Cycling above the Clouds

Riding the Andes by Bicycle

Health & Safety in a town of two halves

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Our final day cycling by Lago Titicaca thought it would give us a farewell to remember as we crossed Tiquina, the town of two halves.

The crossing from San Pedro to San Pablo de Tiquina

Crossing the Strait of Tiquina on a rickety barge – the mamí next to us was crossing over to sell broad beans on the other side

The town of two halves

The crossing is made on pretty precarious barges, poled away from the dock like a very over-sized Oxbridge punt! The crossing was about 25p each.

Even buses cross the lake on these floats

We stopped off for the night in San Pedro de Tiquina to stay at the new hotel of Andreas, a gorgeous house that his father had originally built when he was ‘farming small fish in the lake for the Japanese’. For the second time on the trip, we were told that we were the first ever guests from Andreas was a young and ambitious guy, studying in La Paz and making trips up to the house when he had bookings, and to start up his watersports business. He told us some pretty intriguing Bolivian superstitions…

Superstition #1: Building a house

Bolivian builders are a superstitious bunch and will refuse to start building a property – including this house we stayed in – until the necessary customary obligation has been met. This entails burying a llama foetus in the foundations. Once that has been done, the builders know they will be protected from any accidents when working on the property – health and safety at its finest!

Bolivians can buy llama foetuses from the witch doctor (‘la bruja’) at stores like this in La Paz – more on this topic later!

We’ve been told that the llama foetuses are all obtained ‘naturally’, but that’s pretty hard to believe given the scale of usage on most construction sites.

Superstition #2: Breaking a leg

Another example of alternative healthcare was Andreas’ elderly next door neighbour who broke his leg. Like many in the countryside, he decided to visit the local witch doctor rather than go to the hospital. The treatment he was prescribed was to  ‘strap a dead black dog to the broken leg’ then walk around with it until the leg had healed. According to Andreas, this prescription worked a treat.

We really hope the dead dog came from the roadkill we regularly see (so many strays here that sadly we see a dead dog on the road at least once every day) and not a cutie like this chap being sacrificed especially for the occasion…

On a lighter note…

We liked this bar in Andreas’ house, made from a wrecked car his dad found by the road close to Oruro and paid just 500 Boliviano (c. $70) for.

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