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      This side of the bus is the public toilet at the Chile/Bolivia border. Thank me later for not having a closer view. Coming up the volcano from Chile just before descending to this point I reached the highest altitude in my life, nearly 5000 meters high. In the future I won't mention that I scaled this height in a car.
      If you look behind the bus on the left you see the little building that houses the immigration office. Inside I took the two photos below. It is very common to have a poster of the president in the immigration office, but that piece of paper that was taped to the wall below it? I couldn't believe my eyes. I didn't ask the men working there about it because they were having a heated discussion with some travelers who had overstayed their visas. In fact, I was able to take the photo because of the distraction. Otherwise such photos are very much frowned upon.

      The next zillion photos are from a three-day, two night tour of southwest Bolivia culminating in the Uyuni salt flats. I had never been to Bolivia before and was really looking forward to this. All travelers rave about Uyuni, for good reason. The landscapes are incredible. It's breathtaking, and not just because of the extreme altitude. There are hundreds if not thousands of pink flamingos, geysers, colorful lagoons, llamas, and lastly, the unreal salt flats. This journey virtually has to be done as part of a tour. Mine was great--for the first two days.
      At our stop for the second night the men were looking at their vehicles and I noticed the two beer cans. I asked what they were for but they were afraid to say as they didn't want me to think they were drunkards. When shopping for tours some agencies have black marks for having drunk drivers, and I guess everybody is sensitive about it. I never found out why they were there.

      This is the morning of Christmas Eve, brutally sick. I wasn't the only one. We suspect that the daughter of the driver who was also the cook, didn't boil water for the tea long enough. This was ironic for me because normally I don't drink tea, but everyone says that tea is good at high altitudes. I'm ashamed to say that I turned my back on the true miracle drink: plain (mineral) water.
      My misery was compounded because this was the day I had been waiting for, the salt flats, and here I was, so sick that I could hardly stand up. It was a nightmare. I get sick like this maybe once every 5 years, the last time being in India.
      What is interesting in this photo is my surroundings: everything is made of salt. The walls, the base of the bed and the table not in the photo are all salt bricks.
      The following photos were taken from the car; I had zero energy to do anything more than sit, and then the sun was killing me. It was strong and intense and reflecting off the salt, so there was no relief.

      Ah, civilization! Well, sort of. Upon reaching Uyuni town I immediately went to bed and pledged to not leave until I felt better. Talk about your horrible Christmases! This first photo isn't what you think. Since Bolivia has chronic water shortages, they use sewage to flush toilets. The second photo needs no introduction.

"I don't wash my vehicle because I love my land"

      The next bunch of photos are from the Potosi and Sucre markets. I couldn't stop going to visit, especially Sucre's.

      New Year's Eve, Sucre. I like taking pictures of fireworks while shaking the camera, but I think everyone around me thought I had Alzheimer's. Graffiti on the bano, or toilet: "The House of Evo" which is a message for Evo Morales, the President.

      Potosi and Sucre's buses all come from Japan. I liked asking Japanese travelers what the writing was on them, and it was always something great like "Gifu Swim Club" or "Komagane Onsen".
      Bolivia is a beautiful country. I stayed only along the Andes in the west where you hardly see a sprig of vegetation. Eastern Bolivia is steamy tropical lowlands.

"The Little Blackie" restaurant, Oruro

Coca leaves in bulk

      I couldn't believe my eyes when I first saw La Paz. I wasn't prepared for its dramatic setting in a bowl.

      Over my shoulder is where Bolivia plays its international soccer matches. They really do have an advantage playing at this altitude. I walk a few blocks uphill and I get winded--and I'm a world-class athlete in top physical condition, so imagine what it is like for the sea-level Brazilians.

      On the left are the guards in front of the Presidential Palace. On the right, it looks like a nightclub arrest or something illicit, but it is merely me taking a photo of a friend's USA shirt that she was embarrassed to show.

      La Paz. On the left are some women with typical bowler hats at the Sunday market. On the right is one of the typical protests that paralyze the city. What were they protesting? Corruption? Low wages? Drug trafficking? Crime? No, they were protesting the government's decision to halt the import of used Japanese cars.

      The view from the Hotel Esmeralda in Coroico. I loved Coroico because it was at a relatively low elevation. I never had altitude sickness, but it made me kind of anxious all the same. The right photo is of a Danish poster that was curiously mounted outside my room.

      Copacabana and Lake Titicaca. Rio's Copacabana Beach is named after this place. Titicaca is one of the highest lakes in the world. Below is from a daytrip to Isla de Sol on Lake Titicaca.

On the Bolivia/Peru border

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