|Today has started perfectly, with a beautiful breakfast, a haircut that cost less than $3 (I was in dire need of a trim) & now here I sit in a local internet café to share with you what an amazing past week it has been.
Firstly a shout out to Jenny Severich! Just wanted to say we have fallen in love with your homeland and we have passed on your love to your relos!
Bolivia, has surprised, delighted & astonished us with its amazing landscapes and at the same time stolen our hearts with its beauty but broken our hearts with its poverty. It has only been a brief affair and one we could get lost in a little longer, however Argentina will be waiting on our arrival in 2 days.
Lets talk highlights!
La Paz – Can only be described as crazy busy, polluted, dirt cheap, market stalls on virtually every street corner & everyone here drives on the wrong side of the road, by our standards anyway! We have both been lucky not to have been run over yet, we keep looking the wrong direction before crossing. The food here is AMAZING to say the least, forgive me if I keep harping on about food but its such an important part of our day – as important as the sights! Did I mention the dead llama fetuses hanging up for sale in the witches markets? They use them here to offer as a sacrifice to mother earth.
Sucre – (The Captial Of Bolivia) We were only here for 1 day but had a beautiful day strolling through the city taking pictures of the sights & seeing the city from a lookout. This city will be remembered for it's amazing dinner on the balcony of the restaurant watching the sun go down & people watching locals in the plaza across the road. Afterwards we enjoyed an indulgent dessert of chocolate cake & an iced chocolate in a beautiful chocolate shop that can only be described as the Bolivian Max Brenner.
Potosi – The worlds highest city sitting at 4070m above sea level. Once again we were here for 1 day, but this small town delievered the BEST coffee we have had to date and I am including coffee at home and an amazing vegetarian dinner. Apart from the food this town can be described as off the beaten track, with convent after convent, cathedral after cathedral against a backdrop of quarries & mines. By the end of the 18th century it was the largest & wealthiest city in Latin America due to its production of silver. Many locals still work in these deadly mines in appalling conditions, (average lifespan for the miners is 30)
Uyuni – Picture dust, lots of dust, rubble & mad max. Thats Uyuni in a nutshell or as I like to describe it, the place that Bolivia or maybe even the world forgot. This was our meeting point to be taken out to the salt flats & the desert. One night was spent here in a room we would rather forget & temperatures that were unfamiliar.
3 Day 4WD Adventure Across the Salt Flats & Desert – These 3 days will forever be 3 of the most amazing days of our lives. From crossing the Salt Flats & literally seeing salt as far as the eye could see in every direction to watching the sun set over the salt flat day 1 of the tour, this only set the stage for what the next two days would deliver. Day 2 delivered an Island covered in cactus hundreds of years old. Then, what appeared seemingly out of no-where were lakes after lakes of stunning pink flamingoes. If this wasn't enough to satisfy the senses we were then feasting our eyes on a beautiful red lake followed by a green lake and if that still wasn't enough the mind was blown further as we drove across the desert, yet off in the distance were snow/ice covered mountains & volcanoes. Day 3 we witnessed more of God's amazing creation when we came across thermal mud pots. Visualise hot red lava, now instead of lava replace that with grey mud bubbling the same way & steam issuing forth from the ground. Last but not least were the bone chilling winds we experienced, so much so that for some photo moments I simply couldn't smile. The chill from the wind against my teeth was enough to send a shiver down my spine. So far we are loving the extremes in the weather conditions.
Ok so enough about our adventures so far in the desert. I will share that while we were on our 3 day tour it was 187 years of Bolivian Independence from the Spanish. Well our Tour Guide & Driver decided they were not going to miss out on the celebrations even though they were working. Day 2 they were running 1 ½ hours late to make a start to the day as they were both incredibly hung over. Needless to say we both wore our seat belts that day & rewarded them both with NO TIP!
After an amazing 3 days (with the exception of the drunk driver) we caught a very bumpy overnight bus from Uyuni back to civilization. Much to our surprise we arrived at 5.30am in pitch black rather than the 9am arrival we were expecting. We hailed a cab, gave directions to our hostel in the best Spanish we could (not that great) and were once again surprised when our hostel was locked up! We suggested another hostel which the driver kindly took us to which was also locked up! Apparently they have curfews in La Paz we were not aware of. All out of ideas and not even a coffee shop to sit in until the sun rose, our driver suggested in Spanish another hostel. With nothing to lose we agreed to trust him and he took us to a hostel which was open. Not only did he drop us off there, he carried our bags inside, translated to the non english speaking staff that we needed a room and negotiated a price for us which was within our budget. Once again God was looking after us! Exclaimation mark necessary due to the appalling reputation Bolivian of cab drivers when it comes to tourists.
As you have probably already concluded, these travelling chicka´s have fallen in love with Boliva as well. Our only advice is to not believe all you are told about Bolivia and its “dangers.” We have not felt unsafe at all (even with the jail being in the centre of town!)LOL
Bolivia in Pics to be posted shortly.
Much love. Ciao for now.
Team LJG x