desk.  I showed our tickets to the woman at the counter.  She said we were all set and we could go to our gate.  Since Leslie and I had not originally planned to travel together, we had different itineraries.  That meant our seat assignments were not together.  I asked the woman if she could seat us together.  She flatly said no.  That surprised me.  She said we may be able to change seats at the gate.  I pointed out that Leslie needed assistance.  She told us to wait at a designated point and someone would take us to the gate shortly.

We waited at the designated spot for nearly ten minutes.  Finally, I asked another Latam employee how we were supposed to get to the gate.  Ultimately, they called someone and we began our journey to gate 82.

As we got to the security screening area, we entered the wheelchair assistance line.  I thought that meant we would be expedited through the line.  Boy was that an incorrect thought.  I could have sworn that some of the families in line wearing Disney World attire were the same families I had seen a week earlier.  Even though we were in a short and “fast” lane, it took an inordinate amount of time to get through security.

Departing security, our attendant got us to the gate reasonably quickly.  Just as we arrived, they started boarding.  By our way of reckoning, we just barely made it to our plane.

We boarded the plane.  Leslie took her seat at 18J, an aisle seat.  I continued to 26C, an aisle seat.  The boarding was rather chaotic.  I kept and eye on Leslie.  I saw the middle seat next to her remained open.  As it so happened, the middle seat next to me also remained open.  When it appeared boarding was complete, I asked one of the flight attendants if I could sit next to my wife.  She agreed, so we were able to sit together.

The flight from Orlando to Lima, Peru was uneventful, but lengthy.  At only about five and one-half hours, it was certainly not the longest flight we have taken, but it is still a long time to be cooped up in an aluminum cigar.  We eagerly awaited the in-flight service and a glass of wine…wait a minute…Latam airlines does not serve alcohol…what?!?!  We may never fly them again…

I was ever hopeful that when we arrived in Lima, we would have enough time to go to Fridays and get something to eat and drink…wrong.  The airport was extremely busy.  We made it to our next gate with about 20-minutes to spare.  The only good thing is I asked the gate attendant if Leslie and I could sit together.  She moved us to the front of the plan, row 2, and seated us side by side.

The pilot making preparations to depart Lima, Peru on the way to La Paz, Bolivia.

The flight from Lima to La Paz, Bolivia was one of our shorter flights.  We arrived in La Paz at about 03:15 Bolivian time.  One of the Embassy employees was there to meet us and help us through customs.  When we had retrieved our luggage and got in the vehicle, it was nearing 04:00.

Our driver selected the Autopista, a not-quite-finished highway.  WOW!  After taking that, if another driver ever asks if I want to take the Autopista or the Llojetta route, it will definitely be the Autopista!  It was much quicker, fewer hairpin turns, no speed bumps, and travel was at a reasonable speed.

We made it home at about 04:30, after nearly 24-hours of travel.  We had that long-awaited glass of wine and crashed into bed.  We were together and home!!

A Great Day for the Dead

La Paz, Bolivia – November 2, 2018

This was the first time I ever saw Dia de los Muertos first-hand.  I chose the La Paz Cementerio General for my visit.  I was a little apprehensive because of the unknown and the fact that I was going by myself.  Another reason for my apprehension was the odor.  One of my work colleagues told me there was a foul odor at the cemetery because the tombs were not air tight.  As an ex-cop, used to dealing with bodies that had, shall we say, “ripened,” I knew exactly what odor was being described.  Spoiler alert – I did not encounter any noxious odors at the cemetery.

Dia de los Muertos (the day of the dead) is a traditional holiday in many Latin American countries.  It is a day for remembering a family’s dead; but, more importantly, it is a time of celebrating the family members return from the afterlife for a visit.  To that end, there are many offerings made by the family to entice the family member to visit and then to ease their return to the afterlife.  The visits are expected between noon on November 2 and noon on November 3; however, those times are not rigid.

A family can expect visits at either the tomb or grave of their loved one or at the family’s own home.  In either location, family members place photographs and other items which the dearly departed loved during life.  Additionally, things the loved one liked to eat or drink are also laid out as offerings.  Those items can include bread, cookies, sweets, food, soup, soft drinks, beer, alcohol, cigarettes, etc.; virtually anything the loved one enjoyed.

The bread used for the Dia de los Muertos is interesting because of its many variations.  One of the more popular shapes is the t’antawawa, an Aymara word meaning baby bread.  A t’antawawa is in the approximate shape of a baby’s body with a painted, ceramic face/head.  They can range in size from very small breads or cookies, to nearly adult life-size.  The bread can also be in the shape of animals such as horses.  Other bread shapes include the traditional dinner roll size, round loaves, ladders (to aid with travel to and from the afterlife), and crosses.  It appears the shape is only limited by the maker’s imagination.

A work colleague shared with me that when setting up the offerings at home, their place of choice; they receive as many as 150 family members (living) over the course of the holiday.  That is a lot of people to just have drop by a home.

With that bit of preface, allow me to share my experience of Dia de los Muertos.

I walked out my front door at 07:00.  Green, Sky Blue, White, Orange, and Red.  Those colors have nothing to do with the holiday nor are they colors I saw when I walked outside.  Those colors just happened to be the five; that is correct, five, Teleferico lines I had to ride in order to get to the Cementario General.

While on the Orange Line of the Teleferico, I passed over the “illegal” cemetery, Cementerio la Llamita.  I do not know if it is in fact an illegal cemetery.  If it is illegal, by deduction, that means that the regulations for burial are less strictly enforced.  Therefore, it is such “illegal” cemeteries that may be the cause of my colleague’s comment regarding odor.  I quickly tried to make a photograph which is why the focus is not quite spot on.

