26 October 2007


I think of the trip as divided into three sections: Samaipata, Ipita, and the Jesiut Missions. In each of these sections we spent around 4-5 days, with Santa Cruz as our stopover between each one. While exploring the Samipata area we stayed at the Andorina Hostel. The breakfast there was amazing. We would each get a plate overflowing with fresh cut fruit and then there was the bread and tea for the side. I wish I could wake up everyday to watermelon, oranges, papaya, pineapple, and bananas sliced on a plate. Plus the whole atmosphere there was relaxed and inviting. Samaipata itself was a charming city full of ex-pats and Bolivians alike. The PCV who live in this area are very lucky to have such a cool place to hang out.

After our morning hike at the Giant Fern Forest we decided to see El Fuerte for the afternoon. This would be my first time seeing a Pre-Incan archealogy site and my first time chewing coca. We were quite silly running around the large rock fortress. It's hard to grasp the time frame that this thing was built and even its size is hard to comprehend. The top is craved with animals and symbols, the sides have nooks and squares cut out for idols to be worshipped. The whole place is amazing to visit.

This is a view from the top. You can see how the site was cut literally right into the mountainside. El Fuerte is designated a world heritage site by UNESCO. It is believed that the Pre-Incans used it for religious purposes, then the Incans took it over, and finally, the Spanish used it as a military fort. It's called El Fuerte or The Fortress for this reason.

One of my favorite parts about Samaipata is the colorful streets. The buildings were all painted in reds, oranges, blues, and greens. And the main square was teeming with bird life. I wish all cities in the States could have plazas that were as beautiful as the one in Samaipata.

Rupp lives in the Chaco portion of Bolivia. It's hot and dry and there's very little water to swim. So it was decided that we would spend one afternoon hiking the short trails of Los Cuevas in search of the perfect swimming location. Los Cuevas is a series of three waterfalls. At the top of the one pictured above there is a dammed area for swimming. We spent quite awhile lounging about the pool and even took up some water wrestling.

And of course we birded at every availabe stop. By this waterfall we found a Black Phoebe. According to the book, they love mountain streams. This bird hung out for quite some time without showing any fear of us. A hummingbird also flew near but it was gone before we could pick up any field marks. It took us the whole 2 weeks before we would properly ID a hummer.

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