|Don’t cry for me Argentina – JB and I officially left Argentina (and Chile) and crossed over the border into Bolivia. First stop, a little town called Taraja which is famous for dinosaur bones and is believe it or not the main producer of wine in the country. We were as you can imagine, slightly sceptical about Bolivian wine and it just about lived up to the rather poor expectations we had of it! The vines were originally bought here from Europe in order for the clergy to make communion wine with, so it was originally the churches that owned all the vine yards.
This is the only place that grows grapes at higher altitudes and this latitude, of about 2500m which with the really hot climate and very cold evenings means the grapes take longer to ripen but because of this, allegedly they are more aromatic etc, etc. The Bolivians however enjoy really sweet wines, both red and white and therefore A LOT of sugar is added. The first winery we visited (at 1030 am I hasten to add) was actually quite fun. The wine itself, a couple of whites, reds and some fizzy red wine based alcopop was actually fairly drinkable and not really sweet at all. The best thing about this tour though was that the wine was unlimited – none of the half a sip measures – more like a bottle each. This was not however the best bit by far as along with the wine they served nibbles and the most amazing goat’s cheese I have ever tasted. As goat’s cheese (along with marmite and Heinz tomato soup) is one of the main things I have missed and craved, I was in heaven.
The second winery was a real local little place within beautiful settings and with the most dreadful wine we have ever tasted. There was red and white in vinegar forms, through sweet sweeter and unbearable. We also had a local lunch here which was very good but the only thing that spoiled it was that it came with unlimited wine!
Suffice to say, they barely export any wine but there is some elite club in Germany that imports it in at serious costs and apparently it has won a series of international wine competitions – although I suspect that those judging it may have been slightly inebriated.
The other thing we did here was a fossil hunting, dinosaur tour as there have been many excavations here. Slightly like the Jurassic coast in Dorset. We found several vertebrae and tibias which are fairly common but the surroundings and views were pretty spectacular too.
We now head up high – 4100m to be exact and considering we were feeling the effects of altitude at 2000m in Mexico City, I suspect we are about to become breathless. All good acclimatisation for the Inca trail though, which is in about 15 days time.