A partial view of the “illegal” cemetery as seen from the Orange Line of the Teleferico.

At the end of the Orange Line, I changed to the Red Line.  I only had one stop to go to be at the Cementerio General.  I got off the Red Line and walked out of the Teleferico building.  I noticed right across the street was an entrance to the cemetery.  I do not believe that entrance is normally in use, just on special days.  Approaching the entrance, I saw a few small flower stands.  Many cemetery visitors stopped to buy some flowers before entering.

A secondary entry to the Cementerio General (General Cemetery) in the northwest portion of La Paz.

The Cementerio General is the main, and quite large, cemetery in La Paz.  The exterior wall of the cemetery is nearly 1.5 kilometers long (4,389 feet or 0.83 mile).  That means the area covered by the cemetery is nearly 10 hectares (24 acres).  On the grounds there are dozens and dozens of columbaria, some with as many as three levels.  The “population” of the cemetery must be in the tens of thousands.

At the gate, Bolivian National Police searched the bags of everyone entering.  As soon as I made it past that checkpoint, I faced multiple columbaria.  At the end of the columbarium closest to me I saw a mural with two painted skulls.  Then I noticed that nearly every columbarium had a mural on the end, even the columbaria that had three levels.  Much of the art was stunning.  I did not photograph every mural, but I did capture a lot.  At this point, the narrative will cease so the reader can view all of the murals I captured.  At the end of the mural photographs, the narrative continues.

My first view of artwork on the end of a columbarium at the Cementerio General. The artist is Ñatinta, completed in 2017. The other name appears to be Llukutter.
A skull mural at the end of cuartel (barrack) 53. This one is also by Ñatinta, completed in 2016. The other name appears to be S. Cuello.
The artist of this mural appears to be Tuer. The work appears to have been completed in 2018.
An intricate design surrounding a skull. This was done by Osek. It appears to have been completed in 2018.
Psychedelic skulls by Nando Pantoja and Angela in 2018.
A skull of a cholita by Pez Dani, probably 2018.
A collection of colorful flowers and plants, possibly by Tekaz. It was probably completed in 2018.
This work shows singers serenading at the tomb of a young man. Note the t’antawawa’s below the young man’s face. The style seems reminiscent of Picasso’s Guernica. It is possibly by TViore in 2017.
A woman and a young child by an unknown artist.
Some of the largest artwork at the Cementerio General is logically located at the end of the three-story columbaria.
This cholita and skull appears to be done by JP Zdas.
This portrait is by Ricardo Akn in 2018.
She seems to be watching all those who approach.
This three-story piece is done by an unknown artist.
Another psychedelic skull by Ñatinta in 2017.
The banner reads, “no tears for the final rest.” At the very bottom, it reads, “for all of the saints who rest in La Paz.” The artist’s initials appear to be TZV.
Angels with skulls and barbed wire halos. The artist is unknown.
A young person with flowers. The artist is possibly Stfil.
An unusual design by Tekaz.
A stylistic skull surrounded by what appear to be cocoa leaves. The artist is Boos.
Flowers at the end of a columbarium by Ciclope.
A heart. The bottom reads, “the measure of life.” The artist is JP.
A skull at the end of a columbarium. The artist is Decoma.
A neon cholita. The artists are Huyllas and Natinta, done in 2018. The bottom left reads, “your voice will not be erased…my little soul.”
Another flower arrangement by Tekaz.
Some stylized coyotes. The artist is unknown because the name is partially obscured by the ladders.
Another view of the psychedelic skulls by Nando Pantoja and Angela in 2018.
Removing a mask by Mamo and Ñatinta from 2017.
Above this woman’s face are the words to a song often sung during the All Saints celebration. The artist is Willka in 2018.
Flowers growing from a bird held by a woman. The artist is Giova in 2018.
A skull with sunglasses and a hat. The word that continues from one columbarium to the other reads, “perpetual.” The artist is Ñatinta from 2016.
A child playing a violin. The artist is la Gabu.Z.
A zintangle woman? The artist is Nona.
A Bolivian astronaut skull. The artist is unknown.
A blue skull. The artist is Alme in 2018.
Birds and a stylized face. The artist is unknown.
A cholita skull complete with the traditional braids. The artist is BLK from 2015.
A cholita from 2017. The artist is unknown.
Three couples from 2016. The artist is unknown.
A contemporary view of children/teens from 2016. The artists are Bufón81 and Afta17.
A young person’s memories of La Paz from 2017. The artist is Bufón81.
Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The artist is unknown.
A stylized angel embracing a woman above a woman on a bed of skulls. The artist is unknown.
A landscape. The artist is unknown.
A blue skull and candles. The artist is unknown.
A mummy with an apple. The artist is unknown.

Some of the above photograph captions contain the word “cholita.”  That deserves some explanation.  Cholita refers to the women of the indigenous Aymara and Quechua tribes.  In the not too distant past, cholita was a pejorative term.  However, today it has regained a certain popularity and resurgence in use.  The cholitas are very distinctive with their bowler hats and long hair braids.

