Driving South from La Paz to the Uyuni Salt Flats July 19 to 24th, 2013
After leaving Puno, Peru on the shores of Lake Titicaca we headed south into Bolivia through the high arid plains known as the altiplano. We spent a couple of days in La Paz, which is considered the highest capital city in the world at 11,975 feet. We stayed at a small hotel in the central area of the city and made up our own walking tour as we went.
The Witches Market also known as La Hechiceria was really interesting in that they sold witch craft supplies with lots of obscure and strange products necessary to carry out traditional spiritual rituals from the Aymara world. Dozens of vendors line the streets and sell everything from dried frogs, snakes, owl feathers, llama fetus as well as the usual things like post cards and key rings. Good times.
While I was in La Paz I read a book called “Marching Powder”, by Rusty Young; A true story of friendship, Cocaine and South America’s strangest jail. If you are planning a trip to La Paz this book is a cautionary tale and will give you an interesting perspective on drug smuggling and prison life in Bolivia. You can also visit this prison which is now officially closed.
Back on the road to the Uyuni Salt Flats we ran into a road block in Oruro that lasted for about twelve hours which offered me the opportunity to sketch and paint. When the road finally opened again it was getting dark and so we pulled over to a road side stop to camp for the night. In reality it was more or less a garbage dump and make shift memorial for unfortunate travelers. I normally only post pictures of my art work for this blog but sometimes a photograph tells the story better.
The salt flats at Uyuni are the largest in the world at 4,086 square miles. We spent a day driving on the flats and for the most part it looks like snow. A popular tourist excursion is to drive to Incahuasi “island” in the center of the salt flats. The island is covered in very large cactus and offers a really good vantage to see the salt flats from a higher view point. The sketch I did of the Cemetery of Trains was inspired from this day trip. It is a place very close to Uyuni and unique in its own way. It seems like the kind of place Pink Floyd would have used for an album cover.
Home Stay on Amantani Island, Lake Titicaca, Peru July 17, 2013
Our trip to Amantani Island started with a day at Puno which is a city on the shores of Lake Titicaca in southern Peru. We found that it was very cold at night even though it was July. This is in large part due to the altitude of 12,507 ft.
Arranging a home stay on Amantani or Taquile Island can be done easily from Puno. This was an amazing cultural experience that was another high light of our time in Peru. This was also another great opportunity to sketch and gather material for future paintings.
On Amantani Island we stayed at Isabel’s Bed and Breakfast. There were no cars on the island and so the absence of cars was quite a pleasant experience. People live a traditional life style of fishing and farming the land. This was another one of those places I could go and paint for the summer that is like going back in time. It reminded me of the Mediterranean in that it was arid and rocky, plus it was hot during the day. At the time that we were there they were building a hospital on the island and so things may have changed a little since our visit.
As part of this excursion we spent the following day exploring Taquile Island as well as visiting The Uros, a group of 42 man made islands inhabited by the Uru people. The islands are made out of totora reeds and have to be replenished with more reeds as they only last for about 3 months in the water. This is the big tourist attraction on Lake Titicaca and is a fascinating place to visit.
Watercolor and Pencil Sketch looking out over Lake Titicaca from Amantani Island. Available for sale.
Pencil and Watercolor sketch of Isabel, our home stay host on Amantani Island.
Pen and Watercolor sketch from Isabel’s back yard.
Pencil and Watercolor study.
A pen sketch of the bell tower in the main plaza on Taquile Island, Peru.
Pen and Watercolor sketch.
A Day To Remember At Machu Picchu July 13, 2013
We boarded a bus this morning at 5:30 am, a short ride to the top of the steep mountain road where Machu Picchu is. We arrived just as the sun was coming up, and we were able to see an amazing view over the valley.
As an artist I felt like a little kid having a birthday; the opportunity to paint and sketch in a place like this does not happen as often as I would like. The day went by rather quickly and I managed to get a couple of watercolor sketches done. I also took a lot of reference photo’s in the hope that I would be able to paint some pictures back in my studio.
The sketches I have posted here were all done in my studio almost a year after visiting Machu Picchu. Sometimes I will do multiple sketches together on one page. I find that making a collage of pictures together makes a good trip souvenir and is a fun way to do preliminary drawings.
Watercolor and Pen sketches from Machu Picchu and The Salkantay Trail in Peru
Watercolor and Pencil sketch at Machu Picchu. Available for sale.
Watercolor and Pen sketch of Machu Picchu. Sold.
A photo of me painting at Machu Picchu