Bolivia and I have a love/hate relationship

Trip Start Mar 05, 2009
Trip End Aug 05, 2009

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Tuesday, May 19, 2009

La Paz, La Paz, where do I begin?
So, La Paz isn't really the most attractive of cities, in fact I'd go so far as to say it's pretty ugly.  However, it does have some nice cafes and the toilets aren't too bad usually as I had to get pretty well acquainted with them when my stomach decided it did not like being in La Paz at all.
But activity wise there is a lot to do based out of La Paz and I started my activities by doing the Death Road with a hangover.  I didnt think I would be hungover after a night of drinking vodka at 3,500m with some English and Irish guys as well as two guys I bumped into in La Paz who had been on the same Inka Trail as Lisa and I (I spotted them when I was sitting in a cafe and literally ran out the door and down the street after them) and let's add into the equation the Irish guy behind the bar in the hostel who loves Scottish people and was therefore pouring me drinks that were half vodka and a little juice.  OK, maybe the fact I had a hangover made sense.  But I completed the Death Road successfully without death!  It's called the Death Road as there is basically sheer cliff past the road and it's not tarmacked and it used to actually have cars, trucks etc as well as bikes on it.  Now its only bikes that are allowed on it and it is downhill all the way.  I constantly had my hands on the brakes as Im such a wimp and the cliff face is STEEP.  I was unsurprisingly the last person to complete it but I like to say this is because I was the only girl in my group and boys are all competitive.
From La Paz I decided that it was time to get back to nature and go to the Pampas.  This involved a flight in the smallest plane I've ever been in....a flight that took 45 mins whereas if I'd got the bus it would have taken me 17 hours.  Hmmmm, which transport to take....??!!  Arrived in jungle town Rurrenebaque safe and sound on their grass landing strip.  The humidity was evident from the moment I stepped out the plane and of course where there's humidity there's my massive hair!!!  NOOOO!  But I had known it would be like that so I wasn't too fussed.  I stayed at a hostel that night and started my Pampas tour the next morning which starts with a journey in a 4x4 for about 3 hours, then a boat trip for another 2.5 hours until you reach your accommodation which is basically wooden huts suspended above water and all connected by wooden ramps (you're in the Amazonian wetlands, if you're not suspended above water you're either in the water or holding tightly onto a tree).  I have never felt humidity like it in my life.  And oh my god, the mosquitoes.  The wildlife is amazing though, on the way there we saw a sloth that had clearly got lost and ended up practically on the road, howler monkeys, squirrel monkeys (that came onto the boat and went mental as a lady was eating a banana....I was convinced they were going to steal something like a camera, they appear to be cheeky little things).  We went out the first night looking for caimen and I got savaged by mosquitoes despite dousing myself in DEET.  You could have played join the dots on my bum it was that bad.  The 2nd day we went anaconda hunting but my half-hearted effort meant the only thing I spotted were reeds.  To be honest I would have screamed so loud if I'd actually spotted a snake at my feet so Im happy that the guide saw a snake and I could just wade through the water to take a look.  We also went piranha fishing (again unsuccessful for me...I could never live in the Pampas as I'd not be able to catch my own food) and that night was a relaxing night in the hammocks at the lodge.  We were given the opportunity to go and watch the sunset at 5am (the time the mosquitoes are at their peak), I quickly declined that offer as I was having a few issues with the fact my bum was on fire due to the feast they'd had on me the first night!  Last morning is when we get to go swim with the pink dolphins.  They dont jump out of the water but they make themselves known and one guy in the group got splashed a couple of times by them which was very cool.  I think it's just cool to say that I've been swimming in the Amazonian wetlands.

After the Pampas tour it was back to La Paz for one more night.  I'm not sure what happened between Rurre and La Paz but my stomach went haywire and I was not a well bunny.  I spent a night in Cochabamba miserable as well as my stomach just would not settle down and also in Cochabamba I went to visit a garden and house that is based on the Palace of Versailles and when I arrived the staff were wearing face-masks and gloves and told me I'd have to don them to be allowed entry.  I refuse to play their games and basically I laughed and walked out because the sign said it was for the safety of the staff and visitors.  I didnt even want to enter the house which meant I would have been wearing a face-mask and gloves in an open space.  I have never heard anything so ridiculous in my life.  Clearly my cynical side was coming out in Cochabamba!

To Cochabamba it was a not-very-short-at-all trip to Uyuni for my 3 day Salar de Uyuni tour.  Uyuni is absolutely FREEZING during the night and so is the Salar.  I've not got time to get my photos up at the moment but basically I spent 3 days in the desert, but a cold desert because its so high up.  I stayed in a Salt Hotel for one night and then some sort of 3rd world accommodation the 2nd night but I actually didnt mind as I was really warm under my sleeping bag and 4 blankets in the bed that had a base most similar to a normal bed base.  Poor french dude in our group had a base of stone!  However, I think he deserves that somewhat as when we had to get up at 4.30am on our last morning, without asking he took a picture of me just after I'd woken up.  That's just plain rude! 

Made it into Chile on Saturday afternoon and had randomly bumped into a German girl that I met at my very first stop in Buenos Aires so hung out with her in San Pedro de Atacama.  But that's another blog for another day!
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