Looking down the aisles between the columbaria, I could see far into the distance.  They seemed to go on forever.  The columbaria here in La Paz look much different than those one might see in the United States.  In the U. S. each tomb is covered by an engraved headstone bearing the name and pertinent details of the person in the tomb.  In the Cementerio General, each tomb has a glass door, usually with a small padlock.  Behind the glass is a void of some eight to ten inches before the masonry seal on the tomb.  On the masonry seal is the name and pertinent details of the person in the tomb.  Often the details include a photograph of the person.  The remainder of the void is filled by offerings or representative items of things the person enjoyed in life.  In some instances, there are metal holders on either side for vases of flowers.

Several very large columbaria vanish into the distance.
The inscription above this tomb reads “Dear Dad.” The offerings inside are things the deceased enjoyed; in this case, bread, cigarettes, Coca-Cola, and a clear beverage.
This father was obviously a huge Bolivar fan.  Bolivar is a professional futbol team in Bolivia.
A man on a ladder tending to the tomb of a loved one.

The tallest, single-story columbaria I saw contained tombs seven high.  Visiting family must use ladders to reach the higher tombs.  With the aid of the ladder, family open the glass door, remove dead flowers and old offerings.  Once clean, new offerings are placed into the tomb and the glass door closed.

A view to the east from the Bolivian Police columbarium.
Several empty tombs at the Bolivian Police columbarium.
Looking to the west atop the Bolivian Police columbarium.
A unique cross placement on a columbaria.

To place a loved one in a tomb at Cementerio General, there is an initial fee and then annual fees thereafter.  If the annual fees are not paid, after a period of about three years, the remains are removed, cremated, and dealt with by cemetery personnel.

I did see a few graves in the ground with headstones, but that was by far the exception, not the rule.  The columbaria were definitely the norm within the Cementerio General.

I ultimately made my way to the main entrance of the cemetery.  That is where the church is located.  The church was nice inside, but it was not ornately decorated.  Of particular note were the statue of the Virgin Mary and the Baby Jesus and another area with a depiction of Jesus in the tomb.

View toward the altar of the church in the Cementerio General.
A statue of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus in the church at the Cementario General.  The statue is known as the Viren de Copacabana.
A stained glass cross on the west side of the church at the Cementario General.
A depiction of Jesus in the tomb in the church in the Cementerio General.

Leaving the church, I saw a display containing many of the items that families might bring to the tombs of their loved ones.  I was immediately drawn to the t’antawawas, probably because I had been given a t’antawawa cookie the day before by a work colleague.  Those on display ranged from cookie-size to some made of bread that were approaching three-feet in length.  At the display, there was even a t’antawawa made in the shape of a horse.  There were other bread designs including one that reminded me of a huge pretzel, bread crosses, and bread ladders.  The display was partially framed by very large onion plants.  Those and large sugar cane stalks are often used by the families as decorations at the tombs.

A display of some typical items brought to the tombs of the departed in the Cementerio General.
The display of offerings is locate just outside the church in the Cementerio General.
A detail of some of the offerings typically brought to the cemetery. Note the t’antawawas on either side of the cross. Also note the t’antawawa in the shape of a horse in the upper left.
The offerings can also include beverages and food.

I sat down at a bench near the display.  I stayed there for quite a while, watching the people streaming into the cemetery.  Many of them stopped to view the display, some even taking photographs like I did.  Others merely walked on by, destined for the family tomb.  While I sat there, I saw a couple of men dressed in medium blue clothing wearing hard hats.  One in particular made frequent eye contact with me.  It dawned on me that they were probably masons, available for hire by the families to make any needed repairs to tombs.  I ultimately approached one of the men.  He confirmed he was in fact a mason.  He was waiting to be hired by an incoming family.  He was kind enough to allow me to make his photograph.  Unfortunately, I was not thinking, so I failed to get his name.  Regardless, he was very nice.

Since this was at a main entry point, many people stopped to view the display of offerings.
People looking at the display.
Some people simply walked by the display without stopping to look.
The Bolivian Police checked all packages at the entry points to the Cementerio General.
This mason was kind enough to allow me to make his photograph. I neglected to ask his name.

After my rest on the bench, I continued walking through the cemetery.  I did find a large map of the grounds.  It is truly astonishing just how many columbaria are at the cemetery.

A map of the Cementerio General.

In the eastern portion of the cemetery I noticed several tombs that had QR codes.  If one captures the code with a smartphone, information about the person buried there is displayed.  I did not do that, but I did come across two very large tombs that were obviously of revered Bolivians.  The first was the tomb of Carlos Palenque Avilés, 1944 – 1997.  He was a famous Bolivian singer and politician.  The second large tomb was that of Germán Busch Becerra, 1903 – 1939.  He was a military officer and ultimately a President of Bolivia.

The tomb of Carlos Palenque Avilés in the Cementerio General.
The tomb and monument to Germán Busch Becerra.
A mausoleum in the Cementerio General.
A columbarium with an angel statue in the Cementerio General.
These columbaria do not seem to be so crowded.
The columbarium at the rear reads, “Union Workers Welfare Society, founded on the first of May, 1909.
Two people carrying a ladder while the Teleferico moves nonstop overhead.
An art deco styled angel in the Cementerio General.
Stained glass crosses at a mausoleum In the Cementerio General.
The oldest tomb I saw in the Cementerio General. Note the QR code in the lower right.
A columbarium with high-ranking Bolivian army officers in the Cementerio General.
Various sizes of ladders propped up beside a columbarium in the Cementerio General.
Ladders are strategically placed throughout the Cementerio General.

I found a mausoleum dedicated to those that had fought in the Acre Campaigns.  That was a border dispute between Bolivia and Brazil at the turn of the 20th Century.  Bolivia was the victor in the fighting.

