Published: November 24th 2006November 3rd 2006
Friends in Potosi
Katie, paul, jonny and me
We came to Santa Cruz for a brief visit and rest alter the long journey leaving the Pantanal and crossing the border to Bolivia…. Traveling isn’t easy!
Santa Cruz is Bolivia’s second largest city with a population of 2 million! Sloth’s used to laze in the main plaza but have now been relocated to the zoo …which Kate later dragged me too!
Jonny, Diderick , Kate and I wondered around the Plaza 24 de September which had a really pretty cathedral and had some nice food.
Anyway what was meant to be a short visit turned into a 4 day stay… Firstly we were all packed up to leave….just had to collect our washing from the launderette…discovered it closes on a Saturday afternoon until Sunday! Hence why we were told to pick it up before 12!! This meant 2 more days in Santa Cruz…
On our second attempt to leave we decided to take the plane instead of bus to save on time. After a few hours delay we set off only to return an hour and half later to Santa Cruz…however it mustn’t be written in the script for the air hostesses
Dressed and ready for the mines
in English as we were not told this so we thought we had arrived at our destination of Sucre!!!
Luckily some other travelers picked up on this and took us under there wing and sorted it out for us! The plane had not landed in Sucre due to bad weather so had turned around and would fly the following day.
We did think something wasn’t right as we had noticed the plane doing a few circles!
The following day the flight was a success so we arrived in Sucre and made our way to Potosi to catch up with our friend Jonny.
Beautiful city, very cultural with traditionally dressed women with long black platted hair and wooly socks and dresses!
It is the world’s highest city with altitude of 4070m! It was quite difficult adapting to this and I was short of breath and woke up with headaches most morning but we found that the traditional coca tea helped with the sickness. It was such a beautiful place so we soon got over this although walking to the top floor of our hostel was quite a challenge!
Potosi is a mining city so a main
tourist attraction was the cooperative mine tour
This was shocking and difficult but certainly an experience.
It was literally scrambling and crawling through holes and sliding down shafts dodging the miners running by with the trolleys. Before the tour we bought the miners presents of pop and coca leaves which they chew on all day to keep them going. It was very sad to see them working in such bad conditions but most prefer this job as it pays better.
It was Independance Day so the whole of Potosi was celebrating, the president of Bolivia even came to vistit and say a speech. it was a great time to arrive as the atmosphere was brilliant.The miners all had a day off and marched proudly arounf the streets followed by bands.
Salar de Uyuni
SALT Flats 12,000 sq km with a height of 3650m .
It was part of a salt lake or pr historic interior sea- the Lake Minchin. It dried off and left lake Poopo, Uru Uru and salt flat of Uyuni and Coipasa.
We set off on a 3 day tour in a jeep… first stop was the train
Entrance to the mines
Really was not looking forward to walking in there!
crematory. This was a rusty old train which became disused many years ago..
We then went to the salt plains where we went mad with our cameras as …it was amazing to see miles and mile of white salt.
In the Centre of the salt dessert there is an island called “Incahuasi! , known as fish island, enormous cactus grows here up to more than 8ms.
We saw many lagoons full of Flamingos and extraordinary colours and watched the sunset at a crematory where tribes before the incas were buried.
One day with an early start of 5am we visited Gueysers - 500m above sea level! Here mixed vapours steam were sprouting out of the earth at such a pressure they reached heights from 10-15m and have temps up to 90degrees. Absolutely fascinating, when we went up close they had a roaring sound to them!
It was a fantastic trip, absolutely loved it although on return we found we were stuck in the town of Uyuni because there waas no money in the cash machine..there is nothing to do in Uyuni except eat pizza! When we managed to get some money we set off to La
The conditions were horrible but the people in Potosi continue to work down there for tradition and the best pay.
