CochabambaDay 339 Friday 14th September
Where is Jesus?
Had breakfast with the cheery ladies again this morning we sure will miss them, but at least we got eggs this morning only because I pushed in. Paid the bill and there was a taxi waiting out front so we were on our way for our 9.00am bus to Cochabamba. The bus is one of the better bus companies El Dorado yes you would have thought we would know better and there was definitely no gold lining on this bus. I learnt one lesson I waited till the last minute to board and let everyone get settled in their seats. We are heading down to 2553m and warmer weather so we can’t wait, as we have spent the last month between 3600m – 4000m. The bus was hot and stuffy so when we stopped at 1.00pm for lunch we were glad to get off and to my surprise there were real toilets for only 1Bob, even if you had to keep your foot on the door to stop the other busting women from barging in. We eventually arrived at Cochabamba bus station at 5.15pm grabbed our bags and made our way to the street at
The Cathedral in the main plaza
the front for a taxi. We are glad we got the taxi as it was a big walk to our hotel – Hostal Ginas. This is behind a beauty salon and the girls definitely had a hand in the décor which is all lovely lilacs and florals, but it is clean and the room is a good size.
We hit the streets to discover another day another parade the streets were full of people and what appeared to be a military parade. We walked around for a while before going to a restaurant for dinner should have had the street food which we normally would have tried but because we were tired we opted for the sit down version…. our mistake. The food at the restaurant wasn’t bad just very ordinary and the music was deafening but on the TV they had Little House on the Prairie really not sure what that was about. Day 340 Saturday 15th September
We both woke up crook this morning but I (Scott) woke up extra crook. We don’t think it is food poisoning but just some really nasty stomach bug. Shelley recovered quickly but I just couldn’t get
Jesus in the distance
my act together. At 11.30 we had to clear our room so they could clean it so we headed down to the main plaza. I thought the fresh air and sunshine would make me feel better…..nope. After 30 minutes I had to run back to the room where I spent the rest of the afternoon in bed. Awoke at 5 in the afternoon feeling a bit better and decided since it was 24 hours since I last ate I should get a feed. Ended up getting a great feed at a Korean/Japanese restaurant, which was probably not the smartest thing to eat straight up but it tasted fantastic and I felt so much better for it. Sort of odd that my first taste of Korean food should be in Bolivia. Where this restaurant was situated was about a ten minute walk from our hotel in an area that was like no other place we have seen in Bolivia. It was a flashy residential/commercial area that reminded us of the flashier parts of Buenos Aires or Santiago. We hadn’t seen all of La Paz but we didn’t encounter such “nice” parts of that town so it sort of caught us by
surprise to find it here. Cochabamba is also a town crowded with bars and good looking drinking holes but that wasn’t for us tonight as I didn’t want to push myself so we headed back to the room for an early night. Day 341 Sunday 16th September
Had a great night’s sleep and awoke feeling much better, and in fact I could even have breakfast. Since we couldn’t do shopping yesterday we had to head off today and we headed first to the towns famous market area. Cochabamba is THE market town of Bolivia but that means miles and miles of clothing, shoes, pirated DVD’s and computer software, plastic rubbish. Mobile phones and generally most things you don’t want when backpacking. We were hoping to find some locally made fabrics and clothes but just couldn’t find any and nearly 100 % of what we found was made in China. We had thought of diving further into the markets to discover the food and livestock areas but we have seen a fair bit of that on this trip and thought to give the Bolivian version a miss. After walking the polished end of town last night it
was good to see the other end of town that is probably as messy as you could find it. The Lonely Planet had warned that the market area is fairly dodgy and after dark is so dangerous that the buses that arrive at the nearby terminal in the early morning won’t let anyone off till it is light, but we didn’t see or encounter too many “problems”.
We ended up at the bus terminal which was next to the market and checked out for buses to Samaipata (our next destination) and discovered that none go there so we may need to think through our plan of attack. Wandered back to the centre of town and found a cluster of tourist souvenir type stores but because it is Sunday most were closed so we moved onto a restaurant for lunch. Had a feed of the local specialties of the town which are Mondongo and Menudito (sounds like an Italian comedy duo). Shelley went the Menudito, which is a pork, chicken and beef stew, (definitely not for vegetarians), while I went the Mondongo, which is spicy pork ribs accompanied by a mini mountain of corn chowder with questionable bits in
Beautiful building in the Plaza
it. Both were huge meals and tasted okay but probably won’t be bothered ordering again. Between 2.30 to 5.00 the town/country goes to sleep so we retreated to our room before going out in the late afternoon for a drink.
