La Paz is the world's highest capital city, at an average elevation of 3650 m. Its colorful buildings fill a valley surrounded by the altiplano.
The numerous unadorned brick buildings result from Bolivian taxes, which are not due until completion of the structure
Illimani, the highest mountain in the Cordillera Real, looms in the distance
Colorful graves dot the steep hillside
You may wonder from what vantage point we can get this high perspective, in a cemetery, no less
Which brings us to one of La Paz's unique features: a public transportation system composed of a network of gondolas
Built by a Swiss-Austrian firm, Mi Teleférico provides safe, quiet, and fast transportation in a chaotic city choked with traffic and diesel fumes
You may have noticed two flags: since 2009, the Wiphala of Qulla Suyu, which represents some of the indigenous peoples of the Andes, has been displayed alongside the Bolivian national flag
Our first destination in Uyuni was a graveyard of locomotives and rail cars
Many are covered in graffiti, some of quite high quality
In recent years scavengers have been looting the yard in search of scrap metal
The diminishing collection still is an interesting monument to a moment in recent history
The real attraction of this region is the Salar de Uyuni, the world's largest salt flat
At 10,582 square kilometers (4,086 sq mi), it is slightly smaller than Jamaica
At 3,656 meters (11,995 ft) above sea level, it is a little higher and drier than Jamaica
In the rainy season, Salar de Uyuni is famous for its reflections. The rains were late this year, but our guide led us to this spring-fed cove.
The small pink dots at the edge of the water are flamingos
The flatness and size of the salt flat makes it ideal for the calibration of orbiting satellites
The land surrounding the Salar make ideal terrain for the cultivation of quinoa and other salt-loving ancient grains
The visible salt is actually a crust over a lake of brine, which renews that salt continuously. It is harvested for local use.
Salar de Uyuni also contains the world's largest deposit of lithium. Test mines are being explored to satisfy the world's thirst for batteries.