Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Samaipata & El Fuerte

Saimapata's views were great– a nice change of pace
from dry, dusty, red Sucre!
Eeeee– this weekend I went on my last weekend trip based from Sucre! I only have two more weekends in Bolivia– where did the time go!?!

I have a talent for choosing the sketchiest bus companies. I honestly don't know how I do it– but I never end up on a tourist bus. And I don't always necessarily buy the cheapest ticket, I just believe the vendors when they tell me the bus is nice. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Friday night I had a loooong bus ride to Samaipata, like 12 hours long. And the bus was well, it was riding the struggle bus. I am surprised it didn't break down. Twelve hours on a wheezing bus. But I wish it was longer since I arrived in Samaipata at 4:30 in the morning. And when I say I arrived, I mean my bus, which was actually a bus to Santa Cruz stopped on the side of the road, let me, and only me, off, and then took off again, leaving me stranded on the side of a Bolivian road (supposedly a highway– but don't picture an eight lane road. It was a highway because it was paved) at 4:30 in the morning. Luckily, there were streetlights and I saw two people with rolling suitcases about a block away. So, I took my chances and followed them instead of waiting under a streetlight until the sun came up. It was a good move on my part as they were two tourists looking for a hostel. One of them had been to Samaipata before so he knew where the main square was. From there, I was able to find my hostel that I had booked ahead of time because I was scared I would get to Samaipata early- as in 6. NOT 4:30. I am lucky that everything went smoothly upon my arrival in Samaipata– that could have been the start to a very bad situation.

Later that morning, I had another stroke of luck by basically being adopted by a Bolivian family and accompanying them to El Fuerte– a pre-Inca ruin. Contrary to what one may think because the
El Fuerte
Spanish translation, El Fuerte is not a fort. The Spaniards assumed it has been used for defense, and they are the ones who named it. El Fuerte actually was first inhabited in 2000 BC long before the Spaniards ever set foot in South America. In 1470 the Incas arrived and took over El Fuerte. The central focus of El Fuerte is Roca Esculpida– a huge continuos piece of sandstone 60 meters in width and 220 meters in length. The rock is covered with intricate carvings of pumas, jaguars, and serpents. There are seats, tables, troughs, niches, etc. carved into the rock as well. I found the most interesting feature to be two long parallel lines down the middle of the rock. No one knows exactly what they were used for and there are many different theories, one of the most interesting being that they were a landing strip for ancient aircraft. Unfortunately, most of the carvings have faded away over the years so except for the niches and parallel lines it is really difficult to distinguish anything.
El Fuerte
In addition to Roca Esculpida there are the foundations of Inca buildings and an amazing view of the Andes meeting with the lowlands. It was fun to be with the Bolivian family as well, they were very friendly and gregarious. At the conclusion of our El Fuerte walk one of the woman bought me a necklace– so now I will always have a reminder of that wonderful morning at El Fuerte. Later that day I went to an interesting archaeological museum (no photos allowed). Archaeologists are finding a number of new sites and artifacts at an alarmingly fast pace– Samaipata is just teeming with history! The rest of the day I sat in the sun and read and enjoyed the warm weather, I was 1000 meters lower than Sucre so it was pretty balmy.

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