Thursday, July 9, 2009

Our friend Christine just left on Monday after being here for about two weeks. It was wonderful to have her here and be able to show her what life is like for us in Bolivia. There is something great about bringing your two worlds helps me feel more complete. We definitely kept her busy between having her come along with us to work, meetings, hang out with friends and also taking a trip to a town about four hours away called Torotoro. Torotoro is so close to where we live yet so drastically different from Cochabamba. We thought it felt like Colorado meets Arizona meets Mars. We couldn't quite pin down what kind of land it was since it was so different then anything we have known.

The town is known because there are hundreds of preserved dinosaur tracks close by. The tracks were made in soft mud then solidified into mudstone. The mudstone was then exposed due to tectonic shifting after a meteor struck in the area. It is very clear that tectonic shifting has taken place because the land around Torotoro looks like huge slabs of land shooting into the sky. I can't even find the right words to describe the land it was so interesting looking. Because of that there are also a lot of canyons and caves we got to explore.

There are a lot of pictures...I'll describe more as I go...

On the way to Torotoro

A truck full of people also on the way. Notice the guy with one leg outside of the truck.

This almost looks like a fake scene to me...but it was real.
It was a little town we passed by on the way.

We came by this on the way hiking down a canyon. It's a little tough to see but if you can see the red drawings, zig-zags and other things, they are believed to be from a group of people that lived in caves around 8000 B.C..

In the field just outside the center part of Torotoro.

The main plaza in Torotoro

Matt hanging out with Javier, one of our guides, outisde of the hostel where we stayed.

In Torotoro. The town was not so far from Cochabamba but it felt pretty remote. Maybe its because its difficult to get there...hardly any buses go there and you have to drive through a bunch of rivers on the way. They didn't even have any milk in the whole town. But it was a very pretty and charming little town. It made us think that this town in the US would have been turned into a tourist town long ago because of the dinosaur tracks but in Bolivia it was still a very quaint, almost untouched, town. It felt like you were somewhere very special and taking part in something very unique.

This is the entrance of the first cave we did. Whats the word? Spelunking? Whatever. At the bottom of this one we saw blind catfish. It made me want to catch up on my Planet Earth-Caves.

Inside the cave.

There was this little cup-shaped rock that collected water dripping from the ceiling of the cave. Our guide told us we could drink it if we wanted so I asked if it was clean and he just said "You want to try it?". So we all did! Here is Matt sipping it from a straw. We got a little sick later but its hard to tell if it was from the cave water or the food we ate.

This is the entrance to the second cave we did. We hiked about an hour to get to the entrance which was pretty high up in a canyon. I almost didn't do this cave because I was scared of the small spaces but our guide Mario (in this picture) gave me a talk the day before about how we need to confront our fears to get over them. So I did it and I didn't get as nervous as I thought I would be.

This was the first challenging part. We had to get in this hole then wriggle down about 10-15 ft through a very tight space then be lowered down by rope through this space...

Can you see Mario's legs?

And then there were a lot more small spaces. Most of the time the walls were lined with what seemed like solidified bat poop. It was black, shiny and slippery.

But there were some beautiful stalagmites and stalagtites inside.

We had to swim our way out then exited through this waterfall. It was a cool experience and I'm glad I got over my fear and did it.

This is the biggest canyon in the area. We hiked down to the bottom of it and climbed our way out of it.

Here Mario is explaining something to us just before we went down the canyon.

We thought these stairs were steep but then we climbed out of the canyon a WAY steeper route...involving rope at some points.

These were the waterfalls at the bottom of the canyon.

And we went swimming in this natural pool.

So here is the longest set of dinosaur tracks we saw. Mario told us they would've been made by a long-necked herbavour. I forget what they are called...brontasaurus?

An inverted track by a three-toed dinosaur...I think he said triceritops. Can you see the three toes? The one on the right is broken off a little.

A trail of inverted tracks. They are so far apart you can get an idea of the size of the dinosaur.

Another three-toed dinosaur.

This was the biggest track we saw...also made by a long-necked herbavour. You can see that the dinosaur was so heavy that the mud around the foot came up as it stepped down.

We were A) acting like dinosaurs and B) standing in the tracks to show how big they were. But I guess Matt just didn't care. Matt is standing in the foot print and I am standing in the smaller hand print. I don't remeber what Christine is standing in...I think another hand print. The reason why I forgotten some stuff already is probably because it was explained in Spanish.

Here is another three-toed dinosaur but they said the print is just the tips meaning that it probably running fast and just the ends of the foot or hand made a print. There were tons of different kids of tracks but it would probably bore you to put them all on the blog.

This is back in Cochabamba at a national park where we took a hike.

On the hike also

And still

This is from one of the days Christine came to the Center with us. She was teaching some girls how to play a game and they loved it. Christine just threw herself in at the Center and was a big help to us also. Thanks Christine!

Me and Christine with Leslie, Rocio and Abril from the Center.

Just before the service started at church, Christine was asked to give her testamony. She did it and did a great job. I was impressed! Howard translated for her.

Kate, me and Christine at lunch after church.

That same day we took a trip up to the Cristo in Cochabamba. We waited a long time to take the gondola up but it was worth it. We reminisced how it was like our Jr. High days of going to Great America together and waiting forever for Batman.

Inside the Cristo looking out

And this was the view looking out

I took this picture of the right hand of Cristo from inside

The gondolas we took up

The walk down

Thanks again for coming Christine! It was so fun to have you here.


Christine said...

I just had a chance to look at the blog now! I love that my trip is documented and posted for the entire online community to see, it makes me feel famous:) It was so good to be with you guys, I miss you already.

By the way, everyone is jealous that I saw dinosaur tracks, and no one is jealous that we caved in extremely tight spaces and rubbed our hands in solidified bat poo. Just so you know.

luke said...

this post is so long and diverse!
1) the cave stuff really scared me. you guys are brave.
2) i AM jealous of the dinosaur trax. is it weird i had no idea dinosaur trax existed anymore?
3) it mad me happy to see c-bit there with you.
4) i love elsa's formal wording in the descriptions "they are believed to be..." unless that was which case i don't judge as much.

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