The exterior of the columbarium for the Benefit Society of the Country for those in the Acre Campaigns.
The interior of the columbarium for the Benefit Society of the Country for those in the Acre Campaigns.
Stairs leading to more columbaria.
The columbaria seem to stretch on forever.
Ladders at the ready at the end of a columbarium.
A small, tiled columbarium.
The access alleys to the columbaria begin to fill up with people.
The sun coming over the edge of the roof of a columbarium seems to beckon one to heaven.
Looking through the ground floor level of a three-story columbarium.
The mausoleum of the Dr. Abigail Mendoza family.
The stained glass of Mary and Baby Jesus in the mausoleum of the Dr. Abigail Mendoza family.
Detail of the stained glass of Mary and Baby Jesus in the mausoleum of the Dr. Abigail Mendoza family.

In all of my wanderings in the cemetery, I never saw any sadness.  I never saw any family members weeping.  The Dia de los Muertos seemed to be a more joyous than sad occasion.  I did find out that families can hire people to cry at the tomb.  I did not personally witness that.  However, I did see families that hired musicians to play and sing at the tombs.  One of the more noteworthy groups were about 10 boys playing drums and Bolivian pan flutes.  They really did a good job and amassed quite a crowd of onlookers.  I did come across another group of boys with drums, but they did not seem to be as polished.  In fact, a woman walking by the group actually covered her ears.

A group of young boys performing at a tomb in the Cementerio General.
The group of boys performed in front of a tomb bedecked with offerings of bread, fruit, and drink.
One woman’s music is another woman’s noise.

During my walk, I stopped at one point when I saw a man and his young son.  The man was struggling with one of the ladders.  I asked him if he needed assistance.  He politely declined.

A man and his son renting a ladder.
A mausoleum in the Cementerio General.
One of the more narrow areas between columbaria.
There never seemed to be a shortage of ladders.
A young girl running around while musicians are playing in front of a tomb.
A woman taking a selfie atop the ladder in front of her loved one’s tomb.
Women working together to clean out a tomb in preparation for newly placed offerings.
The offerings consisted of bread, t’antawawas, onions, fruit, and a drink in a thermos.
Another of the endless aisles of columbaria.
A family preparing to go up the ladder with some offerings.

Strategically placed throughout the cemetery are sinks and water spigots.  The visitors use these stations to clean items from their loved one’s tomb.  Most often the items cleaned are flower vases.  Near each sink are rubbish bins in which the old flowers are placed.  Workers come by periodically to police the area and take the rubbish to large 30-yard trash bins.  In turn, those are removed from the cemetery by large trucks from the local trash service.

People washing vases while an employee collects the discarded flowers.
Discarded flowers were everywhere.
A man and a mason discussing needed repairs at a tomb.
Ladders at the ready.
A mason with his tools of the trade rounding the corner.
A woman waiting beside a ladder.
Walking to the tomb with offerings.
A woman walking with bags of offerings.

After all of my wanderings in the cemetery, I decided it was time to head home.  I walked to the main entry to the cemetery.  Not far from there was an exit.  As I walked onto Avenida Baptista I noticed the street was closed for the holiday.  There was a real carnival atmosphere.  One of the first things I saw was an art deco building that reminded me of a building in Wellington, New Zealand (see the posting Wellington Museum).

This art deco style building is across the street from the Cementerio General.
Avenida Baptista on the front side of the Cementerio General.

There were a couple of zebras walking on the sidewalk.  The zebras are actually people in costume.  The La Paz Zebras were born as a way to help regulate traffic and avoid pedestrian/vehicle mishaps.  The Zebras have been around since 2001.  As I walked past, they both said buenas dias!

A rare sighting of two Zebras in front of the Cementerio General.

One of the streets heading off from Avenida Baptista had what seemed like dozens of stands of BBQ and other delicious smelling foods.  I wanted to try some, but I did not since Mr. E. Coli had just visited me.  While on that street, I ran into a shoe shiner.  Many of the shoe shiners keep their faces covered because they do not want their friends and family to know that is what they do to earn money.

Directly across from the main entry to the cemetery is a small mall with nothing but flower shops.  While I was there it was doing a booming business.

A panorama of Avenida Baptista in front of the Cementerio General.
Two women walking toward the Cementerio General.
The young man in the light blue jacket is a shoe shiner.
Some flowers for sale across from some wonderful smelling BBQ.
The main entry to the Cementerio General.
The church framed by the entry arch.
Part of the flower market directly across the street from the Cementerio General.
People walking by Rebecca’s Flower Shop.

I began walking east along Avenida Baptista.  Luckily, it was all downhill so I did not have to grapple with gravity very much.  As I noted above, the street was closed to traffic.  Instead of vehicles, the street was packed with vendors of every ilk; ladies’ lingerie, plasticware for children, handmade wooden items, DVDs, ice cream, fruit, etc.  It was varied and noisy as some vendors shouted out what was available.  The parts of the street that were not covered by vendors were choked by pedestrians.  I can only imagine the scene later in the day when it would no doubt be busier.

An interesting looking building on Avenida Baptista.
Selling colorful plasticware for children.
A woman selling watermelon slices.
A man and his ice cream cart.
A woman waiting to make an ice cream cone for the man and his daughter.
A cholita perusing the wares.
A girl in a red dress.
A cholita walking through the market.
A woman and young girl in the market.
Strolling through the market.
A young woman donning her hat.

At the Garita de Lima park roundabout, I stopped to take in the sights.  That is where I saw the Evangelical Baptist Church and the Hospital La Paz.

