A visit to the capital


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South America » Bolivia » Cochabamba Department » Cochabamba
November 22nd 2012
Published: November 22nd 2012
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After sleeping in and doing nothing on Sunday, Monday was again a normal day. I met with a friend who wants to get a tattoo and wanted to check out a tattoo place, but we couldn’t find it. After walking up and down the street for a while with no success we decided to visit a museum instead. The Natural History Museum, to be precise. It cooperates with some Swedish organization or something, so you can find not only typical Bolivian animals, but also typical Swedish ones. Very strange… The museum wasn’t too interesting, the only thing that caught our attention were some extremely ugly (and alive) frogs. One of them kept staring at Carlein and she was happy to leave. After that we walked to a yoga place to see if they would want us. The place looked very nice and we decided to try it one day especially when the super hippie came out of the building. To end our forenoon excursion through the city we decided to get some coffee at the Prado. Since we were at a place I’ve never been before and only kind of knew the direction, I got us lost. Carlein got mad at me, because she wasn’t wearing her walking shoes and got a blister, but buying her a band-aid calmed her down. Eventually we got to enjoy our coffee and I showed her my pictures of Saturday night which were pretty much all blurry, cause I didn’t manage to focus my camera.

Tuesday they were showing a German movie at the German cultural centre and I decided to go with my host sister. It was “Almanya- Willkommen in Deutschland”, a movie about Turkish people in Germany. It was really good, but every time they spoke Turkish the subtitles were still in Spanish, so I didn’t understand much. Also the most annoying person was sitting in front of me who would turn from one side to the other. Eventually I told her to just decide on one side, but she only stopped for some minutes.

On Wednesday night there was a concert of an institution for blind people two volunteers work with. Most of the other volunteers went there and it was just amazing. I mean I can see, but can’t play an instrument and these people were completely blind and did it perfectly. I can understand how they manage to play the flute as you keep your fingers pretty close, but playing guitar? How can you know all the chords if you can’t see how far your hand has to go up and down on the neck? I was amazed. It was one of the coolest things I’ve seen.

Later this week I got to skype to Ali (my brother), but the quality was so bad that I was kinda pissed afterwards. Most of the conversation was: “Was?”, “Nochmal?”, “Was hast du gesagt?” from my side and him laughing at me. So yeah… having everyone at the internet café staring at me wasn’t a plus either.

At night Marie and Laura invited everyone for a last dinner with them and gringos filled pretty much half the restaurant. First I had to wait forever for my food and when it finally arrived I wasn’t hungry anymore and could only eat half of it. I also managed to do an interview with a Japanese girl about Christmas traditions around the world. At first she told me it wasn’t anything special, very close to an American Christmas, but the more she talked the more astonished was I. She told me that in Japan people celebrate Christmas Eve with their boy-/girlfriend and Christmas Day with friends. Also it is very typical to eat KFC chicken for Christmas. Next to her were me, a French and a Danish guy all staring at her with disbelief. She looked at us and said: “That’s not how you do it?” We all just shook our heads. Can you imagine having fast food for the Christmas dinner? This would never, ever, ever happen in my house. It was very interesting though to hear about all this even though I still can’t believe some of it.

On Friday morning I got to do the same interview with a very Christian Bolivian friend. It was so funny to have her tell about all the Christmas traditions and the reason to celebrate Christmas as I knew them to be the opposite to what I had heard the night before. She spoke more about her beliefs and it was awesome to listen to her. The hope and positivity she had through her belief was enviableand I hope I can feel the same way, too, someday.

In the evening it was time to travel again. This time we decided to accompany Marie and Laura to La Paz from where they would go on to Peru. We were a group of eight and took the night bus. I bought tickets for the latest bus possible hoping we would arrive at around 7am and could start our tour through the city. Well, Bolivian time went wrong this time and we arrived at around 5am which meant there was absolutely nothing for us to do (and of course it was dangerous at that time). So we went to our hostel called the “Loki Hostel” (when you go to La Paz stay there!!!) and I was hoping our pre-reserved room would be free already, but it wasn’t. They showed us, however, the chill-out area and we threw ourselves on the pillows to get at least two more hours of sleep. The first guests started to get up and all stared at the weirdoes laying fully clothed and with all their stuff on the big beanbags.

At 8 o’clock we got up again and started the city tour. We saw the governmental palace, the cathedral, the most colonial street of the city, 3 museums and another church plus museum. Unfortunately some of us got the altitude disease and walking around this much wasn’t helpful. Mikkel (my Danish colleague) spent most of the museum trips on benches as he was dizzy and the others kept chewing coca. I also felt a bit sick, but drinking Coca-Cola was sufficient in my case. For the more severe cases Carlein had some altitude pills she handed out so we could keep going. In the afternoon two of the boys decided it would be better for them to go back to the hostel, so an elite group of five visited the rest of the sites. Well, actually we only went to some markets and saw parts of the witch market again full of dead llama fetus just like in Cochabamba. At the end we went to a tourism office and booked a tour to a cholita wrestling the next day.

