Twitter Facebook

18 Days

halloween decorations

Can you believe there are only eighteen days left till Halloween? I can’t. I’m trying to lull myself out of a how-is-it-already-October shock by decorating for the holiday. I didn’t want to buy a bunch of decorations we’d have to store all year, so instead, we went to the market and picked up a bunch of beautiful fall squash. I love how festive they are, but I really love knowing that when we’re sick of looking at them, we can eat them.

little punkin

We also spent six bucks on some warty little gourds. When we’re done using them for Halloween decorations we’ll either try to find a recipe for them, or turn them into tea-light candle holders for Thanksgiving. Not sure which yet.

not a real rat

I’m particularly proud of my centerpiece for the coffee table. A little bit of spooky tucked in here and there. I have a box of old Halloween decorations I’ve yet to go through, but I’m excited to get them out and see what’s worth displaying. What about you? Are you going to dress up this year? Are you decorating or carving pumpkins?

Dogspeak

Theo communicates with his urine, but Valentine uses body language. This is her “Wanna throw the platypus?” pose.

wanna play

I doubt you’ll argue that this next one means anything other than, “You know you want to rub my belly. Do it. Come on. Just give it a little scratch.”

gotta rub that tummy

This one is, “Omg I think a cat just walked by.”

omg a cat just walked by

Dinner in La Paz

It had been a pretty big day. We spent the morning trekking, had breakfast on a floating island, lunch in Copacabana, took a bus ride through El Alto, and finally landed in La Paz around 4:45 p.m. I was ecstatic. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier about anything in my life. Hotel Rosario, the place we fell in love with our first night in the city, was booked. They recommended Inca’s Room Hotel. They were guaranteed to have hot water at least most of the day. (This is a real amenity.) Mike checked us into a double and booked Dave a single. How cute is this little room?

Incas Room Hotel

And how killer is this view:

mike and trish in la paz

Whoops! You wanted a picture of the view, not an adorkabley cute photo of us kissing in front of the view. My mistake! But real quick, I’d like to point out that we had not bathed in three full days. People were afraid of us on the street, that’s how bad we smelled. And now, the unobstructed view:

unobstructed view

Is that not absolutely awe-inspiring? It still takes my breath away. Mike and I did not have this view. Our window faced a brick wall, but we did have a private luke-warm shower in a clean bathroom and a room to ourselves for the first time in almost a week, so we were very, very, very happy.

la paz - tigo

la paz 2

roof top laundry lines

We checked into our hotel around 6 p.m. and I took the most wonderful, albeit kind of cold but not terribly cold, shower I’ve ever taken in my life. Michael bought me a single-use shampoo packet from the hotel lobby and the girl at the reception desk loaned me a hair dryer. We washed our filthy camp clothes by hand in the sink and wore what was still clean to dinner. I felt like a pampered princess. While we waited for our dinner reservation, Mike and Dave went foraging for the next day’s breakfast and I posted this. I was ecstatic. Drunk with happiness. Life had never felt more exhilorating.

That night we feasted on llama, lamb, regional cheeses, quinoa sopa, and sparkling water. We went to bed clean, comfortable, with full bellies and happy hearts.

la paz 3

windowless sky scraper

la paz 1

la paz

L.A. to Mexico City to Tapachula…

…to Lima to Santa Cruz to La Paz

La Paz = Love

Cementario del Distrito

Copacabana

Isla del Sol en las Fotografias

Trekking Isla del Sol

Trekking Isla del Sol, One Step at a Time

Evening in Yampupata

The Village Awakens

Trucha Frita

Back in Copacabana (Finally)

Electricidad

El Alto

DIY Humming Bird Garden

balcony before

Our balcony, February 2011.

balcony after

Our balcony last week.

The balcony is our favorite place in the apartment. It’s been Mike’s project entirely. I’d love to be able to take credit for it, but the most I’ve done is offered to make dinner so he could keep working out there. He built all of the planters, two of the window boxes, and all of the shelving out of materials he found around our neighborhood. For example, the wood for the planters came from discarded broken fencing. One of the window boxes is made from the frame of a torn up sofa left out on garbage day.

window crate

This window box was made from a packing crate.

jasmine

I picked up this Jasmine at Costco for $8.00. It was tiny, dried out, and dying. Now it’s taking over the north end of our balcony. Mike keeps saying that when it blossoms in the spring we’re going to need respirators to sit on the balcony. It’s going to be incredibly beautiful.

view from the street

This is what our neighbors see. They call us the Crazy Flower People but we have the prettiest balcony on the block so I don’t care. I love how the arms of the jasmine are crawling along the side of the building. Mike tapped little nails into the siding so it would have something to hold on to. These will be full of flowers come April.