Two artificial flower vendors at the street market.
A view downhill from the roundabout at the Garita de Lima park on Avenida Baptista.
The Evangelical Baptist Church across from the Garita de Lima park on Avenida Baptista.

Departing the Garita de Lima park roundabout on Max Paredes, I saw something that very much reminded me of home, the kitchen gadget salesman.  A man set up a portable table in the street.  The edges of the table top held about four dozen oranges.  In the middle of the table there was a pile of different colored plastic gadgets.  The salesman, speaking loudly and rapidly, demonstrated how one could insert the gadget into an orange and easily obtain the juice.  He had several people standing around watching his demonstration.  I am not sure if he sold any to that crowd.

A juicing device salesman on Max Paredes.
The street market met vehicles just east of the Garita de Lima park on Max Paredes.
The mix of vehicles and pedestrians on Max Paredes. Note the van has the Cementerio General as one of its destinations.
It is tight quarters walking this section of Max Paredes.

Shortly after passing the kitchen gadget salesman, the street opened to traffic once again.  At that point of Max Paredes, there were still vendors; however, they were relegated to the sidewalk or curbside.  This area is where the food market begins.  It is set up in specific sections.  There are sections for vendors selling fruits, vegetables, cooking spices, lentils, fish, and meat.  There were even a couple of fabric vendors thrown in for good measure.  Between the vendors, pedestrians, and vehicles, one has to really be careful while walking.

A vegetable stand on Max Paredes.
The vendor points and provides answers to a patron’s questions.
This woman was advertising in a loud voice what she had for sale.
Various cooking spices for sale.
A woman preparing a fish for a customer.
A woman at a meat stand along Max Paredes.
Another fish stand on Max Paredes.
Meat for the carnivore.
Yet more meat available near the Max Paredes roundabout.
Women selling lentils along Max Paredes.
Waiting for a customer.
The fruit section of the Max Paredes market.
A cholita walking through the fruit section.
All the bananas one could possibly want.
The vendor tried to entice the young girl with the dog to buy some bananas.
A cholita at a fruit stand on Max Paredes.
The fabric section of the market on Max Paredes.
One of the many Dodge buses operating in La Paz.
This bus is known as The Prince.
This bus is known as Crazy Boy.
The statue in the roundabout at Max Paredes.

After walking nearly a mile (1.3 kilometers), I found Sagarnaga, the street for which I had been searching.  That street would take me to the Witches Market and the Basilica of San Francisco.  I was quite happy that my walk all the way from the cemetery to the Basilica was downhill.

In the Witches Market, I did a little shopping.  I found several touristy items that I could just not live without.

The point where Sagarnaga narrows.
The cobblestone Sagarnaga descends to the San Francisco Basilica.
An old building on Sagarnaga.
Sagarnaga continues downhill from the Witches Market.
Traffic and pedestrians share Linares.
A yarn covered light-pole in the Witches Market.
A taxi preparing to turn from Melchor Jimenez onto Linares in the Witches Market.
A newly completed mural on Melchor Jimenez in the Witches Market. The artist is Tikay Marsh Aner.
Searching for bargains in the Witches Market.
A llama mural in the Witches Market. The artists are Sebollin, Jonatan, Marbot, and Ahau Flamma.
A display of items for sale in the Witches Market.
A typical tourist shop in the Witches Market.
A mural in the Witches Market. The artist is unknown.

When I finished shopping, it was lunch time.  I was not really that hungry, but I did want to sit down for a while.  I found Luna’s Restaurant Coffee Pub.  I asked the man that greeted me at the door if he had cold beer.  He said he did so I immediately sat down!  I continued to talk to him as he came by my table intermittently.  I discovered he was Tomas Luna, the owner.  We had a nice conversation.  He was kind enough to allow me to make his photograph.

While sitting at Luna’s, I received two unexpected “guests;” Hillary and Leslie.  They called me.  They were both anxious to hear about my Dia de los Muertos activities.  I told them a little bit, but added that they would have to wait for my blog to get the rest of the story.

An ice cold Paceña cerveza at Luna’s Restaurant Coffee Pub.
Tomas Luna, the owner of Luna’s Restaurant Coffee Pub.
Luna’s Restaurant Coffee Pub.
Unexpected guests while I was having my beer.
Tomas Luna, the owner of Luna’s Restaurant Coffee Pub.
The owner at the door to his restaurant, Tomas Luna.
San Francisco Basilica is visible in the distance.
Street level view of a passing van.
Sagarnaga was virtually empty because of the holiday.

From Luna’s, it was just a few blocks down to the Basilica San Francisco.  The last time I was there it was after my CLO walking tour (see the Witches Market post).  That time, the Basilica was not open.  This time, to my surprise, it was open.  I walked inside.  Immediately I saw some very large signs.  I thought they said that one was prohibited from taking photographs during mass.  A mass was in progress, but I could tell it was at the very end.  I heard the priest give the final blessing and the people responded.

Soon the people were walking to the back of the Basilica to exit.  That is when I began taking photographs of the very intricate and beautiful altar.  After about four or five clicks, I suddenly found myself in the company of a Bolivian National Policeman.  He was not amused.  He said something in Spanish and pointed furtively to one of the signs.  In my best Spanish, I tried to tell him I thought I could take photos when mass was over.  He simply pointed at the sign again.  I said I was very sorry and beat a hasty retreat to the exit.

The altar at San Francisco Basilica.
The altar at the San Francisco Basilica.
The choir loft at the rear of the San Francisco Basilica.

