NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 2005
Dear friends of Bolivia,
Our main topic in this month's edition is about the All Saints day in Bolivia. Read about the cray celebrations around this very important public holiday in Bolivia.
In the end you can join us on a hike to "Huayna Potosi" (6.088 meter), which is the easiest mountain to ascent with an altitude over 6.000 meter.
Superstitious and mystical beliefs as well as bizarre rituals are deeply rooted in Bolivian culture. Religious rites and ceremonies of the Inca and of times even before them have influenced Christian beliefs to a great extent. Although 90% of the Bolivians say that they are of Catholic religion, many people, mostly in rural areas, practise a natural religion, including myths and legends of the Aymara and Inca.
One of the strangest religious festivals is “Fiesta de las Natitas”, the festival of skulls. The 9 November marks the end of the Christian celebrations of All Saints' Day and the beginning of the festival of skulls. At the break of down the first followers of this natural religion take the skulls of their ancestors, late relatives and friends, wrapped in plastic bags and shrines of glass, to the main cemetery of La Paz. The skulls, which are decorated with flowers, coca leaves and candles, are laid out at the walls of the church. Some of them even wear sun glasses and have cigarettes between their teeth. People say that some skulls are taken from mortuaries or hospitals. Their identity is not known.
Because of the blessing of the skulls the dead protect the living and bring them luck. Many believers have precise wishes and hopes, for instance to help to find the lost brother or to find stolen or lost property or to lead a happy married life.
A hard competition about the Bolivian airspace - Low prices of the Brazilian airline GOL are harshly criticised by its competitors
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Since 1973 the Transturin group devote itself to “incoming” tourism in Bolivia and offers very interesting tours to unique areas in the Andes. Moreover Transturin has a well-trained staff and offers an excellent personal service to their customers. The tour operator Transturin is known for its top quality, reasonable prices and quality control, but above all Transturin offers a sustainable tourism, cooperating with local communities and people.
Transturin has got own busses, catamarans and a landing place in Copacabana. They also take care of cultural and historical highlights for example the Inti-Wata-Complex on the Sun Island. Transturin is a family-run tour operator with more than 100 employees, and they guarantee their customers a pleasant and a unique holiday in Bolivia.
One of the unforgettable highlights of a holiday in Bolivia is certainly a cruise on the Lake Titicaca. Five catamarans are available among them the MTS Consuelo for up to 150 guests, which has been awarded “best tourist product of Bolivia”. 40 of her passengers can spend their time on board in 20 luxuriously furnished staterooms. Passengers can enjoy their meals in comfortable restaurants while having a fantastic view on the lake. Moreover a library, a video library and reading rooms as well as bars are on board.
Transturin offers a one-day and a two-day-trip from Puno via Copacabana to the Sun Island and then to Chua and La Paz or from La Paz to Puno. Enjoy a nice dinner and the personal service on board and spend an unforgettable day and night on the Lake Titicaca.
Our partner Hotel Columbus Palace has since a short time a new internet-site in German language. The Hotel lies in the heartof La Paz close to the soccer-stadium Hernando Siles in the district Miraflores. With the "pillow-menue" the visitors have the choice between 7 different pillows.
Moreover with the "Tarjeta-Sueño" the Hotel, offers their regular guests a very special service. Card holder will profit by plenty of things, such as the priority of their reservation and the late-check out, which enables the check-out later, or a room uprade for free.
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|FROM THE REGIONS|
Nearly on every corner and on most of the major squares, everywhere in Bolivia one will get Salteñas. These small dough pockets, stuffed with beef or chicken, Aji, peas, olives and more foodstuff from Bolivias cuisine are the favoured second breakfast for the residents of Bolivia. For breakfast the people often eat just a little bread and a cup of tea or coffeee. After this small breakfast the people starting with their business.
Of course, because of this a lot of people take a second "breakfast" at 9.30 am and walk therefore to the Salteñas stands. It is really some kind of art, not to make a mess with the spicy sauce of the Salteñas. This sauce-mix is the quality feature of the Salteñas and also often a reason for discussions. Meat, potatoes or olives stuffed in dough is not a big deal, but to put a sauce in dough and bake the whole thing without leaving the sauce is really a special business. This states Jorge, a Salteña baker by trade from the tourist quarter in La Paz is really art. „The sauce has to be liquid and with a little bit more exercise I will be able to eat those dough pockets wihout making a total mess". He was right, but his statement, that these Salteñas come originally from La Paz is not correct.
There are plenty of stories about the origin of Bolivias national dish. There a tales from Potosi, Sucre oder Tarija. That the name goes back to the place Salta in Argentina and that the Salteñas come originally from there is absolutly unacceptable for the peole in Bolivia. The residents in Tarija have actually an explanation where the name comes from. A cute daughter from Tarija moved to Salta, Argentina and showed the people there, how to make doughnuts. After her returning to Tarija she sold furthermore dough pockets which were called after her cook, Salteña. The origin of the Salteñas can not be clarify finally. Matter of fact is, that the Spaniards took the iberian cuisine to Bolivia and because of this, plenty of different doughnuts, which come originally from Arabia, where brouht to Bolivia.
The origin of the Salteñas is in fact not important. Really important is the preparation. Every Salteña baker has his own secrets. Nevertheless a good recipe is the following one.