We found ourselves at a bar around the corner, which was filled with groups of young people playing a drinking game that involved dice and a pitcher of coloured alcohol. It seemed that whoever lost the roll of the dice had to scull a shot of the green or red drink, and as a pair of girls at the next table went through two pitchers of the stuff we sort of guessed it wasn’t too potent. This was confirmed back at our hotel where the guy at reception explained that it was only mildly alcoholic. The bar had a good vibe so we hung around and had a late dinner there that was as good/bad as pub food can be in Bolivia. Day 342 Monday 17th September
Today was shopping and mailing day and would have loved to have jumped up at 6 and straight out to the shops but when things don’t open till
Would you stay in this building when its finished?
10-11 there really isn’t much point. Slept in a bit, had our breakfast and then took our time getting ready before heading up to the souvenir mall for some gift shopping. We quickly discovered that there were few bargains in Cochabamba and that La Paz was half the price and had 5 times the range of stuff. Luckily Shelley can haggle hard and we picked up some but not all of what we wanted. Stopped off at the post office and sort of worked out what we needed to do to send a parcel home….some days our Spanglish just doesn’t get us anywhere.
We hauled all our goodies the 6 blocks back to our hotel where we added it to our already mountain of stuff we needed to send home and then sat back and marvelled at all the crap we had. The post office was shut between 12 till 2.30 so this gave us plenty of time to ensure we had everything together that we needed to send home before we bagged it all up and carried it back again. We had everything in plastic garbage bags as the post office was going to box it for us, but before this can be done everything needs to be inspected by a customs official. We did learn that we could have come down with our own box but again the contents needs to be inspected before sending. Previous postal (and for that matter border inspections) have been nothing more than a cursory glance or a peek but today we got a guy who wanted to see everything. We are unsure who was more amused, him looking at all our junk or us watching the shocked expression on his face as he looked through all our junk. He went through every single piece of the 11.6 kilos of crap we are sending home, pausing to examine carefully the more odder pieces, such as beer labels and bus tickets. The classic was when he found a printed cardboard sign that fell out of a bus in La Paz that had the bus’s destination, that to me seemed like a great souvenir that will look good in the garage. The guy held it in his hand and gave me the look that my Mother has given me a thousand times that seemed to say “Oh Scott, why would you want this, you know it is only going to collect dust”. Once again I found myself wanting to explain myself for holding on to such stuff but just knew that my Spanglish was only going to make it worse so had to just stand there and smile and nod my head and say “yep that’s my crap, and I want to pay a fortune to post it home”. By the time he got through all our stuff we were both convinced it was purely done for the sake of his own curiosity than a stand against drug trafficking. With his nod of approval we proceeded next door where a lovely helpful lady shoved all our stuff roughly into a box, taped it up and addressed it. Had to then return to the customs guy to have it stamped and then back again to the lady where we filed out wads of paper work, paid (painfully) and then said goodbye to our box. So Mum if you haven’t already guessed, hopefully in a few weeks you will get yet another box of goodies arriving on your doorstep.
With the post sorted we wandered back down to the bus terminal and picked up tickets to Santa Cruz for tomorrow and then took a last wander around Cochabamba. We have both really loved this town and we sort of contemplated staying a couple more days, but the only problem is that there isn’t a lot to see and do. We never actually got around to seeing the town’s main attractions which are a convent (seen enough of them) and a large statue of Christ on a hill (yawn), but the town itself feels really great. We probably should have gone up to see JC as the town built theirs fractionally bigger than the one in Rio perhaps in an attempt to capture the Lords attention or perhaps just to piss Rio off. Either way it is a fairly boring looking statue it would have been far more interesting if they had Jesus on one foot balancing a bible or a ball with an outstretched hand, or perhaps on a unicycle……now that I would have gone up to see.
On our last circuit of town Shelley picked up a couple more T-shirts that would have fitted perfectly into that box we have just sent…..damn. For dinner we settled for a restaurant on a road filled with restaurants that are popular with the locals. They didn’t have what we wanted and we had to settle for a fairly crappy feed but when the bill was less than $14 you cannot complain too loudly.
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