It has been quite a while since we’ve written up a little update of our South American travel adventures. Don’t worry it wasn’t because of lack of motivation, but because even though Bolivia has many many great things to offer, fast WiFi isn’t one of them. We are currently in Cusco, Peru and the speed of the internet has picked up significantly, so I’m sure we’ll be able to catch up.
The full recline cama bus that Matt talked about in our last post was very luxurious indeed. The only problem being that it was freezing cold and we didn’t have a funky tiger print blanket like our Bolivian fellow passengers. When we arrived in La Paz in the morning we decided to ignore our lack of sleep and dropped our bags of at the hostel after huffing and puffing quite a lot walking the 8 blocks uphill (high altitude makes u feel very unfit) to go to the gigantic Sunday market in El Alto. We only managed to cover a small section of the market but already saw a great variety of goods, from fake football shirts to car parts and puppies. Matt tried to buy one of the before mentioned football shirts but the lady behind the stall decided that they were all way too small for his massive gringo chest, even though there were obviously shirts in his size lying there. We have noticed in quite a few places in Bolivia that some people in shops really don’t seem to be very bothered to sell you anything, which was a little bit strange.
That afternoon I managed to do quite a lot of souvenir shopping in La Paz anyway and decided to send a package home with some colourful clothing and gifts for my family. The whole process in the post office was pretty hilarious. I had to go to a shop within the post office to buy a standard cardboard box and had to go back twice because the people behind the post office counter couldn’t decide which size was best. In the end they decided the biggest box would have to do but they had to cut of some bits to keep it under the 2kg limit. Hopefully this box with my mums address written on in giant letters in permanent marker will get there, but we will have to wait and see.
Apart from shopping we didn’t do too much in La Paz except walk around and up to a viewpoint (I thought I was going to have a heart attack at various points during the climb, but we made it in the end). After two days in chaotic La Paz we decided to do the ‘Death Road’ cycle ride. You cycle down from 4600 meters in La Cumbre to 1200 meters, needless to say we didn’t have to put in that much effort ourselves, gravity did most of the work. The second and longest half of the trip goes over the ‘ruta de la muerta’, which used to be the main connection between La Paz and Corioico and where on average every two weeks a vehicle would fall off the edge.
I wasn’t surprised at all that this road used to take so many lives. It’s incredibly narrow, windy, bumpy and every now and then you have to cross a sort of small river (that is flowing over the road) or go underneath a small waterfall. Cycling down was really fun and I didn’t feel out of control at any point, but according to our guide 50 cyclists have died in the 14 years that there have been tours down the road. Bit scary.
After we were officially ‘survivors of death road’ (the only damage being one blister on my hand from braking so much) we decided to hop on a local bus to Coroico and stay there a few nights. Coroico was really pretty with really green vegetation on the mountains. We went for a nice walk (which according to the guy in the restaurant would take 45 minutes and ended up taking more than 1h30. Pretty sure he had always taken the bus.) to some waterfalls where you can swim in. Very refreshing indeed (and cold!).
After our stay in Coroico we took a mini bus back to La Paz with a not so cautious driver (I mean, overtaking in tunnels is never a good idea if you ask me.) but we got there in one piece anyway. The reason we had to go back to La Paz was to catch our flight to Rurrenabaque in the Amazon, but more on that next time.