2 cow foots, 1 chicken and 250 gram red aji (just in this case; otherwise you have to take yellow aji for chicken-Saltenas, the red one is for beef filling), 300 gram hash (pork), 1 kg onions, 4 braches of parsley, ½ cup of fresh beans, 1 table spoon oregano, 25 potatoes, ½ cup sugar, 2 ½ kg flour, 1 ½ liter water, 1 ½ table spoons salt, 5 eggs and 100 gram olives.
Dough-alternative: per kg flour 250 gram fat, 1 table spoon salt and 1 table spoon sugar. This dough will be cut in pieces for the separate doughnuts and has to be put into the fridge.
The cow feets has to be cooked for one and a half day. After the cooking one has to add a complete chicken with heart and liver. This chicken has to be cooked till done. After this one should remove the bones and cut the chicken into pieces. The aji has to be grinding till one gets a mash, which has to be cooked in fat. After 5 minutes the lard has to be decant; while cooking the Aji in 2-3 liter cow-foot broth. After 15 minutes the onions have to be put into the soup. Now the potatoes has to be peeled and cutting into pieces which were also put into the soup, as well as the oregano, beans and the parsley. This soup has to be cooked till it is done. After this the sugar and the chicken were put into the filling. The filling should rest for one night.
The next day one has to pound out of flour, salt and water the duff. This duff has to be rolled off 2 mm thin. You have to cut circles with a diameter of 12 cm. Put one table spoon of the filling on each circle, one piece of the cooked egg and one olive without core. After this the dough were build together. The borders should be pressed together. With the seam on top the doughnuts come into the stove, after they were painted with the Aji. The stove has to be very hot; most of the regular stoves are not adequate for the baking saltenas, because there is not enough heat.
Instead of self made cow-foot gelatin, in Bolivia were usually used packets of gelatin. This makes the preparation a lot easier. For this recipe should be used 1 kg beef instead of chicken. If you use beef, don´t buy hash. It will be better to buy beef and cut it into pieces.
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Finally I am sitting in a minibus which slowly drives towards Huayna Potosí. After visiting three times my tour operater “Club Andino Boliviano” for information about my first ascent of a mountain which is over 6.000 meter.
At our starting point, casa blanca (4.750 meter) I will meet my “guia” (guide) and another client. While driving in direction Huayna Potosí I asked the driver several times to stop, because of the beautiful scenery and I took some pictures of those incredible mountains. On one picture you can see Chacaltaya which is the mountain on the right hand. Chacaltya has the most altituded ski-slope which is located over 5.000 meter. Sadly the glacier is melting continuously since the last years and at the moment the slope is just 30 meter long. Nevertheless there is a new spot for skiing on Murrurata. The slope is even higher as at Chacaltaya, but it is not possible to drive to a alpine hut and take from there a ski-lift. To go skiing at Murrurata it is necessary to hike all the way up.
Huayna Potosí is actual very close to La Paz, just about 38 km but because of the streets, which are crushed stone roads the drive took nearly two hours. Just the way up to El Alto took a while. At Casa blanca I met Rogue, the guide and Frederic a guy from France. They arrived here yesterday and did some practice on the glacier to get to know the handling of crampones and the pick-axe.
Maybe I should have done the same. Indeed one of my hobby is rock climbing and I also did a lot of hikes and trekking, but I never used crampones and a pick-axe.
At 2.00 pm we begin our ascent to the base camp (the campo alto) and after two hours we arrived there. This part of the tour was very exhausting, because everyone of us had to carry his big backpack. The base camp is located at 5.200 meter and after arriving we built up our tents and have had some "mate de coca" tea and food. At 6.00 pm all of us went in the sleeping bags to find some sleep, because we will start our ascent to the summit at 1.30 am. I couldn´t sleep at all, because of the altitude and my nervousness.
At midnight Rogue waked us up and after a small meal and some tea we packed our equipment and started towards the summit just in time. The weather conditions were perfect and I enjoyed walking up slowly listening the crunch of the snow. While doing short breaks we took some tea and chocolate.
After arriving at the high camp (Campo Argentino) a fantastic an surreal scenery appeared. Deep below us we could see the lights of El Alto. Absolutely stillness let me drift far away from the hectic and stress of the cities and it was just overwhelming. After this short break we proceeded our walk up. At an altitude of about 5.700 meter, Frederic couldn´t walk up any further. He said he has terrible haedache as well as bellyache. Our guide decided to return rapidly to the base camp because Frederic didn´t look good at all.
Disappointed and also a little displeased I returned in direction base camp and lead the group all the way down to the campo alto. After returning, all of us find a little sleep in our tents. After two hours Rogue said we have to return to the casa blanca, because of the health condition of Frederic. Frederic said he just wanted to sleep and don´t want to walk up the mountain. This isn´t good at all i thought. Rogue and I convinced him to move. Quickly we packed all our equipment and start to descent. Frederic have had little problems while returning and we all are happy to reach casa blanca. Here, Frederic recover increasingly and was also able to make some jokes.
While returning to La Paz the weather is nearly perfect and I am happy for this unique experience. As compensation the great mountain Illimani, the "white-guard" from La Paz appears in front of the bright blue sky and Frederic and I took some great pictures of this scenery.
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|DID YOU KNOW, ...?|
...did you know that the whole Ruta del Che is 800 km long?
...did you know that the church district from San Ignacio is the biggest in Bolivia?
...did you know, that the amazon district in Bolivia makes 60 % of the countryside?
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