our view

The window boxes and hanging baskets are full of lantana, million bells, salvia, hawaiian blue eyes, dead nettle, and some flowers I don’t know the name of. They all draw humming birds and butterflies. We sit out here with our coffee in the early morning and watch the humming birds feed. They are surprisingly bold, often feeding from flowers inches from my shoulder. They’ll sip from flowers in the same basket Mike is watering, and the bird will hover, beak to nose. They’re magic with wings.

garden at sunset

Someday I’ll show you what’s behind that far wall. (Hint: it’s one word, starts with “ga” ends with “ge”.) The plants – New Guinea Impatiens – are sitting on shelves Mike built from lumber he found sticking out of a dumpster. I tried to take a close-up but it sucked. The flowers are too pretty for digital rendering.

bagonias

Remember our first window box? That’s it in the back. The salvia is the only thing left from the original planting. After all the pansies and English daisies died, we planted begonias and let me tell you, they are be-going crazy! Begonia-ing crazy? Not funny?

Read more…

El Alto

desolate beauty

We left Copacabana around 2 p.m. and rode the tourist bus four hours back to La Paz. Just outside of La Paz is El Alto, a new city founded in 1987. If La Paz is crumbling, El Alto is ramshackle. Built from steel rods and hollow ceramic brick, the structures are simple and utilitarian. Many of the buildings are unfinished. Windows and roofs are amenities most people don’t have. Those who can’t afford an apartment with finished windows live in tents. Where there are rooftops, there are dogs pacing across them. Security? Who knows.  As in the outskirts of Copacabana, livestock grazes in dusty, garbage-strewn fields.

windswept

When I asked Mike how he would describe El Alto he said, “Windswept. Desolate. Bleak. Bustling and abandoned.”

roadside

The population of El Alto is around a million. It is the actual location of the La Paz airport, and seemed to me to be the gate of entry to La Paz. We were told the people say, “El Alto is not Bolivia’s problem. El Alto is the solution.” We drove through El Alto at least a half a dozen times, maybe more. On this particular afternoon, there were people dancing in the streets.

dancing

Over the course of our time in Bolivia we would come to believe that always, somewhere, it was festival. Nearly every town and village we visited was celebrating a festival. This was El Alto’s.

dancing in blue

festival

The road that leads to La Paz is edged by a great wall painted blue and decorated with the most provocative murals. I tried to snap them but it was difficult on a moving bus. Here are two:

el alto graffiti

graffiti

I don’t know if you know this, but the great Che Guevara was executed and buried in Bolivia. Months before his death he wrote his own epitaph: “Wherever death may surprise us, let it be welcome, provided that this our battle cry may have reached some receptive ear and another hand may be extended to wield our weapons.” In 1997 Che’s remains were found in a mass grave. That October he was laid to rest with military honors in Cuba.

Che

Che is beloved by the Bolivian people today. This statue welcomes all who cross from El Alto to La Paz.

L.A. to Mexico City to Tapachula…

…to Lima to Santa Cruz to La Paz

La Paz = Love

Cementario del Distrito

Copacabana

Isla del Sol en las Fotografias

Trekking Isla del Sol

Trekking Isla del Sol, One Step at a Time

Evening in Yampupata

The Village Awakens

Trucha Frita

Back in Copacabana (Finally)

Electricidad

Electricidad

close up on cables

In Bolivia, the electricity runs at 220 volts at 30 amps, giving you four times more current than the U.S. household current. It’s the same current you would get in a giant appliance; the funny plugs here are the regular plugs in Bolivia. It’s an absolutely lethal current. If you touched one of their electrical wires, you wouldn’t get a shock from it. It would kill you. Fry you up like a french fried potato. Which is why it’s so amazing how cavalier they are with their wiring. The risk of fire alone is insane. But it’s as if it doesn’t even cross people’s minds. They don’t even notice. We were on this double-decker tourist bus our last day in Bolivia and I was ducking every few minutes because I was certain one of those electric cables was going to smack me in the face. Not only would I have been electrocuted, but the whole bus probably would have exploded.

cables cut the sky

criss-crossed cables

Mike wants me to point out that many of the junctions were just knots – everything was wired together the way you’d twist speaker wire together. And lots of the cables weren’t even insulated. The city was draped in naked, lethal cables, left swinging in the breeze.

electric drapery

I love how on this building, they’ve used the electric cables as an accent on the facade. Don’t touch the black draped wires. You’ll die!

junction

stoplight

sundrenched and electric

the corner near mama coca

I thought they were beautiful. Like a rattlesnake, up close and personal. Dangerous, frightening, electrifying. (Har, har.)

L.A. to Mexico City to Tapachula…

…to Lima to Santa Cruz to La Paz

La Paz = Love

Cementario del Distrito

Copacabana

Isla del Sol en las Fotografias

Trekking Isla del Sol

Trekking Isla del Sol, One Step at a Time

Evening in Yampupata

The Village Awakens

Trucha Frita

Back in Copacabana (Finally)