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Travel Pictures - BOLIVIA - 1995

All images Ron Miller

     Bolivia is a landlocked country with landscapes that vary from the lowland jungles of the Amazon to the windswept plains and snowcapped peaks of the Altiplano. I entered the country from Brazil and visited Santa Cruz before climbing up to La Paz. From the capital city I ventured down "The World's Most Dangerous Road" to the frontier town of Rurrenabaque before traveling toward Peru and the stunning environs of Lake Titicaca. Bolivia today is a legacy of the Spanish conquest of the Incas, and that legacy allows travelers to experience firsthand the arduous lifestyles and peculiar mindsets of many Bolivians.

The sloth, an adorable creature that moves impossibly slow, seems to define the word "vulnerable."
I think these leaf-eating, tree dwellers have a strong resemblance to E.T. -
Santa Cruz, Bolivia

The sloth, while not adept on the ground, is adapted to life in the trees. A unique aspect of the sloth's coat is that its hair grows
in the opposite direction of most mammals (away from its extremities) because it often hangs upside down. The extinct ground sloth,
the much larger cousins of the tree sloth, was enormous - larger than today's elephants and able to reach as high as 17 feet!
The last known living ground sloth died out in 1550 either on the island of Hispaniola or Cuba -
Santa Cruz, Bolivia

These Indians at a rural train stop worked diligently to entice passengers to purchase a variety of snacks -
eastern Bolivia
Set in the Andes at just over 13,000 feet, Potosi is said to be the highest city of its size in the world. It was founded in 1545 after silver
was found in the nearby peak Cerro Rico or "Rich Hill." Following the discovery of silver, Potosi's population grew rapidly to more than
100,000 residents, which at the time was comparable to the populations of London, Paris, and Seville. Even as late as the 1700's,
Potosi was the largest city in the America's. The pyramid-shaped peak, Cerro Rico, rises in the distance -
Potosi, Bolivia
Together with these Japanese tourists, we prepare for our mine tour by purchasing "gifts" for the miners (coca leaves and dynamite!) -
Potosi, Bolivia
The treeless, rust-colored mountain of Cerro Rico towers above Potosi as a monument to wealth and, more notably, human suffering.
More than a quarter of a million Indians are said to have died from mining accidents, lung disease, and mercury poisoning
under a forced labor system that was imposed by greedy Spanish colonists -
Potosi, Bolivia
Although the forced labor system ended long ago, impoverished Bolivians still continue to work
and die in the same mines just like their ancestors -
Potosi, Bolivia
After traversing tricky passageways deep into the heart of the mountain by crawling through ankle-deep mud
and ascending rickety ladders, the "tourists' tour" really provided me with a strong impression
of the difficult lives of the miners. I was never more relieved to see the light of day -
Potosi, Bolivia
Deep within the bowels of the mountain, the miners had constructed their own devil complete with horns and - well - a "third horn" to
symbolize virility. Was it simply a coincidence that this devil had a long nose and beard resembling the avaricious Spaniards
of the colonial era? The miners give offerings to the "master of the inner earth" for their safety in the mines -
Potosi, Bolivia
La Paz, at nearly 12,000 feet, is the highest capital city in the world, and you will personally feel this fact if you fly in from the lowlands -
La Paz, Bolivia
The capital city's central business district rests at the bottom of the bowl-shaped valley -
La Paz, Bolivia
Plaza Murillo and cathedral -
La Paz, Bolivia
A long line of impatient drivers await their turn on the "World's Most Dangerous Road" - a precarious dirt highway
that descends more than 10,000 feet from the barren Altiplano to the Amazon lowlands -
near Coroico, Bolivia
Dogs are stationed about every 100 yards awaiting handouts in the inhospitable environs of the high Altiplano.
(A second dog is waiting up ahead in the middle of the road!). This wacky scene has developed
because the truck drivers religiously throw food scraps to the dogs for good luck
before descending the "World's Most Dangerous Road" -
near Coroico, Bolivia
In a classic example of Third World logic, the drivers seem to think that their act of "faith" (giving food to the dogs)
gives them the liberty to then recklessly speed down the lethal stretch of road. Just before my descent of the
"death highway," a cargo truck with dozens of passengers went rolling down the mountainside, killing everyone on board -
near Coroico, Bolivia
The aptly named "World's Most Dangerous Road" -
near Coroico, Bolivia
Looking up at the tame portion of the "World's Most Dangerous Road."
A new highway was opened in 2006 to replace this source of nightmares -
Coroico, Bolivia
BrianKMiller.com
The pleasant town of Coroico sits on a rounded knoll at more than 5,000 feet. The environment
and climate are much more appealing than than oxygen-starved Altiplano -
Coroico, Bolivia
BrianKMiller.com
Numerous hiking trails with splendid views abound amid the lush vegetation of the Andean foothills -
Coroico, Bolivia
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Sunrise view looking up to the towering summits of the Andes -
Coroico, Bolivia
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After traveling down the "World's Most Dangerous Road" to Coroico, we traveled another 12 hours standing in the back
of a cargo truck. Sitting was impossible on the rough jungle road so the experience was like trying
to remain standing during a violent earthquake in a shower of dust -
near Rurrenabaque, Bolivia
  BrianKMiller.com
My brother Brian takes advantage of a bathing stop (by our drivers) during a stream crossing -
near Rurrenabaque, Bolivia

