South America Trip.8 – Bolivia

Tihuanaco on the Bolivian altiplano
A farm near Tihuanaco, a pre-Inca site between La Paz and L. Titicaca

Sat Aug 19, 1967:

Departed Buenos Aires by train for La Quiaca. The trip to La Quiaca took, if I remember, two nights on the train, during which time we climbed to 11, 293 feet. My sheepskin coat came in handy. While I’m not sensitive to altitude, carrying my heavy bag from car to car on the train caused me some huffing and puffing. Starting out alone, I met four American Peace Corps volunteers on the train. They had, like I, just finished their two-year assignments. Theirs were done in Uruguay. There was a married couple and two single women in their group. I particularly remember a Japanese American named Jo Ann from Chicago who was either a Ph.D in Chemistry or on her way to doing one. She later visited me in Montréal. They all were fluent in Spanish and great company for me, alone since I let my companions George and Ian go ahead while I spent extra time in Rio de Janeiro.

We did make it to La Quiaca, crossed into Villazón on the Bolivian side, and took a second train up through Bolivia to La Paz. This was a further 16 hours or so and about another 1000′ of elevation.

La Paz Approach
La Paz Approach

I took the above slide as we descended on La Paz from above. Continue reading “South America Trip.8 – Bolivia”

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South America Trip.6 – “Lost” in Rio

Sugarloaf and Rio from Corcovado
Sugarloaf and Rio from Corcovado – August 1967

Rio – Oh wow!

George, Ian and I traveled from Salvador, Bahia to Rio in a Greyhound Bus. The trip took 28 hours. We left Thursday, July 27 at 10 AM and arrived in Rio on Friday, July 28 at about 2 PM after a fascinating (at first) and later grueling trip in which I sat, innards churning, over the rear wheel. We passed some sugar cane, later cactus, isolated farms and even adobe homes shaped like igloos. Passing through Minas Gerais at night we were offered very cheaply priced precious stones by street vendors. Sheepskins dyed and pure were priced at about $4 each.

The following upbeat letter and another one to Anita was written lying on Copacabana Beach on Saturday facing Sugarloaf Mountain while George and Ian chatted with some attractive, bikini clad, women during which time George got his pants stolen and had to go back to our hotel in his bathing trunks, a no-no on public transport in Rio in those days. Wonder, given the fleshy excesses of Rio’s mardi gras, if these ancient strictures still apply… We laughed at ol’ George in his comic predicament, despite our great concern and sympathy. Guys do that.

A 75 Cent Taxi Ride – South America Trip.5

My Trip: July 13 to September 5

Part 5 of our 1967 South America trip took us from Belem to beautiful Salvador, Bahía.

Fortaleza: On Saturday, July 22 at 4 PM, after two nights in Belem (if I include the first night we spent still on the Lobo D’Almada in our hammocks) we left by plane for Fortaleza. We asked the airport taxi driver  to take us to an inexpensive but good place. Maybe we got our signals crossed, because the place we ended up at charged by the hour. It was yet another red light district. We paid less than $2 for a room with three clean beds and, judging by the interesting noises, paper-thin walls. Can’t remember how much we slept, but we were up early enough to be ready for our 5:45 AM airport taxi  on Sunday morning.

The airport taxi (10 minutes ride) cost us 2000 cruzeiros – about 75 cents!

Fortaleza seemed a pretty forgettable place in every respect other than the hotel. Things change, of course. Friends of ours recently took a very long cruise around South America. It included a visit to Antarctica, a return to Florida via the Panama Canal and a cruise up the Amazon River to Belem. Their ship stopped at Fortaleza on the way south to Rio and they were pleased with the look of the place. Continue reading “A 75 Cent Taxi Ride – South America Trip.5”