Bolivia in a nutshell

When you travel for a long, long, long time, you can’t avoid of burning out. And unfortunately some countries that are in the beginning of your journey receive a lot of attention and enthusiasm, and some countries towards the end just won’t get all the love they deserve.

After getting f****d money-wise in Argentina and Chile, Bolivia was a welcomed change. Dinner for $2? A massive fruit salad with ice cream for $1? Softest jumpers in the world for $10? Yes thank you. 

Our stops in Bolivia included the infamous silver-city Potosí where every step was a challenge due to the city being located in the altitude of 4,067m over sea level. This is also where I spent my birthday. Not drinking or eating cake but shivering on the very cold toilet floor, suffering from yet another Latin American food poisoning. Now I’ll at least remember forever the day I turned 32. 

The most famous tourist activity in Potosí is the tour the “Mountain who eats men” that looms over the city, still ingesting thousands of workers every day looking for the last traces of copper, zink and lesser metals since silver has been long gone. I have lately developed a slight claustrophobia and since the tour happens in very small and narrow pathways far inside the mountain, wearing protective gear while being in a sauna-like environment, I didn’t think I was able to it without panicking. And since Richie can barely stand straight in normal houses, he wasn’t too keen on it either. Thus we did not get to witness the conditions the workers are forced to face every day. This mountain is one of the most prominent pieces of “evidence” of the exploitation and plundering the conquistadors and their followers brought upon Latin America. 

City of Potosí and Cerro Rico

City of Potosí and Cerro Rico

In Sucre we mostly slept. And slept some more. Walked around the beautiful, white city. Tried to go to the dinosaur park but of course everything was closed the first of May Thus we had some naps. Also for once our timing and decision to fly instead of a 12hrs bus was spot on: The day we left, people had started blocking the streets and the following days no-one could leave Sucre (nor come in). On our way to the airport we passed one blockade but luckily our taxi driver was able to drive pass it. 

La Paz quickly became one of our favourite cities in Latin America. Reminds me of Medellín and that’s a very good thing. Our walking tour guide showed us the local markets the first day and thus begun our avocado sandwich & fruit juice diet for the next seven days.

We visited “the biggest market in South America” (a lot of the cities claim that but this was massive) where I found the perfect captain hat for Burning Man for $5 (eat it US online stores selling the same for $200) and discovered a stand selling classic 80’s and 90’s jumpers. Walking around for 2,5 hours was not enough to cover all and I can just imagine all the awesome stuff we missed out on..

La Paz is also famous for Cholita’s wrestling. Ladies in traditional wear showing of their WWF skills. Sounds strange and is even more strange live. It starts early, you can’t buy beer, and you sit in a gym hall with other 50 awkardly shuffling tourists waiting for the show to begin. Surprisingly it was highly entertaining and they had clearly practised their moves! 

And then the main attraction of La Paz and its surroundings: Biking down the Death Road. I was vary about this first, thinking that I’d somehow tip myself over the narrow paths but oh buy am I glad I joined Richie for the full day trip. Because I beat him! (And did not fall off a cliff so I’d call this a great success.)

When the clouds parted for a second

When the clouds parted for a second

First you get used to the bike riding down some paved roads for an hour but the fun only begins on the actual death road. It would have been even more fun in a smaller group where you don’t have to wait for everyone (there was a lot of waiting…) but even this way it was super fun! I think we’ll change our hiking boots to mountain bikes. Although we did not pick the best location to live in for this new hobby.. Netherlands will offer only flat grounds where you actually will have to pedal around :(

Too little time in Bolivia was finished at Lake Titicaca and Island of the Sun. I think the first time I have ever heard of Lake Titicaca was from Donald Duck magazines where Uncle Scrooge et al. were looking for El Dorado. And since then it has held a mystical image in my head.

Thank you Bolivia, the second-last country on our travels. The end is near..