On November second (day 33), Danielle and I + MinEssa left our hotels in La Paz and made a quick drive across town to check out one of the bigger cemeteries in the city. Given it was the second day of the Day of the Dead celebrations, we wanted to see how the locals decorated the graves of their deceased. We arrived to a packed parking lot; cars, pedestrians, vendors, and bicyclists were everywhere. Many of the vendors were selling flowers to place at the headstones or in the mausoleums.
The cemetery itself was so large, Danielle at first thought it to be a shantytown of sorts when we drove down the hill towards it. As we've come to realize on this trip, Hispanic culture takes cemeteries very seriously with impressive structures to honour the dead and flowers and candles filling much of the space around said structures. Especially on this day, it was a sight to behold. The four of us wandered around the yard for a few minutes, admiring the displays. We didn't want to stay long, however, as we were a bit worried about intruding on the families' rituals.
After leaving the cemetery, we planned to head towards the kitesurfing gringo paradise of La Ventana less than an hour from La Paz along highway 286. However, the four of us didn't convoy, as MinEssa had to grab some water from a Purificada before leaving La Paz. Thus, we decided to meet somewhere in La Ventana on one of the free places to camp on the beach.
We'd checked freecampsites.net while in La Paz and found many free spots around La Ventana, some to the North, and some to the East. While we should have coordinated with MinEssa where they were thinking of staying, we did not. When we arrived in La Ventana, Danielle and I drove onto the beach, and figured we'd try and head east along the sand towards a lighthouse with free camping. However, once getting onto the sand, we found it to be incredibly deep and I soon found Bilbo beginning to sink with the tyre pressure as high as I had it. Taking precautionary measures, I stopped before I dug myself in, and lowered the pressure. We then figured that given the softness of the sand, there was no way MinEssa's van would make the journey to the lighthouse, and figured they must be going to one of the free spots to the North of the town. Thus, we headed back to the road, and filled the tyres.
As we drove North of town, we descended a hill to find, lo and behold, MinEssa's Mazda MPV parked on the beach, with the two of them talking to Mr. Jackson, the old art teacher from Danielle and I's highschool that we'd seen in Loreto, but didn't approach. We pulled up beside the silver van and reunited, somewhat surprisingly with the group. MinEssa exclaimed that they'd just given up on us finding them when we crested the hill. We chatted a bit with Mr. Jackson and decided that the beach would be our basecamp for the next 3 nights.
For the next few days we camped at the same beach a bit north of La Ventana, enjoying the water, sand, and each other's company. We filled our days with card games, trips to the coffeeshop in town, and swimming. Mixed in there was helping people out of the sand (including MinEssa's van), and helping some kids who washed up on the beach one evening who's outboard had died in the water.
PS: Sorry there's not too many photos this post, I didn't take too many while at La Ventana save some of MinEssa.