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Ben and Ange - On the Road

Relaxing in Bolivia

BOLIVIA | Monday, 5 May 2008 | Views [836]

Bolivians, burros and big trucks.

Bolivians, burros and big trucks.

After making our way through the south of Bolivia and about to embark on our volunteer mission, we´ve paused and thought just what have we done in the last couple of weeks. A whole lot of relaxing is the answer. After our hiking and rafting and this and that we have pretty much just taken in the sights and well, adapted to Bolivia time. It´s not to say that we haven´t done anything at all, just not the hell for leather pace that we were at. And Bolivia is perfect for relaxing and enjoying the lifestyle.

After leaving Uyuni we headed to the once prosperous city of Potosi. Potosi was once the richest city in all of South America (and a lot of Eurpean cities) due to the huge amount of silver that was contained in the hill over looking the city. Most of the silver actually ended up in Spain and the life of a miner was pretty short, almost as short as it still is today. They last about 20 years before they have to quit due to Silcosis of the lungs and then die shortly after. Fun huh! Last time i complain about my job. There is a documentary just been released about the story of a 14 year old in the mines that i would recomend just so you can see the conditions.

You can actually take a tour of the mine but we decided not to. Ange for the fact that she just couldn´t bear to see the conditions the workers are in and me because, well i´d be on my own and the fact that the place is full of gas, dust and aspestos (remember they can only work for 20 years). The town does bear the fruits of the hey days though, so the plaza and buildings around the centre are great to look at. So we just walked around the city for a few days, ate lunch in the market which is certainly an experience (still alive though!) and took in the town.

From Potosi it was on to Sucre, the cultural and juditial capital of Bolivia. And if you ask the people of Sucre, it is the capital of Bolivia. Not sure what it is about the place, but you have some places saying they´re the capital and other places wanting to go on their own entirely. Good luck trying to keep it all together.

Sucre is a lovely white washed city, if fact they call it the white city. All the building are of course white, until you start getting to the outskirts that is. In total we spent almost a week in Sucre once again just walking around the town and taking in the sights. We did do a couple of Spanish lessons while we were there so,, Nosotros somos Ben e Angela. Nosotros estamos mui bien,,, and a little bit more but that´s about it.

 While in Sucre we visited Parque Cretacicos (sp) which is aparently the largest collection of dinosaur footprints in the world. The footpints are actually vertical now though so it does make for good viewing. Discovered by a cement factory just out of town. The only reason they are still there is because the soil that holds the prints was not suitable for cement manufacture.

Apart from the dino prints we just ate and drank our way around Sucre. We stumbled accross a very fancy resturant by accident. Waiters all dressed up and the tables on the grass, we thought about leaving but decided to go for it anyway. So after our filet migons and bottle of chardonay and the rest we parted with 200 Bolivianos (you can get full 3 course meals for 14 at most markets), which is probably more than a weeks salary to most, but is about 35 aussie dollars.

One of the reasons we stayed in Sucre so long, apart from the fact it is a very nice city just to walk around, is our hostal room. Close to the centre it was also a very large room so we could spread our stuff everywhere and it had a tv. The best part though was that it was cheap cause we went for the shared bathroom. What this meant was that the lady locked the bathroom that was actually in our room (they tried to sell us the whole bathroom bit). Not to worry. A quick look at the lock and it nothing more than an allen key, out came the pocket knife and after a couple of seconds we had ourselves a very cheap room with ensuite. Which was extra handy in the fact that the shared bathrooms were a very long way away.

On from Sucre we headed to Santa Cruz, the place that wants to be independent. Getting there though was a 15 hour bus ride over mostly gravel roads through the hills. Most of it was at night and i´m glad cause some of the hills we climbed and the state of the road i did not want to look down. The transformation of the the country-side though was extreme. Until this point we had pretty much been in very dry and coolish climates, but now we had hit the jungle. The hills are very lush and the air is now warm and humid, at least for the first day. Lulled into a false sense of sucurity we were. After pulling out our shorts and exposing our white legs the next day it poured down, all day, and the warm humid air turned chilly. Oh well.

Santa Cruz is the financial powerhouse of Bolivia. As such it is not as cheap as the rest of the country. It also is not that spectacuar. It´s nice don´t get me wrong but apart from the plaza it´s very,,well,,,western!. You could be anywhere but Bolivia in this city. It has shopping complexes and artsy pubs and resturants and clothing stores. Not the hustle and bustle of the cramped and smelling markets from other towns.

From Santa Cruz we´ve made a little back journey to Samaipata. A little town in the hills about a hundred k´s from Sanat Cruz. A COLD little town that is the site of some pre inca ruins called El Fuerte. Located on top of a hill and all carved out of the top of the hill itself. It made for a great day of wondering what on earth each little design and carved out space was used for. After analysing it for ourselves Ange finally came up with it. A gigantic pre-incan brewery! Not to positve on that, but i´m sure it´s a lot closer than the fools who think it was a landing pad for ancient space craft. After our keen senses of deduction were put to rest we walked home down through the hills enjoying the view.

In the town itself we´ve pretty much made ourselves at home in the hostal, mostly due to the dog and the cat with it´s couple of kittens. Enjoyed the local markets with it´s amazing fruit and veg stalls, and the outside butchers stalls complete with cows heads.

So there you go, a very long blog entry about not much. But it has been a very nice relaxing couple of weeks enjoying Bolivian life.


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