June 10, 2007
I jumped on a bus to Sorata today. Actually, it was just a van that seated about fifteen people. When the bus left, all of the seats were filled, but the driver felt he could still do more, so we proceeded to pick up more passengers, who had to stand in the doorwell and sit on the roof. I got the luxury of not being able to lean back because one of the standers had half his body on my seat back. And this was the best ride my $1.75 would buy.
The journey first went to El Alto, in the altiplano far above La Paz. There must have been a market or festival of some sort that day because the streets were horrendously chaotic. When we finally got to the outskirts of the city, we were free to drive through the rest of the relatively unpopulated region. There were a few towns along the main road and some villages in the hills where life hasn't changed much in the last 500 years. The strangest thing is when someone gets off the bus in the middle of nowhere and starts walking toward nothing. This happens at least every half hour on this type of bus ride.
We drove along the length of the Cordillera Real, the mountain range near La Paz, until we passed Illampu, at which point we began our long descent to the valley below. The road down was modern with some parts having pavement, â€œDo Not Pass" signs (although our driver ignored them), and yes, even a few guardrails. The majority of the road had none of these, however, so the drive was pretty scary.
Eventually we arrived in Sorata, at an altitude of 2700 meters. The vegetation had gone from nothing but some grass to tropical with palm trees in the central plaza, hills covered with forests, and lots of green pastures. The area proved quite scenic, and I have been assured that there is a lot to do around here.
The photo album for this entry is here.