Absolutely stunning. My only wish is that I had been able to see it in winter. It is just like those picturesque mountain villages of Colorado, skiers in plenty. It was only missing the snow. The village is perched on a hillside in a valley beneath towering, snow capped peaks of Illampu and Ancohuma. The views of the valley are awe-inspiring. Everything is green and lush and beautiful. As the village is on the side of a mountain, every window presents a million dollar view, regardless of your location. Our hostel, El Mirador, went an extra step to provide a patio built out overlooking the valley below. Our first night was at Reggae House, which had a grungy hippy vibe and was really cheap. It would have served fine if the beds had not been horribly uncomfortable and the rooms serving as a warm refuge for bugs in the chilly nights. El Mirador was a huge step up in many ways with a mere $1 increase of price. Well worth the splurge. After traveling for seven months, you become tired of accepting the barest of accommodation just to save a dollar or two. It is nice to appease certain little conveniences.
Well, I went to this lovely little place with Nadya, my good friend whom I worked with at the Wild Rover in La Paz. We had a splendid time relaxing out of the grasps of the hostel. We took advantage of the break to have long nights of rest, time to read, and a kitchen to cook in. It was wonderful! And surprisingly, of the small crowd of tourists in Sorata, almost all were Spanish-speaking natives from Chile and Argentina. Except with each other, we mostly spoke Spanish, though Nadya did find a few people to speak French with. On the first day we were told that the heavy rains from the day we arrived caused blockage on the road to the cavern, thus we explored the village and went on a nice easy trek up the mountain behind town. This was a nice warm-up to physical activity and provided wonderful views. We also lounged in the warm sun which quickly pinked our skin and set us into siesta mood.
Due to this summer arrival, I was not able to trek up to the glacier lake. However, I did see La Gruta de San Pedro, a large cavern with an enclosed lagoon at the bottom. The best part was that we were able to pedalling-boat around the lake. Pretty cheesy, but everyone took the bait. It was quite pleasant to float about on the water staring up at the different wall formations. The water was a crystal blue, evident even in the dim lighting. It was not an incredibly large cave, but after the trek there along the road, it is a nice rest before heading the 12 km back to town. On the way back, both quite exhausted of the long day and sun baring down on us once again, we were able to grab a short ride on the most grueling up down part of the route. It was a splendid adventure on the back of a truck loaded with red clay bricks. Both of our bums were coated in a fine red powder at the end of the ride. The valley scenery along the path to La Gruta was also a wonderland for my geologic mind to play with. Uplifted mountains, metamorphism, river induced interlocking spurs with occasional glacially-affected truncated spurs, erosion of erosional layers. It was wonderful. After an innocent inquiry, Nadya even received a brief lesson on evaporate layers.
On our final evening together, as I am heading south and she is staying in La Paz to return home soon, we cooked a fabulous dish of egg fettuccine pasta, onions, garlic, tomato, broccoli, and bell pepper, topped with a spicy pepper seasoning. We enjoyed our meal with Argentinian wine, Oreo´s for dessert, and hours of conversation. I am extremely delighted that I will soon be in the wine countries of Chile and Argentina! The next morning we went our separate ways, Nadya to Copacabana in Peru to renew her passport and I to Sucre. A road blockade put me overnight in La Paz, once again, but transportation is back and running and I will leave tonight. So so soon I will be beach side in Chile. First, however, I will make a couple last stops in the cooler Bolivian highlands.