Published: August 2nd 2010July 25th 2010
We'd booked a bus in Uyuni to Tupiza for the following morning at 8am although it did not leave until after nine so we had an hour of waiting around in the freezing cold. An hour out of Uyuni on the desolate dirt road to Tupiza, we stopped to change a tyre as seems to be the norm on all Bolivian bus trips but this one had a new surprise- there was no spare tyre or inner tube. We were annoyed at their sheer stupidity in not being prepared but had no choice but to sit and wait for an hour while they cobbled something together.
We set off again and got 10 minutes further down the road before, predictably, their bodge failed and we were stuck in the middle of now where again, with the bus up on jacks and no passing traffic. Another two hours passed while they sat there and scratched their heads. They were on the verge of trying to SEW a patch on the inner tube which would have undoubtedly ended with us spending the night on the bus in the freezing desert when a truck passed and gave the crew some glue to glue
a patch on. I've never wanted to speak Spanish as much as that moment so that I could tell them how incompetent they were and that it was no wonder Bolivia remains a poor country when people are so lazy as not to have a spare tyre on a notoriously bad road.
Eventually getting on the way four hours late, we stopped in a little town to pick up some passengers where a couple of drunk guys got on carrying a crate of Pacena beer who were obviously celebrating something. They gave Stacey and I a can of beer and tried to engage us in conversation, using the traditional TALK LOUD AND SLOW to foreigners language. After our third 'no entiendo', they gave up and passed out quietly in their seats leaving us free to enjoy Indiana Jones & the temple of doom that was being shown in Spanish.
We arrived in Tupiza at about 10pm in the dark and checked into the first hostel we could see, not bothering with dinner and going straight to sleep. The hostel was nice enough but a bit overpriced for the area with no use of the kitchen so, in the
morning, we decided to look around for alternatives. We ended up at Hostel Tupiza where rooms were only 50Bs (£5) and were decent enough. After breakfast of steaming hot coffee and llama milk with deep fried pastries at a street stall, we explored the Saturday market near the train station. This sold all sorts of random stuff from hardware to fleecy blankets that would've been so useful on past bus journeys but less needed in Argentina where the nights would be warmer. We spent much of the day exploring the town, enjoying a delicious almuerzo (cheap set lunch) of llama steak and reading in the sunny plaza. All in all, we found the town to be much more pleasant than Uyuni.
The next morning we opted to do some horse riding which is Tupiza's main tourist draw. There were 3, 5 or 7 hour trips available at about £3 per hour but having never ridden a horse, opted for the short trip. Catching a bus a few km south of town, our guide (who was about 14 and didn't speak any English) saddled up our horses and gave us a quick overview of the 'commands' before we set
off towards the Canyon del Inca. The scenery was stunning with red rocky cliffs and dry surrounds that would fit right into a western movie. The horses were fairly sedate (thankfully) as we trotted along through the canyon. After this, we rode back towards town at which point the horses started to become a little more feisty- at one point we rode (trotted) down the centre of the railroad tracks on the way into town which was fun. Back in Tupiza we said goodbye to our trusty steeds and went off for another tasty almuerzo, taking a few minutes to watch the small parade that was going on in the plaza (they love parades in Bolivia).
Our landlord at the hostal had taken quite a liking to us for some reason and decided to try and talk to us at any possible moment. Despite several 'No entiendos' and 'No Hablo Castellanos', he didn't get the idea that we had no idea what he was saying and just carried right on in speedy Spanish. Perhaps he thought we were just joking, with our blank expressions to his numerous questions but he was very friendly and we got a hearty fair
well a we checked out the following morning.
Our plan was to go to Tarija- a nice border town with vineyards- and chill out for a few days before crossing the border into Argentina. Alas this plan was ruined since there was only one bus and it was at 8pm, getting in at 4am (really convenient!). Not wanting another freezing, bumpy bus ride we decided to skip it and go straight to the border at villazon only 4 hours down the road. We boarded the knackered old bus at 10am and sat back enjoying our last bus journey in Bolivia.
There are more photos below