Sucre & La Paz


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South America » Bolivia
May 5th 2009
Published: May 12th 2009
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We arrived at the bus office with Chris and Andrea at half nine like the girl in the office had asked us. We waited for a short while until she appeared with a bit of bad news. Our bus driver had not shown up for work! Luckily Andrea and Chris had good Spanish as we didn’t really understand her. We just knew something was wrong. Luckily tough she could put us on another bus on the other side of the street that left at the same time. Phil and Katrina from our salt flats tour had booked this bus which was 10 boliviano cheaper but not direct. Now we would be joining them but didn’t feel like fighting over the 10 boliviano extra we had paid as it was the equivalent of €1. The bus we had hoped we wouldn’t get was the one we were getting. Our bags were loaded to the roof of the bus along with some tables and chairs and a barrel of gas! Inside the bus we were warned to keep a tight hold of our belongings and not to let them out of sight. That really made us more confident about the bus journey. The bus was small with about 30 seats half filled with ‘gringos’ and locals. The journey to say the least was a bit hairy. We climbed through huge mountains on tiny dirt roads and looking out the window was not advisable! We finally arrived in Potosi where we would change busses. Our bags were unloaded and we had to bring them onto the empty bus again so that they could bring us to our connecting bus. The next bus was only a two hour journey to our final destination of Sucre.

Our hostel was only around the corner fro the station and we walked there in a few minutes. After we checked in we all went for dinner in a nice restaurant just up from the hostel. The prices were ridiculously cheap with mains no more than €4. The food was great and so was the red wine we had to go with it! We only had two days in Sucre before we went to La Paz and for that time we took it easy. We saw the town and went out for another meal the next night with the guys from the salt flats tour. For the six of us we had a main course each, two bottles of red wine, beer and about three of four cocktails each. The cost was only €11 each including tip and we all couldn’t get over it.

Our bus to La Paz was a lot better than our one from Uyuni. It was ‘cama’, which means the chair folds back into a near flat bed. We were travelling over night and separating from the rest. Phil and Katrina were staying on in La Paz and Chris & Andrea were heading for Copacabana (Bolivia). They would have to go to La Paz first and our buses left at the same time. We would meet them again in La Paz bus station and stayed talking to them for awhile. They had to wait for a bus and we were way to early to check into our hostel. We said our goodbyes again and went in search of a taxi. We had heard all the horror stories about La Paz and Bolivia so we were a bit weary getting a taxi. Just like every other time we were weary it turned out just to be paranoia. There is no harm in being weary but sometimes it takes the fun out of travelling.

Our hostel couldn’t give us our room until 2pm so we had a bit of time to kill. We decided to go to a pub called Oliver’s Travels in search of and Irish/English breakfast. I took control of the map as I felt I had something to prove. How wrong was I! I brought us in the completely wrong direction and about as far from the pub as we could get. In fact we were on the outskirts of La Paz and not the centre. We returned to the hostel (not exactly on the best of terms!) and sat there wondering what to do. Eventually we decided to give it another go with Michelle being in charge this time! We could hear fire crackers/bangers going off very frequently. At first you think gun shots but we soon realised we were walking into the middle of a huge protest. Although it was a peaceful one, there was still riot police along the street. Our next problem was that we need to cross the street to get to the pub for breakfast. The protesters walked in an orderly queue down both side of the road. I’m not sure what they thought of us passing through them but it was our only way. Bangers would go off and each time we would duck or flinch. It wasn’t really intimidating but not what you expect on your way for breakfast! We found Oliver’s Travels and luckily they did have an English breakfast on the menu. I ordered the big breakfast (of course) and Michelle had the smaller one. We over heard a guy explaining why the people were protesting. The new president had ordered that no cars older than four years could be imported into the country, which is understandable considering the road fatality rates in Bolivia but not understandable considering the lack of wealth in the county. The president had refused to talk to the people about it for even one second and they are now marching for five and a half months every day except Sundays! Our breakfast was nice and our first fry in two months. We also had a pint of tea each with it. When we left the protest was still on but not as bad. The trip back to our hostel was tough as it was all up hill and at 3,700m. It wasn’t physically tough, its just that you breath a lot faster and heavier.

That night we went to the hostel bar and had a few drinks (till 3am). It was quite clear that some people were getting their fix’s from something other than drink! We had a great night and the people with ‘extra energy’ went to the night club afterwards. I was awoken in the morning by people outside our room talking about the relatively cheap price of ‘coke’ and its quality! I was very close to telling them to ‘f-off from outside our room’ just before they did. Michelle of course slept through it all! The next day was another extremely lazy day and we had breakfast and lunch at the bar in the hostel. While having breakfast some girl was begging for a drink as she couldn’t sleep. I wonder why?! That evening we went to a Thai restaurant. The food was excellent and I had Llama teriyaki for my course. Again for very little we had starters, mains and dessert. La Paz seemed a little less intimidating when dark and we felt more at ease. That night we watched ‘The Wrestler’ on DVD and before going to bed I made sure I put some ear plugs in. It worked, as I slept well and never heard a thing down stairs in the bar, which I normally would.

We had an early start the next morning to Puno in Peru. Our Bolivian journey was over. We had been looking forward to Bolivia for quite a while but the incident with the Irish guy being shoot dead and the warnings of keeping a close eye on your things plus the warnings of fake police in our hostel always had us on edge. It was a pity though because even with all the warnings we had a brilliant time in Bolivia and never once felt threatened. It was our own minds playing tricks with us that forced us to perhaps leave earlier than we should have. Also we thought we were behind time. Turns out, after we sat down and had a look at the calendar , that we are about five days ahead of ourselves! The reason being that we didn’t do the Amazon tour in northern Bolivia. I had read blogs about it and every single one complained about the mosquito’s making it a nightmare. This was obviously not a situation is would be able to handle and I would only let it ruin the tour on me, which is a pity. Instead we are going to try and find a beach town in Peru and relax for a few days. The decisions we have to make!

In a bit: DH

Song of the Blog: Rick Astley - Never Gonna Give You Up (just heard it and had to put it on!)



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