Valle De La Luna, Muela De Diablo, and curb-side electricians, plumbers, and painters

My favorite day in La Paz was actually a day spent outside La Paz with Conor (the Irishman) and Jelena (the Bosnian-Dutchwoman).  Our first stop was to Valle De La Luna (The Moon Valley).

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The Andean mountain range in Bolivia extends for about 200 kilometers.  One of the range’s most bizarre geological manifestations, the Moon Valley, is about 10 kilometers from La Paz.

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The Moon Valley is set inside an otherwise very different Andean Landscape – just a few kilometers away from the Moon Valley you can see red and green slopes that also make up the Andes.

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The Moon Valley is a clay deposit that has experienced thousands of years of eroding clay, silt, and volcanic ash.

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A combination of factors contributed to the erosion.

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The three most common factors were running water, rain, and wind.  Together they worked to morph this small little area of the Andes into what is supposed to resemble a lunar landscape.  I can’t verify this because I’ve never been to the moon so I will take the Bolivians’ word for it.

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The Moon Valley is protected with national park status.  Several trails weave throughout the strange formation.

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At various points the trails lead to good viewpoints for photo-ops.

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Some of the dusty and slippery trails are dangerously close to edges where a fall would result in broken bones or worse.

 Jelena and Conor peer into the abyss

Jelena and Conor peer into the abyss

The abyss….

The abyss….

We couldn’t help peeking over the edge – its just human nature.

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A deep gorge runs right next to the Moon Valley.

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The nearby town of Mallasa is visible in the distance, built on flat ground that is surprisingly dissimilar from the Moon Valley, just one kilometer away.

Mallasa in upper left

Mallasa in upper left

As we were leaving the Moon Valley Connor bought a chocolate-covered ice cream treat.  After he unwrapped it and when he took the first bite – the one that cracks the delicious chocolate shell – the entire shell of the treat splintered and fell into pieces on the ground.

This is a personal nightmare of mine because the chocolate shell is indisputably the best part.  I happened to catch the reaction on camera – a Bolivian woman was standing above him and having a good laugh at his misfortune.

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From the Moon Valley we walked a short distance to Mallasa.  In one of the town’s plazas I saw something I had never seen before.  Men lingering around the square had put their bags near the curb along with a sign advertising their skill or trade.

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From right to left the signs read: “Electricista (Electrician) – Pintor (Painter) – Plomero (Plumber) – Electricista – Plomero – Plomero”

My guess is that these guys avoid the overhead that comes with having an office and/or advertising.  They walk to the square each day with their bag of supplies and their sign and wait for customers.  While they wait they sit idly and chat with each other.

It seems like a strange way to do business but they must do good enough business that it keeps them coming down to the square each day.  And just like side-by-side vendors in markets in Southeast Asia, South America, and Eastern Europe, I think these tradesmen like this method because they get to enjoy friendly conversation each day with each other as they wait for business.

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