The last portion of my journey was several blocks downhill from the Basilica to the Light Blue line of the Teleferico.  Between that line and the Green line, I made it back to my neck of the woods and ultimately home.  I arrived at my house at about 14:00.

A mural at the Mercado Camacho near the Celeste Line of the Teleferico.

Next year, I will return to the cemetery.  I will probably go at a different time to see how that may change my experience.  I thoroughly enjoyed my day.

A skull along via 33. The artist appears to be Zamir. The brilliant color indicates it was completed in 2018.

Witches Market

La Paz, Bolivia – September 4, 2018

After ten days of living in La Paz, Bolivia at 11,180 feet (3,404 meters), it was time to bring my lungs on a walking tour of parts of the city.  The Community Liaison Officer (CLO) organized a walking tour on the Labor Day holiday.

About 20 people met at the U. S. Embassy to begin the adventure.  A station on the light blue line of the Teleférico (Linea Celeste) was a little more than a block beyond the starting point.  It took several gondolas to get the group to the end of the light blue line.  Once at the end, the group transferred to the orange line (Linea Naranja).

The orange line “flies” quite high above the never-ending city of La Paz.  The views of the town are stunning.  It is amazing to see just how many homes and businesses are packed into an area delimited by steep hills and cliffs.  It seems one can look in any direction and see hundreds and hundreds of red brick structures clinging to any area of soil that looks as though it may support a structure.  Some look rather doubtful, but that does not seem to deter the owners and builders.

The density of La Paz is like no city I have seen.
View from the orange line of the Teleferico.

In our direction of travel, the orange line drops passengers off near the old train depot.  While it is still known as the train depot, no trains originate from the depot.  For some reason, service was suspended years ago.  The only remnants today are the old building and a couple of train cars sitting on display on tracks that lead nowhere.

The orange line of the Teleferico deposits one near the La Paz train station, seen here in the background.

Departing the orange line terminus, the group walked along Avenida Buenos Aires.  In front of a building under construction, there were a half-dozen burros.  It is uncertain for what they were being used or whether there are others in the city.  These are the only burros I have personally seen here.

Burros at the side of Avenida Buenos Aires.

A few bends along the Avenida later, CLO announced we were at our first destination.  The destination was not readily apparent.  CLO pointed to a wee opening off the side of the road and proclaimed, “There is the entry to Uyustus Market (Mercado Uyustus).”  At first sight, it did not appear that it was an entry to anything.  But, sure enough, once through the entry, one found all sorts of shops on both sides of a very small aisle.  The aisle could not have been more than three feet wide.  Regardless, it was open to travel in either direction.  There were not many people at the market when we arrived.  In fact, several of the shops were not yet open.  Some experienced people in the group said the aisle was very difficult to traverse when all the shops are open and the market is packed.

The narrow slit between the white tarp and the yellow/orange shop is the entry to the Uyustus Market.

Walking through the market, one passes numerous shops.  Some of the shops are no more than a stall about eight feet by eight feet (2.4 meters by 2.4 meters).  One can buy shoes, backpacks, cosmetics, underwear, shirts, pants, electronics, household appliances and more.  Every now and then there was a small opening between shops.  Walking through those, one entered the ground floor of the buildings which line the street.  That was an entirely other maze of shops offering everything one can imagine.  If an item cannot be found at Uyustus Market, it is not something one needs anyway.

A quarter-mile (434 meters) up the market road, thankfully at the end of the upward march, both my lungs began to complain about the 12,300-foot (3,749 meter) elevation.  I was happy to stand still and search for usable atoms of oxygen while my companions looked for bargains.  Looking up, I saw the tangled mess that delivers power, cable TV, and telephone.  I am not sure how one could possibly decipher where to begin if one of the utilities stopped working at a nearby home.

Above the ground floor shops were another four or five floors of apartments.  Probably 95 percent of the buildings appear to be unfinished.  In other words, the exterior is frequently just red brick.  The interiors are finished and certainly livable.  One Bolivian told me there is no sense in making the exterior walls “pretty.”  They are outside.

View of the Uyustus Market.
This mannequin must have been five percent off…
Typical apartment homes above the ground level shops.
The main portion of Uyustus Market is quite crowded.

Soon it was time to walk back downhill toward Avenida Buenos Aires; hooray!!

In the middle of Calle Uyustus was a sleeping dog.  Since this is a market street, the majority of the traffic is pedestrian.  The dog was unfazed by any of the activity.  On that note, there thousands of dogs roaming throughout the city.  Some are simply turned out by their owners for the day.  Regardless, it makes walking dangerous.  Not because of packs of dogs growling at passersby, but because of the “gifts” left behind by the dogs.  Picking up dog feces does not appear to be in vogue in La Paz.  Therefore, when walking, one has to be constantly aware lest one acquire an odorous gift on the bottom of one’s shoe.

Let sleeping dogs lie…

I am reminded of our time in Madrid.  While living there, the city faced a similar problem of people not picking up after their dogs.  The city’s campaign designed to turn the problem around was simple.  They put up signs throughout the city that simply stated; bolsa caca.  Loosely translated, it means bag the crap!  Maybe a similar campaign could gain traction in La Paz.

The other hazard when walking in La Paz is uneven terrain and holes.  By uneven terrain, it is not a reference to the larger terrain of the steep hills and cliffs; but, rather the sidewalks and streets.  There are any number of trip hazards in every few yards or meters one travels.  It is unsafe to walk and look about at the sights.  It is much safer to pay attention to the path to ensure one does not encounter holes, unexpected curbs, sudden inclines or declines, and the occasional dog gift.  If one wishes to see the sights it is best to cease walking and then look.