We walked back to the hostel and after arriving there we were told they didn’t have one room for all of us, so we were separated 4 and 4. Since the three boys decided to go in one room and three of the girls were staying two nights, it was between Carlein and me to decide who would go into the room with the guys. I told her I could do it, I didn’t mind, but when I looked on the list I was on, there were three other guys in the room already and kinda regretted my decision. Me with six boys? Oh well, it was just to sleep. After meeting the two Australians and the German one of the Aussies told me a sentence the German had taught him: “Ich habe mich seit Wochen nicht gewaschen, willst du trotzdem meinen Schwanz lutschen?” I will not translate this here, but my answer was a definite no. Then they told us they had to get up at 4am to catch their flight and I thought to myself “Awesome! Another night I won’t sleep through”.

Our group got ready and we went out to eat. We found a fast food place with super ugly Christmas decoration and decided this was just the place to be. After eating we went back to the hostel as this place is known for having parties every night. When we got there, there was a pile of costumes waiting for us to choose from and I turned out to be a green pirate-fairy. I met my roommate who looked boring and told him to come with me to find a costume for him. I found this really ugly jumpsuit that barely fit him and then I pulled the zipper too hard and ripped it off. There was no way of him getting it off without ripping the whole thing apart. He was like “Oh damn, I have my wallet inside my pocket, how will I get to it?” Not my problem, buddy! I walked away quickly and let him deal with it, but he ended up wearing this thing for most of the night. When we returned to our room at 2am only the German was in his bed. I wondered if the Australians had found some girls to spend the night with and then wondered how the one with the jumpsuit would get his costume off gracefully enough so she would still like to spend the night with him. Then I remembered they were getting up at 4, so I went to sleep quickly before being woken up two hours later.

Although the guys were really quiet I still woke up. I couldn’t fall asleep again and when I finally did someone entered the room again. Actually not someone, but the same guys, as their flight was postponed or something. So I was up at 6am again and only snoozed until 9 when I decided to get up and shower. I looked around and saw Jean-Baptiste, a French guy I travelled with, saying “Hola guapa!” A little compliment like this instantly makes your day better. I answered with “Hola guapo!” before taking a shower and then it was time for us to leave the room. I felt really sorry for the other guys as we were extremely loud and they obviously hadn’t had much sleep.

We went to El Alto, one of the very few cities where the poor people live higher than the rich and can look down on them (opposite of Hollywood for example). It was market day and although we were used to the craziness of La Cancha, this was on a whole different level. The market was huuuuuge and the view amazing. In between women selling the traditional fabric, second-hand clothes (interestingly they call it “ropa Americana” (American clothes) here, as Americans give away their stuff after barely wearing it which makes it possible to buy high quality brands for a ridiculously low price) were tattoo artists who held two wires together to make the needle work and coiffeurs. There was any- and everything there! After walking around and shopping some things like coca leafs from the Yungas (which were sweeter than the ones from Chapare they sell in Cochabamba as we learned the day before in the coca museum) we went back to La Paz to get some lunch. In the afternoon it was time for the cholita wrestling which to be honest turned out to be a rather traumatizing experience. Watching women beat each other up to an extent they had blood all over their face wasn’t really fun…

Also it was freezing and we were happy to get back to the hostel. There we ate some dinner and watched a tattoo artist do his work on drunk people getting something as stupid as the Loki logo on their leg. The guy was like “Wanna get a tattoo, too?” I told him I was too tired to make such an important decision (especially after seeing he got the freaking hostel logo!) and he said “drink some beer! Then you’ll do it”. No, thank you. At the bar I saw the Aussies and the German again and asked why the hell they were still there as their flight was supposed to be at 4pm. They told me it got cancelled because of the weather. Poor boys, they really had some bad luck! I had gotten some stuff at the market for Marie and Laura which was supposed to bring good luck during travels and decided to give them some of it. Their situation couldn’t get much worse anyway, so why not try some witch stuff? The rest of the little palettes I gave to Marie and Laura to burn on each stop of their trip and we burned the first one that night.

We had to say goodbye to the girls as only 5 of the 8 were returning to Cochabamba. It was sad as they were the ones I used to hang out with the most here, but life goes on! The bus ride back was incredibly freezing cold and I couldn’t feel my feet any more. Of course that meant I couldn’t sleep again and when I finally arrived in my room after 3 not slept through nights I was more than happy to catch up on some of my sleep.


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27th November 2012
My friend the condor and I

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Pozdrowienia Ajko! Z przyjemnoscia czytam Twoj blog , dzieki Tobie poprawi sie moj angielski.

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