Chris' 1994  R100GS/PDChris' new bike, a 1996 F650 ULTIMATE JOURNEY Erin's 1997  F650
Living a Dream . . . 2 Live-N-Ride

June 22nd, 2002.

Credit to Solstice, June 21st

-- Story by Erin --

Thursday, June 20th: Tiwanaku is a small town some 80 kms west from La Paz on a good paved road. It took us no time to get there. Found an expensive little hostal ($4pp instead of the usual $3pp) and we had to share one room. By dark it was pretty cold and we put on all our thermal underwear. Town was beginning to get filled up with tourists coming in for the all-night party. As we walked around the plaza we bumped into several other travelers we knew: a group of traveling Argentine buskers and Raul, the Venezuelan biker we met the day we first rode the Dead Road. After dinner I turned in for the night because I was coming down with a bad head cold. The boys stayed out for some time into the night to watch all the dancing and music.

Friday, June 21st:  Winter Solstice = After the longest night of the year in the Southern Hemisphere, the days will start to get longer.  At 5am we woke up to go to the temple complex for the sunrise celebration. Archeologists believe this site might date back to 1600 BC and was an important Inca ceremonial place. The site is made up of a bunch of standing stone statues surrounded by stone walls. Every year on the event of the winter solstice, the local celebrate the sunrise with a colorful display of dancing, music and mystical ceremonies. It was still bitter cold and hard to get out of bed. We walked the dark paths, along with thousands of others, in the direction of the site. On the way, vendors sold hot cocoa tea and alcohol to warm the masses.

We stopped at one stall and drank down warm Api (a fruit and corn syrup drink) and fried dough. Huddled in the stall was also another traveler we met back in Uyuni, a French woman name Marion. When we reached the entrance gates there were hundreds of people, probably many drunken, trying to push their way into the complex. We got pushed in with them. Locals had to buy entrance tickets for less than US$1, while tourists had to pay US$3.  The Policia Militar had a tough time of holding the crowd out of the sacred area while checking entrance tickets.  It was some time still before the sun rose but there was plenty to entertain us while we waited. Most of the time we were stamping our feet trying to ward off the cold. When the sun finally peeked over the mountains at us everyone raised their arms and held their palms up to receive the force of the first rays of the sun. We were told this was a cleansing thing, a new start. It was all very interesting and a feast for the senses. After about an hour more we returned to our hostal to get some more sleep.

After a brief sleep and breakfast we packed the bikes and rode out of town. Besides the temple complex, there’s not much else to see and do in town. About 20 kms from the Peruvian border Liam and Chris decide to discharge their remaining two sticks of dynamite before crossing the border. They found a remote road into the mountains near Lake Titicaca and did the deed. I relaxed on the shore of the lake and watched the little sail boats pass through the reeds near the shore. Many residents make their living off of catching fish out of the lake. The little sailboats are made of the reeds from the shore and have been made this way for centuries.


Military Police fight to hold the crowd out of the sacred area, only 1 hour before sunrise, while checking for entrance tickets.

As the sun rises in Tiwanaku, frozen hands are raised to catch the force of the first rays of the sun

More hands

One of the many groups of musicians

Sacred women bless the locals with burning ash

Ahhhh, the boys are off playing with dynamite while Erin enjoys the serenity of Lago Titicaca.

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