Back on Avenida Buenos Aires, it is amazing to see the amount of vehicle and pedestrian traffic.  Often the vehicles and the humans are separated by mere centimeters.  Luckily, there were no mishaps spotted.

A Dodge bus on Avenida Buenos Aires.
A red Ford bus on Avenida Buenos Aires.
An approaching Dodge bus that was just not quite as fancy as the first.
A family of three on a moped on Avenida Buenos Aires.
Literally, a little old lady walking along Avenida Buenos Aires.
A Bolivian woman wearing the traditional bowler hat.
Some nuns in the back of a minivan.

On the way to the Witches Market, we walked through yet another market.  This was along Pasaje el Rosario.  There were many shops open; however, it was not overly crowded with people.  It is interesting that there are so many shops in the area.  They seem to be sectioned off, for example, one area deals primarily in sewing and knitting supplies.  Another area features mainly electronics and appliances while another deals in aquariums and aquarium supplies.

Another small market on Pasaje el Rosario.
There are many things in the market competing for one’s attention.
A Bolivian woman in a bowler tending to a shop in along Pasaje el Rosario.

We walked into another such area, the “Home Depot.”  This street has every type of hardware or hardware related item one can imagine.  There is a similar area near where I live.  The road on which the shops are located is an active road.  It is a one-way road.  The vehicles have to negotiate with the shoppers while also being inconvenienced by a vehicle stopping to take on a large load of something.  That sets off the horns on the other vehicles for blocks.

A portion of the road, Isaac Tamayo, is the local “Home Depot” of this area of La Paz.

Not long after the “Home Depot” we made it to Calle Sagarnaga.  That meant we were very close to the Witches Market (Mercado de las Brujas).  Finally, at the intersection of Calle Sagarnaga and Calle Linares, we found ourselves in the middle of the Witches Market.  Apparently, the market is so named because in addition to selling the normal tourist fare, one can also buy many spells and potions.  I did not buy any tourist items or potions, preferring to defer my purchases until I return with Leslie and Lorraine.  However, upon my return, I doubt any potions will find their way into my shopping bag.

View north along Calle Sagarnaga toward San Francisco Basilica.
The intersection of Calle Sagarnaga and Calle Linares.
Bolivian women tending a street shop in the Witches Market area of La Paz.
In the Witches Market, looking south along Calle Linares.
The entry to the inti-illimani shop in the Witches Market.
Entry point to another area of the Witches Market along Calle Melchor Jimenez.
A woman waling along Calle Linares.
One of the very colorful street displays found throughout the Witches Market.

About an hour of shopping later, the group met for lunch at a Cuban restaurant.  I opted to not join the group.  I had to return to San Miguel to go to the Tigo store.

I walked down Sagarnaga toward the San Francisco Basilica.  I would have liked to have gone in, but I had to keep my errand in mind.  Walking from the basilica to the Teleférico, I caught several glimpses of Mount Illimani.  That mountain is about 21,122 feet (6,438 meters) high.  It is visible from many of the higher points of La Paz; including from the Teleférico.

The main entry to the San Francisco Basilica.
Mount Illimani in the distance.
Riding on the light blue (Linea Celeste) of the Teleferico, apparently destined to Mount Illimani.

I still had to settle my bill for cable and internet after the previous facility manager departed.  I took the Teleférico back to the end of the green line.  From there I taxied to Tigo.  Once my bill was handled, I decided to walk home.  As I walked, I passed a dentist office.  It was obvious they were trying to use a clever combination of the words teeth and health.  Unfortunately, on retrospect, maybe the “H” should have been lowercase…I’m just sayin’.

Maybe the “H” should have been lowercase too…
Even though the city is so dense, there is new construction nearly everywhere one looks.
Looking down and to the east along Calle Uyustus.
Near the top of Uyustus Market. The light pole seems to be a starting place for electrical, cable, and telephone spaghetti.
Walking back down to the main portion of Uyustus Market.
Nearly back to Avenida Buenos Aires.
Buses traveling up Max Paredes.
People mix freely, but cautiously, with the traffic.
A paint store at the intersection of Calle Sagarnaga and Avenida Illampu.
Pedestrians able to cross the intersection.
Walking down Calle Sagarnaga to the north, toward the Witches Market.
A partial view of the Plaza Major de San Francisco. The traffic jam is on Avenida Mariscal Santa Cruz.
The bell tower of the San Francisco Basilica.
Looking to the southeast beyond the Plaza del Obelisco, following Avenida Camacho, one can see Mount Illimani in the distance.
Pedestrians waiting to cross the street.
From a bridge on Calle Bueno, looking to the southeast along the light blue line of the Teleferico. Mount Illimani is covered with a few clouds.  Note the Batman and Wonder Woman restroom sign.
Marvelous La Paz.
The Marvelous La Paz sign visible in the City Park.
The Linea Celeste drops in elevation to the point that one can no longer see Mount Illimani.
Departing the next to last station on the Teleferico Linea Celeste.
Preparing to pass under the bridge.
From the last station on the green line of the Teleferico looking back toward the northwest.

Wellington Museum

Wellington, New Zealand – June 28, 2018

I wanted to visit the Wellington Museum.  For some reason, the timing never seemed to be right.  That changed yesterday.

Leslie and I walked to the train station near our home and rode the light rail to the main Wellington railway station.  Exiting the train, we walked to the waterfront and then essentially south toward the museum.  Just prior to gaining the waterfront, I stopped to photograph the Hotel Waterloo building.  Finished in 1937, the building has a definite art deco style.  It is one of several art deco style buildings in the Wellington CBD.