Paz but accidently booked the local bus instead of the tourust bus..it was horrible! A man and his guitar singing nearly 13hours worth of the journey sounding like a drowned cat, a few dogs were on the bus, i had a whole Bolivian family sitting on the floor next ot my seat! Also my seat wouldnt go back but the mans seat in front went all the was back landing on my knees!! it was horrible but i suppose all part of the experience!
We thankfully arrived in La Paz in the morning to reach the Organized chaos that this town is!
La Paz is quite a cool city- the highest capital in the world. Its built on top of a great big hill and there are wicked views of the suburbs going up the hills surrounding the city. Jonny dragged me and kate around shoppy for hours and bought the whole of the "Witches Market" he will be looking like a Bolivian back home!
The second day we were here we hit the most dangerous road in the world on mountain bikes. Sorry Mum and Dad but had to do it, It really is pretty dangerous
Independance day in Potosi, bands were marching through every street!
but our 3 guides were very safety conscious and i beat the boys down there!no not really me and kate stayed at the back most of the way wondering why the hell we were doing it!
It turned out to be safer ona bike than a bus... There are some really tight bends and narrow road, at one point 2 trucks tried to pass each other but neither could reverse very far and the one going down was trying to edge closer and closer to the edge it was getting a bit nerve wracking!! We just bombed past on our bikes! when you see the locals blessing themselves thats when you start to panic! It is pretty shocking that buses are still aloud on the road, it should just be cancelledl
The day finished with a cycle to our base, where we had showers, beers, a swimming pool to dunk in and loads of fodder. Then we had to drive back up the most dnagerous road but it was ok as because we were going up, we had the right of way and thus could stay pretty close to the inside of the road!
An absolute brilliant day,
im so pleased ive done it although i did doubt my sanity a few times.
Had a couple of great nights in La Paz too, visiting some cool little pubs and clubs and generally a lot of partying was had!!!
We left La Paz on Sunday and took a flight to Runnebarque in the Amazon basin, about an hr north of La Paz. The plane was small and hot, and as we all had hangovers it wasnt enjoyable. But we arrived safely.
Leaving the following day for a 3day tour of the Pampas, listening to some more 80s classics in the jeep,it was similar to the Pantanal but was water based on rivers and swamps, and there were the LOADS of mosquitos. We saw a snake, dolphins, spiders and monkeys. Was wicked, but for the bloody midgies which were a constant threat although Kate was causing me more pain by slapping me every second killing the mosquitos. One day we went searching for anacondas. We waded through thigh water in the hope we would randomly step on a snake and it was either try and drown you or run off, which would
give time for our guide to go and catch it. Luckily or unluckily we didnt find any snakes just a big frog!
I really enjoyed wading through the swampy waters because we sort of knew we wouldnt find a snake.
I think the guides felt a bit guilty not finding us a snake, so they all went off and "somehow managed" to catch a snake in just an hr, and returned it to us. I think it was their pet from up the river!
In the afternoon some of the group went swimming with dolphins in the river, i didnt as it looked more like an oil slick. The boys got dragged through marsh and mush and got covered in muddy crap with green stufff and twigs all over them, very amusing to watch!
The third day another early start at 5.30am and off we trudged in our little canoe down the river to watch the sunrise. Was stunning, only for the millions of midgies that destroyed morale in about 30seconds. We left the camp at lunchtime, sailed back and returned to Rurrenbaque that afternoon.
Next stop Copacabanna, Lake Titicaca,among the worlds highest lake.
Pretending to be some odd things!
The Incas believe their first emperor rose from the rock Titicaca. The lake 230km long, 97km wide and at an elevation of 3820m-massive!!!! Here we chilled out for a bit Then took a 12 mile walk to isl de sol! nice but i thought my legs were going to fall off, felt so relieved once we reached the point where we could catch the boat only to be left on the side of the islands rock and have to climb even more miles to find some life on the island!.
Thats it for Bolivia, absolutely love the backwards country, had a brilliant time .
love han x
There are more photos below