Friday, July 30, 2010


We have entered Bolivia along the shores of the lake Titicaca, and noticed no difference from Peru. The same half-finished buildings, same traditionally dressed people on the streets and the same freezing temperatures. Copacabana, our first Bolvian town, blew us away by the tourist crowds. Every restaurant was ¨touristico¨, which translates as ¨same shit, just very expensive¨.
We did not go to the well-advertised Isla del Sol because we had no desire to pay for the ferry, and then escape the people collecting ¨tourist tax¨ in three different places on the island itself. So we walked out of Copacabana early in the fresh morning and got ourselves a ride in the back of a pick-up of a newlywed couple. They left us half-way to La Paz, and in 20 minutes we were riding again, this time with a truck loaded with pebbles. The driver gave us directions on how to get to the city centre and dropped us off at a bus stop - a perfect ride!
In La Paz we had a shower, a refreshing sleep on a soft wide bed, Anastasia had a haircut, and we invested in two pairs of loosely knitted alpaca socks. That concluded our tourist program of the city.
Next morning we headed to Santa Cruz. This was when we have encountered, for the first time, the Bolivian version of hitch-hiking. It is almost always in a back of a truck, and almost always it is not free. After travelling for six hours through the cold of the altiplano amidst stinking empty boxes of chicken meat, a driver asked us to pay for the ride! This has happened almost every time since then, and we more or less figured out the going rate: 10Bs ($1.5) for 150-200km per person. The change of climate from the altiplano to the selva was spectacular. We were descending down for a few hours, the engine brake humming non-stop, leaving us half-deaf once again. The vegetation changed in front of our eyes. From the scarce dry shrubbery of the highlands it turned into a lush tropical cloudforest with banana palms, enormous ferns up to 3 meters tall and lianas all over. In the places where the pavement was washed out by seasonal torrents, it was replaced by cobblestone(!), sometimes stretching for several kilometers. After seven hours of travelling (and 30Bs later) we were walking down the streets of Villa Tunari, a very clean and quiet town in the jungle. We camped in the municipal fairground, which was laid out as if it was somewhere in the MidWest USA - huge lawn (funny enough, mowed by machete-swinging men), a half-finished public washroom that was constructed better then most houses in the village and big flood-lights, which were, luckily for us, out of service. Bolvia used to receive a lot of aid from the States - in many villages since we have seen the signs advertising the USAid program to schools, hospitals and the like. Now the Americans are expelled by Evo (yes, they call their president by his first name), and the Russians are brought in instead to develop the gas industry of the country.
Having enjoyed the agricultural surroundings of Santa Cruz for a few days, we headed to Sucre. The shortest way was not the fastest. We went through Samaipata, Valle Grande and Villa Serrano, and it took us four days to thumb through this hilly terrain. What appears as a neat white line on a map from Valle Grande to Villa Serrano is in reality a very bad, curvy dirt road. The sign on the side of the road informed us that we were travelling on ¨Ruta del Che¨. He was excecuted in the near by village of La Higuera, and now tourists flock to the historic site. Most of the time our truck, loaded with peasants and their belongings, was dragging itself a little faster than one could walk beside it. The driver of this truck exceed the usual country rate, asking us for 100Bs for about a 100 kms covered. We offered 20, which he declined. Spitting coca juice and cursing, he screamed: ¨But you have DOLLARES, I know you gringos have DOLLARES, you must pay, everybody pays!!!¨ After a few minutes he realized that no more money are coming his way and accepted the payment.
Dirty, hungry and tired, we entered the capital. We will rest here for a few days, and then continue on towards Potosi and then Uyuni.


  1. Hola chicos!
    Are you coming to the foro social americas?
    We are almost latinos after so much time in this part of the world, we do have duties now and we must get informed about social latin american life!

  2. Hey Francais!
    We think we will skip this gathering... We saw their website, but we did not undestand as to what our duties are and what we can do about the issues of the continent.

  3. ¨But you have DOLLARES, I know you gringos have DOLLARES, you must pay, everybody pays!!!¨

    Wonderful comment...