October 2010

Sorata, the Unexpected lost Paradise

Lena Midrez traveled to La Paz with two friends and witnessed a beautiful place to visit.

Lena Midrez
Projects Abroad Volunteer
Liège - Belgium

We had spent all Saturday in the archeological site of Tiwanaku, and we were in a rush to take the last truffi to go to Sorata. We had just enough time to buy some bottles of water and crackers before starting this interminable three to four hour trip.

During the first half of the ride, the road went through flat landscapes surrounded by mountains, where we saw more llamas than human beings. Staying in this uncomfortable and overpopulated small vehicle for hours, we started to realize just how much our backs were hurting, and how much we missed normal buses. The time seemed never ending.

The second half of the ride seemed slightly hazardous: the trufi went down from 4000 meters to 2700 meters, taking steep and unsecure roads around mountains. Even though it was already night time, we could feel the huge precipice a few centimeters from the tires, and were not reassured. With each curve, the vehicle honked the horn and slowed down, in order to warn the possible arrivers on the other side of the road.

Finally, around 8pm and surprised to still be alive, we arrived at the main square of Sorata. It was raining and we could not see anything. The villagers were really nice, and showed us kindly where our hotel was.

We woke up early on Sunday morning; today, we wanted to walk to the San Pedro cave. Through the curtains, the first sunrays illuminated the bedroom, and were inviting us to peep outside. At first glance, all the disappointment of the day before was gone. The sight was amazing. In front of us was the most wonderful landscape I had ever seen. The snowcapped summit of the Illampu, proud and imposing, seemed to protect this place, forgotten by time.

We left the hotel with brand new enthusiasm. We were not in a sportive mood, the idea was more to enjoy the panorama and go for a stroll. The weather was perfect to walk; the sun was present and the wind was soft and refreshing, which was encouraging us to pursue the climb of these deserts roads. During the three hours of walk, we went through some tiny villages, of which inhabitants were busy going about their daily tasks: a kid was washing in a basin, some little girls watched the pigs, a man was ploughing his field with the help of his ox, a lady was doing the laundry. Even though they were indifferent to our presence, they were not indifferent to the camera. As soon as they saw it, they hid their face and shouted: “No saccar fotos!” Who would would want their picture taken by tourists when he is at home, attending to his business?

Anyway, walking around, surrounded by the Illampu and the San Cristobal River, was not only delightful for the eyes, but also for the spirit. The place was full of mystical energy, carried by its important history. It was almost 1pm when, exhausted and thirsty, we finally arrived to the place named San Pedro. The cave was on the top of a hill, which we had to climb first before we could buy some drinks and take some rest.

The San Pedro cave, known to be a huge natural cave containing a small internal lake, is located inside a mountain of white rock. Even if the cave were only a pretext to take a walk, it would have been a shame not to visit it. Although I am not avid to the undergrounds visits, I did the effort to accompany my friends, enthusiastic to do the ride on the lake. After a while inside, I preferred going out to enjoy the sights.

When we rode the way back to Sorata in taxi, we were proud to realize how long the path we had walked was! The road seemed interminable. A couple of hours later, we were ready to take the trufi back to La Paz, where the agitation and the noise just brought us back to reality. The oneday trip in Sorata was like a parenthesis of heaven. For one or two days, the peace and the tranquility of this small lost village were welcome. In fact, Sorata was not only a small lost village, it was also an indescribable place: its beauty and its mystery are equal to those of magic legends and dreams.

The sight was amazing. In front of us was the most wonderful landscape I had ever seen.

Urban Agriculture in Cochabamba

The first environmental education project of "Huertos Educativos Cochabamba" started August 2006. Four schools of the peri-urban area on the Southern side of Cochabamba participated in this project. Students from elementary schools passed weekly theoretical and practical classes on urban gardening focused on the production of healthy organic food crops. The idea behind the project is to motivate families from marginal sides of the city to produce their own vegetables. By stimulating the children to install a small garden at home the families receive an instrument for healthy food production.

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