Published: February 12th 2007January 5th 2007
Before I went to bed the night before, it had started raining and sure enough when I woke up the next morning it was still raining. Today, my friend Nadia from La Paz was arriving in Tarija and I was thinking of going to the bus station to meet her but because of the torrential rain, I stayed in bed because I figured here bus would be very late due to the weather conditions. I was wrong! She called to wonder where I was staying so that she could meet me there and find a place to stay for the night as well. She brought two new friends with her that she met on the bus, both from Sucre. All three of them were able to find a place at the hostel, which was good, because trying to find a hotel room in this town seems to be pretty difficult. Nadia and I went off for breakfast in the Mercado Central for api and buñuelos. Glad to be traveling with someone who enjoys eating in markets as well. Nadia was also interested in a wine tour of the surrounding areas, so we went off to one of the tour agencies responsible
for the tours to checks out prices and times. None of them were open! Quite disappointing as this is what Nadia, Arianne and I wanted to do. We ended up running into the guys that Nadia met on the bus in Plaza Sucre and they were ready to go find some lunch. I called Arianne up to see if she wanted to join us and she was happy to. I must say that is nice when traveling to have a cell phone because it makes getting in touch with people you just met, so much easier :) We met up with her in the main plaza and according to these guys, they knew of a really good restaurant in town for lunch. Unfortunately, the guys sense of direction was not the greatest so it took us a little longer to get there than originally anticipated and when we got there, the restaurant was closed so we resorted to going to another restaurant close by as we were all hungry by this point. Typical Bolivian food is what was being served at this restaurant, I had lomo (steak) with a fried egg with both potatoes and rice.
After lunch, Arianne,
Lomo (steak) with a fried egg, papas fritas, rice and a salad.
Nadia and I pretty much gave up on going on a wine tour because we couldn't find any agency that was open in the morning to go on one in the afternoon, as well, siesta time goes until 3PM in Tarija, so nothing would be open until then. We decided we would goto the village of Concepción in El Valle de la Concepción (Conception Valley) to check out the village as we had heard that it is picturesque. Finding a minibus to Concepción was not an easy task though. Our guide book mentioned that one left from Plaza Sucre, but after asking bus drivers and local people and running around for about a half an hour, we found the bus stop, a whole one block from the hostel I was staying! The bus was filled to capacity and I even had some child's life preserver sitting on my lap for the duration of the trip. I was sitting behind the driver, Nadia was sitting facing the back on what looked like a foot rest and Arianne was in the third row in the middle. We had to seat wherever we could find a spot and sitting beside each other wasn't
an option. The scenery going to Concepción was amazing. Unfortunately, Arianne missed the scenery as she kept dozing off, which I have to admit was pretty funny to watch. After about 30 minutes, we were dropped off in the main plaza on Concepción. Up the first street that we walked up, we found a hostel that looked pretty interesting, so the three of us decided to check out the place for future reference. What happened next is definitely not what we were expecting. The owner of the hostel invited us in for a tour on the vineyards that were owned by him as well. He also makes wine on site as well and he gave us a 2 metre long sample of wine. Strange measurement for wine, I know, but that is how long the tube/straw was that he used for the sample. Afterwards, he gave us a tour of his fields of grapes, his underground cellar where the wine is aged and then a younger girl and boy were drafted to lead us to the top of the hill outside the vineyard to get a good view of El Valle de la Concepción. After making around the property for
some time with the children, we ended up back at the hostel where we bought a bottle of wine. We decided the best place to drink the bottle of wine was at the large wooden table in the yard of the hostel. The wine wasn't the greatest, but the company and the surrondings were. We thought we were going to Concepción to see the town only and now we have just had a private tour at the cost of a bottle of wine, split between the three of us. The wine seemed to have gone straight to our heads as we were all feeling the affects. We headed back to the plaza to catch a taxi back to Tarija (less than $1 each for the half and hour ride back to Tarija. We asked the taxi driver if we could drive by La Casa Vieja, another winery that makes artisanal wines in the village of Concepión. He gladly drive us there and then proceeded to give us a tour of the winery which lasted about half and hour. We sample quite a number of different wines here, both sweet and dry, red and white, you name it, we tried it
that afternoon. By the time we left the winery, the three of us were very giggly as we were really feeling the affects of all the wine we had sampled. Just imagine what it would have been like if we visited all the wineries in the area :) The taxi driver brought us all the way back to the hotel the Arianne was staying in in Tarija, and didn't even charge us more for the mini-tour of the winery. We tipped him of course for being so kind for going out of his way to take us to the winery. I think we entertained him as well! Arianne was now off to the bus terminal to go to Tupiza, on that horrible road that I had just traveled on. I went to the bus terminal the night before with here to buy her ticket and I made sure that she bought it from the company that I went with, not the company with the mad drivers that both Lesley and my Israeli friends took.
After seeing Arianne off in a taxi to the bus terminal, Nadia and I went looking for a place to eat and ran into Ira,
the Canadian who I met the day before, so we decided to join him for supper. I had a dish called Pique Macho
, which is a lot of meat, some peppers and potatoes. I think I had my meat intake for the week! After supper, we met up with Nadia's friends again, bought a few beer and enjoyed them in the plaza before calling it a night. Only another half day of vacation and then it is back to the everyday work life for another few months.
There are more photos below