In the city of Eternal Spring

Trip Start Apr 05, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of International  , Cochabamba,
Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The moment I got on the bus to leave La Paz it felt like a weight was lifted of my shoulders. And hereby I don't mean only my backpack.

But so my bag was placed under the bus, and I sat in seat number 17, next to an older man called Jaime. The busride would take a little over 7 hours.I think we talked half of it, having the people around us listening. It felt great. He told me about his family, culture, fiestas, customs. I told him about Belgium and our beers, and our familysystem (much smaller families than in Bolivia) and schools. It was great, invigorated me and let me feel again why I was traveling.
Along the road people would hop on the bus selling things, very entertaining. From Ginseng-miracle-treatments-from-the-east (actually wouldn't they have to call it the West here), to papas rellenas (stuffed potatoes, and Jaime bought me one), to icecreams, and books about how to live healthy. Also other entertaining like panflute-playing and singing boys. 
Some people only joined part of the ride, and so was a man with some special luggage, a sheep. They threw the poor animal in the luggage-part under the bus, next to my bag. I am definitely not in Kansas, ugh, Belgium anymore :)
I was planning to head to the volunteeringproject asap, but Cochabamba got to me. I love this place. It's odd and homy at the same time. You see the regular cholla's (the typical women, fat with big colorful skirts and 2 long black braids and round hats) everywhere, and a lot of poverty, but also very western things. Big new buildings I wouldn't expect here, and hollywood-style expensive cars. Very odd... Some people are very rich, and have a total mafia-vibe hanging around them.
And now, thanks to Lizzy, a cool CSer here, I know why! This town has its richness thanks to cocaine-trade. That explains it all. Odd to look at the town knowing that now :)
Still, I love it... 
They call it the city of eternal spring. Which of course entitles the weather is truly amazing. They have nice paris-style cafes, and amazing food (including sushi, yes!) and everything is so SO cheap for us... I can treat myself to any food at any time without feeling guilty (well, moneywise that is (o: ).
I've spent over a week in Bolivia now, and keep track of my budget. I travelled a lot (including boattrips etc), went to regular restaurants (not the cheapest), stayed in nice places, didn't try to be cautious with money, and in the whole week, all included, I spent 72 euro :) Nice!
Here in Cochabamba I also treat myself several times a day to freshly squeezed orange juice, about 20 eurocents per glas, and the ladies are everywhere in the streets with their piles of oranges. They take of the peel first of the orange, with a special peeler, and then squeeze the white-looking fruit. I asked a lady why they do it like that, apperantly the taste would be softer (not 'picante') if you squeeze the fruit without the peel. Interesting!
I am meeting up with some CouchSurfers here, which adds a lot to my experience every time. Great people everywhere! We spent the day eating icecream, cake, etc. and watching the Worldcup finals. And we met up to go eat sushi. Very cool and interesting people with many stories. So thankful for this.
Also, washing clothes by hand is still the most curing/relaxing/rewarding activity ever (I have said that before many blog entries ago but want to stress it cause it is still true). It's like meditating, there's only you and your dirty clothes. You touch them, squeeze them, scrub them, fight with the dirt, and then embrace the cleanliness. Hang them to dry, and when they are dried sniff the freshly washed lothes. You realise, you did this, with your own hands. So I made my clothes deliciously clean again, with a lot of effort. It makes me so happy :) All thanks to walking around in town for 2 hours and not finding a lavanderia :)
Now looking into what to do, maybe check out Toro Toro, a national park with dinosaur footprints, maybe stay a little longer and volunteer here, maybe head to the animalpark to volunteer, so many possibilities! I heard Santa Cruz is even nicer than here, curious how long I'll stick down there one day :) Will be continued....
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