Next Time I Say Lets Go Someplace Like Bolivia ...

Trip Start Nov 22, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

.... Lets Go Someplace Like Bolivia!

After crossing through the frontier town of Villazon where the streets where alive with the hustle and bustle of developing world business as usual I remembered from previous travels, I took a bus with huge off road tires (a sign of things to come) north to the wonderful town of Tupiza. The bridges were all washed out so the trip took three times as long though the river had receded enough that I did not have to ford the river in chest deep water with my bag over my head as was the story with the bus from the previous day.

Tupiza definitely has the feel of an old Wild West town. The dusty windswept streets surrounded by a high wall of red rock canyon made this an ideal place to get acclimatized to the Bolivian way of life and the Bolivian elevation. This was also the last home of famed gunslingers Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. After they left the legal heat of The United Sates they robbed their way through Argentina and Chile before trying to go ¨straight¨ in Bolivia. It didn't work out and after robbing a mine payroll just north of the city they were chased west to San Vicente were the Bolivian army ended their lives and furthered their legend (supposedly as DNA evidence o the bodies is inconclusive).  I followed for a brief spell in their footsteps, or saddles to be exact, as I hired a horse to explore and gallop through the amazing landscape and giant slot canyons that create mazes around the town. I also relaxed with daily fruit shakes, one-dollar plates of meat potatoes and rice piled high, great Huari beers at a dollar for three pints (though the beer foams like a bastard at this elevation) and surprisingly good pizza at the anomaly of an Italian restaurant in the middle of town. Walking the countryside by day eating by evening and drinking and dancing at the disco karaoke bar with the Bolivian's who have a strange habit of dancing in a very orderly line by night.
I found a TV as super Sunday approached and so I thought I would stick around for the Super Bowl which is safe to say I thoroughly enjoyed the outcome despite the Spanish announcers screaming ¨Goal!!! ¨ like it was a soccer match at every touchdown and a few Irish coming out of left field wearing patriots paraphernalia (they also claimed to be the culprit in last summers pizza throwing incident at Fenway (see you tube). I celebrated at the disco and while I was dancing Cumbia with a Bolivian girl for a while her I guess brother came up to me and said ¨fin¨ while making a slashing motion across his throat as he lead her away.  I took this as a sign to then call it an evening.

Carnaval also coincided with my stay which brought the tasty food and beverages to new levels as well as being bombarded with water and some sort of most likely toxic foam that the little kids would spray into any open orifice they could find (and by that I mean eyes, ears and nose people) at any opportunity they could find. A few refrescos and tasty chorizo sandwiches would make it all worthwhile as the elaborate costumes of the paraders continued for about 6 hours each day of the celebration. The first pre celebration is refereed to as ¨la noche de las mujers¨ loosely translated into ladies night. I arrived fresh off the bus maybe two days before and a Bolivian man approached me and asked in Spanish if I was interested in working. Well I had not really planned on working in Bolivia as I imagined the wage would be rather low, but with my curiosity piqued I gave him an audience. He began to talk about a strip club and strippers but I wasn't really following him until he began pointing in my general direction. He was going to give me free food and drink and a train ticket northwards for five minutes of entertainment for the ladies of Tupiza. Flattered as I was, I had plans to meet a friend in Oruro (Bolivia's biggest Carnaval celebration) that night so I was forced to decline. The bus failed to arrive due to the rains and though it planned on leaving the next day estimated times ran from 17 hours to three days. I decided to forgo that option but didn't run across the gentlewomen's club owner again. But hey you know this kind of thing happens all the time (sarcasm).

I spent a week in Tupiza and wouldn't mind spending another one there but the road was calling and it was time to explore the Southwest circuit.
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