La Paz 2001-05-13

The approach by land to La Paz is very impressive. At first, one crosses plains grazed by cows and bordered by mountains, and then a spraweld, ugly and hastily built suburb suddenly appears. This dissapointment lasts only so long as it takes to reach the crest of the cliff that overlooks the centre of the city, and one descends into an amazing urban valley surrounded by snowcapped mountains and lush green hills.

Certain squares of the city reminded me of Paris, which I admit won me over a bit. The Embassy area of the city is neatly settled by diplomats, and is very comfortable and not at all reflective of Bolivia`s poverty. Here is a very different South America.

Huacachina 2001-05-15

This is home to "America`s Oasis". Amid the massive desert sand dunes there is a murky pond surounded by summer homes and a hotel. The dunes offer Sandsurfing, which didn`t thrill me too much, although Julie did very well at it. The highlight for me was swimming in the oasis and not thinking about the quality of the water. It was a welcome contrast to busy Ica.

Paracas 2001-05-16

It was a drawn out process, but eventually, we were racing out on the Pacific to the Paracas wildlife preserve. The area gets 2mm of rain a year, so the dunes are unchanging. However the rocks where the sea lions, penguins and boobies sit are full of life, and it is a wonder they tolerate being visited by so many tourists each day.

Paracas was the liveliest town on the trip. Everyone seemed to be hanging out in the Plaza d`Armas or the pedestrian area. It had a massive market for a city of its size, but a Santa Isabel would have been nice too.