La Paz, soroche and Cochabamba, Villa Independencia and la Bamba otra vez – and Happy 60th dad for today!
A lesson in soroche, or altitude sickness: Arica, Chile, is at 0m altitude. La Paz, Bolivia, is in the Andes and lies between 3,100m – 4,000m altitude. When you travel over high passes in a bus, and arrive three or four kilometres higher than you were about 7 hours before, you suffer the effects. Added to the sunburn from our day at the beach, and food poisoning from Jackie Chans Chinese/Bolivian restaurant, and the general exertion of walking about at that altitude, we were feeling pretty crappy.
Shes gonna burst! A change in altitude does funny things.
La Paz from our window
Notwithstanding our less than superior physical conditions, we did manage to see a few really cool museums, art galleries, and do all our christmas shopping (Leis bad influence). The shopping was pretty cheap, but the postage was heinous. We had also sent back the digital SLR, as I felt I was spending more time looking through the camera than enjoying the scenery. We still have the little digital, although the lens is on its last legs.
Folding the flag in La Paz, outside the Presidents house.
So we were happy to leave La Paz and go to Cochabamba, about 7 hours away, on a PAVED!!! road!!! Thats pretty special in Bolivia. They reckon Bamba is in eternal spring, but the locals say it is now in eternal summer, which concurs with our observations. Its not as smoggy as we were led to believe, but its certainly warm, and a very busy little town (of 600,000 people). Our idea was to volunteer for a month, before heading back to La Paz for a friends birthday and Christmas.
Before we started the volunteering, we took a tourist trip to Villa Tunari, which is a glorified truckstop that happens to be near a national park and an animal refuge. We caught a collectivo, which is basically a taxi where you buy a ticket and wait for enough people to fill a car. The driver was obviously on a 60 hour bender, driving erratically, passing on blind corners, chewing coca leaves and sticking his head out the window to keep awake. He never had 2 hands on the wheel, and was smoking cigarettes and drinking energy drinks, stopping for no apparant reason etc etc. One good thing though, an oncoming car was in our lane effectively playing chicken with us, and with perfect timing he blew his horn at the offender, swerved and spat his wad of coca through the window of the oncoming car! Good shot! Now concentrate on driving please…
Swimming near the beautiful national park Carrasco
The volunteering is being done at a little town called Villa Independencia, yet another 8 hours or so by dodgy scary roads. We went out there on the 17th of November, investigated a site where we are going to help repair some adobe buildings and build some other stuff, and generally help out with an organic farm. Due to timing issues and other stuff, we came back to Bamba on the 20th, and are planning to go back out to Independencia in a week or so, for 2 weeks to do the building works.
Our future home
The trip back to Bamba was interesting. We left at 4am in the dark, thank god because the driver was driving like a maniac, and there are death drops most of the way along the road. We turned around at some stage because we left something behind, or forgot something or other, then eventually made our way to our destination. When we arrrived at Bamba, we filed off the bus, and the driver met us at the door. The reason we had turned back was because some luggage (ours) had fallen out of the bus, and they had been looking for it…
The apogee of lawns in Cochabamba.
So now, we understand they have found 1 bag, we dont know whose, and we are meeting the company this afternoon to see what the deal is. They have offered to compensate us, but I dont think they understand exactly how much we would be asking for. We will keep you posted, albeit slowly!
PS, the usb cable for the camera, and the flashcard for the other camera have been lost (hopefully temporarily), so there wont be any photos on these last three posts for some time to come… not much fun without the pictures I know.
PPS, jons bag has been found, hence the photos. Lei needs to go shopping for some new clothes…
Maybe we should have gone with this bus company?
posted Friday November 2008