Valle de la luna, La Paz, Bolivia, May 12, 2018

On a Friday, I decided to spend in La Paz until Monday instead of driving South. That was to make sure to finish some logistical stuff with ease and to experience the city further. And the latter included an afternoon trip to Valle de la Luna, or the Moon Valley.

Google argued that it was about 18 minutes of driving to get there, but it took me over an hour. I think I was caught in the weekend rush hour.

The pictures must speak for themselves. Overall, it felt like a less gigantic version of the Badlands National Park in South Dakota, where I took the first cover photo of my car. It still felt like out of the Earth and I was glad I could explore most of the hills and valleys within two hours.

Just to savour the experience better, I recently started this practice – sitting on the ground, closing eyes and focus on other senses. This helps remembering the place by non-visual senses.

@Valle de la luna, La Paz, Bolivia, May 12, 2018

With Raul.

After meeting with him three times in a week’s time, I’m happy to call him my best friend in La Paz.

@La Paz, Bolivia, May 14, 2018

Gio, Serena, and Christina

It was nice to share experiences with fellow long-term travelers from Italy and Maryland, US.

@Onkel Inn, Uyuni, Bolivia, May 15, 2018

Salsa in Cali @La Topa Tolondra, Cali, Colombia, March 29, 2018

It is widely believed that salsa music originated in Cuba. But to confess, I do not enjoy Cuban salsa music much, at least the modern ones – the endlessly cheerful tone wears out my emotional energy reserve within an hour. In contrast, I enjoy Colombian salsa songs – sometimes they may lack musical sophistication but they are rich with common human emotions, although a lot of them are romantic love-related.

Back in the US, I saw salsa Cali performances and the style seemed to focus on very rapid movements, especially with feet, and I doubted whether they can maintain an organic connection with the music at that speed. So as I was approaching Cali, I was excited to check it out in its hometown but at the same time, I was nervous because I wasn’t sure whether I’d end up appreciating the style.

Unlucky for me, the options were limited when I was there because it was Semana Santa. But one of the biggest clubs, La Topa Tolondra, was open one night. I think about 30% of the population were travelers. All things considered, I had a good time until very late at night.

@La Topa Tolondra, Cali, Colombia, March 29, 2018

Sajta,@Mirasol, La Paz, Bolivia, May 9, 2018

My initial experiences in Bolivia were not gentle – disgruntled immigration officer, a policeman asking for voluntary contribution, chilly weather and lack of oxygen. But from the day two, I began to encounter more interesting things. Food is one of them but this might just be my personal preference – there seem to be several spicy food or heavy stews options.

The chicken in Sajta de Pollo was slightly spicy and it actually tasted similar to a Korean dish(Dak-bokkeum-tang), which is more spicy. The accompanying dried potatos (called Tunta) had an interesting dried texture and it was fun to chew.

@Mirasol, La Paz, Bolivia, May 9, 2018

On the way to Puno from Cusco, Peru, May 4, 2018

While heading for Bolivia, I drove the same route between Cusco and Puno again, only in the opposite direction. But this time, I was determined to pull over and take a walk at some point.
 
Aguas Calientes, Occobamba, Peru, May 4, 2018

Way to Machu Picchu, Machu Picchu, Peru, April 29, 2018

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Here I came to Machu Picchu, where everyone seems to have their profile photos replaced. To get to Cusco, I drove from Puno for about 7 hours and I was already amazed by the scenery of mountains and plains that didn’t even have names. So I was wondering whether Machu Picchu could actually beat the unnamed scenery.

Since I do not consider myself a vacation traveler, when I am in a highly touristy place, I feel as if I came to a too much fancy store that I cannot afford.

Even it was a low season, the minimal cost for Machu Picchu experience was expensive, starting at $180/person.

However, being at Machu Picchu was an irreplaceable experience. I enjoyed looking at the mysterious engineering feat with an exaggerated sense of an open space at the top of mountains. It’s a pity that, to this day, we know little about this city – when it was built, who built it, and why it was abandoned.

@Machu Picchu, Peru, April 29, 2018

somewhere 3 hours from Puno, Peru, April 25, 2018

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The section from Arequipa to Puno already called my attention weeks ago. Within about an hour of driving, the maximum elevation gain is over 2,000 meters, from around 2,300m to 4,500m.

The lack of power of the car, which I experienced in Ecuador, had concerned me about getting ultimately stranded somewhere. But I finally faced the roads today, now armed with a new EGR valve, a bottle of transmission additive, and newly practiced skills on how to use manual gears to minimize stress on the gearbox.

The truth was, the roads were very easy and enjoyable. It was hard to believe that we were over 4,000m from the sea level – breathing was also effortless. Some snow-capped volcanoes on the horizon and occasional llama sightings made the road trip more of a road trip.

@somewhere 3 hours from Puno, Peru, April 25, 2018