The Hotel Waterloo building. It dates from 1937.

The first business we walked by was MADINZ.  It is a store selling New Zealand tourist items and collectables.  What actually caught our eye were the two shih tzu dogs inside by the front door.  When we walked in, the younger of the two, Oscar, became very excited.  Leslie stopped and petted Oscar.  As we began to wander around the store, the dog settled down.  The items for sale were very high quality.  We did not buy anything only because we already have a lot of New Zealand mementos.

As we walked farther, we came to the building at 1 Queen’s Wharf.  It is an old harbor office building dating from 1896.  Maybe the most well-known business there today is the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts.  We did walk in and take a quick look at the items on display at the Academy.  We did not spend much time because much of what we saw was too modern for our taste.

The building at 1 Queen’s Wharf. It dates from 1896.

At the south end of 1 Queen’s Wharf, in between that building and the Wellington Museum, one can see a set of entry gates to the wharf area.  The gates date from 1899.  I found the seal on the gate to be quite whimsical.

The 1899 gates to the Queen’s Wharf area.

Finally, we had reached our goal; the Wellington Museum.  The museum is in the 1892 Wellington Harbour Board Head Office and Bond Store.  It is a Victorian style building designed by the same architect as 1 Queen’s Wharf.  The bond store was a warehouse that stored goods imported to New Zealand as the customs fees and paperwork process was complete.

The Wellington Museum. The Bond Store dates from 1892.

As with so many of the museums in this country there is no set entry fee.  There is simply a place to leave a donation.  The quaint museum does a very good job of taking one through the maritime history of Wellington from the mid-to-late nineteenth century up to today.

The ground floor houses exhibits in a timeline fashion, highlighting many years past.  A few of the exhibits that caught my eye included replica crown jewels, a 1958 diorama, and several peace sign emblems.  The jewels were reproductions made for display at the 1939-1940 Centennial Exhibition.  I do not recall the significance of the diorama other than it depicted 1958…say no more.  The peace signs date from 1982.  They were part of the nuclear-free New Zealand protests at that time.  The protests came to a head with the visit of the USS Truxtun.  The United States at the time would neither confirm nor deny any nuclear capabilities of the cruiser.  Decommissioned in 1995, we now know the cruiser was nuclear powered.  The Truxtun was the last U.S. ship to visit New Zealand until the USS Sampson visited in 2016.

Replicas of St. Edward’s crown and the Sword of State.
The 1958 diorama.
The nuclear-free peace symbols.

The first and second levels delve into the maritime history of Wellington, New Zealand.  The most poignant area of the museum deals with the Wahine sinking on April 10, 1968.  The movie in the museum is difficult to watch.  There were 51 people that lost their lives that day.  An additional two died later, bringing the toll to 53.  The disaster happened during one of the worst cyclones to ever hit New Zealand.

A depiction of the Wahine sinking in 1968.

As Leslie and I walked up the stairs to the Attic level of the museum, I had to stop to take a photo of a portion of the diagonal bracing of the building.  I may very well be the only person to ever do that!

The Attic is a wonderful, hands-on portion of the museum.  I believe we enjoyed those exhibits the most.  If we had visited the Wellington Museum earlier in our posting, I am sure we would have returned.  It is well worth the visit.

Detail of the diagonal bracing at the Wellington Museum.
Touching the plasma globe in the Attic.

Leaving the museum, it was time for lunch.  We ended up at the München Food Hall and Bier Haus.  We both opted for a rueben sandwich on rye and a liter of beer.  Yes, you read correctly, a full liter of beer each.  That may not have been the best decision we have made lately…  Regardless, I thought the food was very good.

The interior of the München Food Hall and Bier Haus.

When we left the restaurant, I wanted to walk to a photography store nearby.  On the way, we passed near Wellington’s Civic Square.  As we got closer, I remembered that a new Ferns orb sculpture was to have been erected the previous day.  I walked into the square and sure enough, the orb was there, suspended above the square.  It is an impressive sculpture.  The artist is Neil Dawson.  He had a similar sculpture in place earlier, but it was taken down.  This new sculpture has a stronger internal structure.

A second view of the Civic Square.

After visiting the photography store, we walked back to the Wellington Railway station to catch a train back home.  The railway building is another from the art deco era.  It dates from about 1937.  The front of the station is easily recognizable by the tall Doric columns at the main entry.

We found a train leaving in about five minutes.  We got on and rode the 20-minutes or so to our train station.  Then it was a short walk home.  All totaled, we walked about four miles, so we were both ready for a nap even though it was late in the day.

The Railway Station from ground level.
A docking area at the Queen’s Wharf waterfront.
A very seaworthy police boat.
Model of a German ship that commandeered by New Zealand.
The captain’s cabin from the ship Te Anau.
A wooden mermaid.
Poupou (carved posts) and tukutuku (woven panels) made by Rangi Hetet, Erenora Puketapu-Hetet, and their family.
A firetruck passing by the gates to Queen’s Wharf.
The Fern orb above the Civic Square.
The Fern orb.
Half-off sale???
Pedestrians
The building at 1 Queen’s Wharf. The Wellington Museum is at the far right.
Pedestrian II.
Pedestrian III.
Boys on scooters.
Pedestrians IV.
The Railway Station.
Awaiting trains.
A passenger finding a seat.
Waiting for the departure.
Our driveway, the entry to a secret garden…