We arrived in Bolivia last Friday and spent the first night in the wealthy city of Santa Cruz. The hotel was supposed to have a sauna and a swimming pool, but the former wasn´t on, and the latter was ice cold but we bravely had a swim nevertheless. It was like swimming in a lake in Finland in the winter, but without the sauna. Brrrr….
The next day we continued to Sucre, a pretty colonial style town where all the buildings are painted white. Sucre is 2,700m above sea level and you really feel it. It´s a weird feeling trying to walk up a couple of flights of stairs and feeling really light headed and out of breach immediately! On the first night I got altitude sickness in the form of a banging headache. The next day we bought a bag of coca leaves from the local market, and have been having several cups of coca tea every day since, which seems to be working well so we´ve both been feeling fine since.
Everything and everyone looks very different here, it feels like like being in one of the Tintin books. The local indigenous women carry their babies in beautiful coloured cloths on their backs, and wear the black hats – it´s like reading a National Geographic magazine.
We had a couple of days taking it easy in Sucre to acclimatise for Potosi and La Paz (which are at 4,000m), so we just lazied around, ate lots of excellent food (the locals have a dish called “Mountain of food” – mmm) and drank the lovely local wine. On Monday night we ended up in a local club/karaoke bar where yours truly performed an excellent rendition of the Dancing Queen 🙂
The bus trip to Potosi yesterday was a bit of a nightmare as the bus driver was speeding down this twisty-turny mountain road, and then he blew a tyre. The locals started screaming and the bus slowed down to a halt. As Ville and I had heard the very sad news about the bus crash in Malaga (10 Finnish holiday makers died, several more were injured) we were both quite worried about the rest of the journey, as the replacement tyre (or indeed any of the tyres) had very little surface left on them…
We got to Potosi (a mining town with a very sad past) in the end, and for the first time on the journey I felt like we were far, far away from home. “Toto, we´re not in Kansas anymore”.