Rurrenabaque is a frontier settlement on the Beni River where it exits the Andes into the Amazonian lowlands.
The arduous journey to get here certainly makes the location feel like a jungle outpost -
Rurrenabaque, Bolivia
  BrianKMiller.com
I am not admiring the truckload of Bolivians as they begin their "violent earthquake showered in dust" experience -
Rurrenabaque, Bolivia
  BrianKMiller.com
This young Bolivian proudly displays his alternative form of jungle travel -
Rurrenabaque, Bolivia
  BrianKMiller.com
A well-dressed (and shy) group of Bolivian children as they skip off to school -
Rurrenabaque, Bolivia
  BrianKMiller.com
This precious frontier gem is certainly a "diamond in the rough" -
Rurrenabaque, Bolivia
  BrianKMiller.com
Jungle meat market -
Rurrenabaque, Bolivia
  BrianKMiller.com
Here I am along with a fellow traveler and jungle resident -
Rurrenabaque, Bolivia
A friendly group of children in front of a vendors stall -
Rurrenabaque, Bolivia
Another group of Bolivians in the frontier town -
Rurrenabaque, Bolivia
Looking upstream on the Beni River toward the Andes -
Rurrenabaque, Bolivia
A nice piece of lumber being unloaded for transport to market -
Rurrenabaque, Bolivia
Setting off on a jungle cruise as a freshwater dolphin surfaces alongside our canoe (above left). Some in our group (including me)
actually went swimming with the dolphins. Our guides comforted us saying, "Where there are dolphins, there are no alligators."
(I learned afterward that this was not true as, many times, I spotted dolphins and gators in close proximity along the river).
I noticed that our guides never strayed from land. They probably have another saying:
"Tourist so stupid they believe anything." -
near Rurrenabaque, Bolivia
One of our guides shows us our dinner caught straight out of the river - piranha! I found it decidedly better to sink my teeth into
the tasty white flesh of these toothy critters than the other way around. We stayed one night (one night too many) in the jungle
amid the incessant buzz of blood-thirsty mosquitoes. In the river, the jungle greets visitors with the powerful jaws of gators
and the razor-like teeth of piranha; meanwhile, on land, visitors are welcomed by swarms of winged hypodermic needles.
Even with such a large welcoming committee, somehow I still dislike the jungle -
near Rurrenabaque, Bolivia
The perils of jungle travel. Traveling to Rurrenabaque we dealt with dusty roads but, on the return trip, we encountered a completely
different hazard. This bus was actually nudged downstream before escaping the torrent and traversing the swollen creek! -
near Rurrenabaque, Bolivia
  BrianKMiller.com
Many consider this region to be the most attractive in all of Bolivia -
Sorata, Bolivia
  BrianKMiller.com
Snowcapped Andean peaks tower above the green countryside and the town of Sorata (at left) -
Sorata, Bolivia
  BrianKMiller.com
The Andean farmers create "quilted" mountainsides as they tame the rough topography -
near Sorata, Bolivia
These Indian children are eagerly rushing toward what they believe is the very "fount" of candy money.
The children seemed to "sense" who was the more experienced traveler as they ran right past me and
directly to my brother. However, Brian skillfully got rid of the children as you can see in the next photo -
Brian and "friends"; Sorata, Bolivia
Brian and his groupies. Brian just hasn't traveled enough! -
Sorata, Bolivia
More children with their mother looking from a distance -
Sorata, Bolivia
  BrianKMiller.com
Copacabana is the largest Bolivian town on Lake Titicaca and sits at an elevation of 12,600 feet -
Copacabana, Bolivia
 A close-up view of the Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana -
Copacabana, Bolivia
View of the shoreline and a harbor on Lake Titicaca, one of the world's
highest navigable lakes at 12,500 feet above sea level -
Copacabana, Bolivia
 Copacabana has a population of 6,000 and is known for its religious celebrations and traditional festivals
as it was a spiritual center before and after the Spanish conquest -
Copacabana, Bolivia
Approaching the Isla Del Sol (Island of the Sun) by boat -
Lake Titicaca, Bolivia
  BrianKMiller.com
A reed boat and a view back to the mainland -
Isla Del Sol, Bolivia
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Beautiful terracing allows the island's 800 families to farm the rough topography -
Isla Del Sol, Bolivia
BrianKMiller.com
One of the residents of Isla Del Sol enjoys the panorama -
Isla Del Sol, Bolivia
BrianKMiller.com
Snowcapped Andean peaks feed the lake with glacial meltwater -
Isla Del Sol, Bolivia
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Some more of the peaceful residents of the island -
Isla Del Sol, Bolivia
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Close-up of mother and daughter -
Isla Del Sol, Bolivia
BrianKMiller.com
Many Bolivians do not like having their picture taken. However, some of the residents of
Isla del Sol will allow you to snap their photo if you pay a little money -
Isla Del Sol, Bolivia
BrianKMiller.com
Stealing souls does not come without a price -
Isla Del Sol, Bolivia
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All images Ron Miller
For authorized use of these photos, please contact Ron Miller at TheHappyCannibal@gmail.com