Adventure, humidity, more hills and sand flies

Trip Start Sep 03, 2011
Trip End Jun 04, 2012

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Where I stayed
Villa Bonita

Flag of Bolivia  ,
Monday, January 30, 2012

Coroico was a nice little detour in the sub-tropics although we have been back a week and our sandfly bites are itchy as anything, but we have had our yellow fever shots, we have some cortisone cream and antihistamines plus our hostel owner assured us that there were no malaria carrying insects that high, so we are good. 

While in Coroico though we did get to zip-line, it was awesome. Friday morning we organised with our hostel owners to go zip-lining with a group called Zzip the Flying Fox. We were geared up with the usual belts, harnesses, safety gear and a "brake" that had been developed here in Bolivia. We were ready to go. Hannah and I rode on the roof of the 4WD to the starting point (he offered the roof once the boys were all in the vehicle) I hoped it was not an indication of their safety standards. That alone was thrilling enough up the windy roads, past waterfalls and cliffs. We eventually got to the start of the zipline trail that consisted of three lines that zig-zagged over the river in the valley. The first was the highest and was three hundred metres above the rocky, white-water river. The second was the fastest with speeds around the 80kmph mark. The last was the longest at almost 600 metres. The whole trail was 1.5 kilometres long. It was pretty cool to see the jungle from above the canopy and to be up so high among the vultures circling lazily in the thermals.

The whole thing took us about 45 mins. Of course I was the loudest and first to go down, it was exhilarating and exciting and it required NOISE... A long wooooo hoooooooo! My kids thought it was funny. The rush down definitely required noise just like giving birth  requires noise. The rush of the wind as you speed toward the stop is just amazing until you remember that you have to watch out for the guide's signal flag, green to keep going  and red to slow down. "How many tugs on the brake am I supposed to do?  Oh! I'm going to crash into the post in the hut argh....oh found the brake and they do have that wooden block to help absorb the impact and a huge soft sack to crash into ... I'm alive and that was awesome! Let me go again!" That is how it was for me. I loved it! I couldn't believe that we had done it and was sad it was over so soon.  

When we were finished we began walking back up the hill to the waterfall we passed on the way up to zip line but we got hot and breathless and came back down. After that,  we wandered around Yolosa until our taxi arrived to take us back up to Coroico. It was a hot, sticky afternoon as we looked for a clean spot and access to the river unsuccessfully.  A wandering Hungarian named Attila (seriously: Attila the Hungarian) told us that there was nowhere clean to swim as all the locals go upstream to wash and clean their clothes and do "other stuff".  The humidity, it was like being back in Queensland, so as we dragged ourselves around we shared Queensland stories. It even smelled like rotting mangoes. Ahhhh, Brisbane in the Summmer. Anywhere we go there is alway something that reminds us of Australia. Believe it or not, there is a lot about the Altiplano that reminds us of Tassie except for the breathlessness, oh no that is from being unfit!

Anyway, from Yolosa to Coroico is an 8km drive up hill. The town is centered around the Plaza with homes and businesses spreading both up and down the mountainside, so if we walked up our way back would be down or vice-versa.  There are no ATMs in town but there is a little credit agency that will advance you money on the proviso that they keep 5%. A nice little earner! The food places were a bit dodgy and it was tough to decide where to eat in town. We did go for pizza one afternoon, and the glasses smelled of lamb fat, so,we drank out of the bottle and ate the pizza from the pan as ther were no clean plates, apparently.

We stayed at a hostel called Villa Bonita owned and run by a Swiss expat Gianni, his Bolivian wife Ninfa and their 3 young children. We stayed in their 2 bungalows separate from their house. They served lovely breakfasts and dinner and made the most delicious home-made icecream (one of the flavours was "lavender" very nice). Ninfa had spent a year in Tasmania as an exchange student in 1996. She was very excited to talk to us. She had stayed in Latrobe and said it changed her life. Poor girl. Their 3 children, 2 girls Aisha, Ahava and a little boy Amadeus were very cute and great little helpers to their parents, sweeping and setting tables. Ninfa and Gianni bought the house from a German expat and then eventually added the two bungalows, pretty idyllic and inspiring.

The Villa Bonita was a 1k downhill from the main Plaza and main township with views looking out to the sub tropical valley which was very green, don't ask me which direction we were looking out to as I have lost all sense of direction in all these valleys and mountains. The two bungalows we stayed in, one had an ensuite and 2 beds and a fold out sofa which the kids took and we took the other which also had 2 beds and a sofa bed but an outside bathroom, they were pretty rustic.  The showers had a supply of 10 seconds worth of hot water and  moldy shower curtains, pretty basic, but the hospitality, the views and setting amongst the trees made up for it. Gianni also offered us the use of his meditation area but we did not get up early enough, although our first morning while I was on the toilet doing the usual morning meditation,  I was interrupted by a "ooommm, ooommm, ooommm". I hoped that Gianni didn't hear me concentrating too hard. Our first night in Coroico we found ourselves "insect food", they went for any exposed skin they could find and they were coming into our bungalows without an invitation, RUDE! So the next day Andrew and I did the hunt for the fly and insect spray in Coroico, and after a couple of humerous attempts at a few little stalls we discovered that we needed to be asking for "Baygon". Good old recognisable brand names. The next night we fumigated within an inch of our lives, found it hard to breath and had tingly tongues but we killed the little suckers and slept with a minimum of gnawing sand flies. 

While in Coroico Gianni also put us onto the cheap Dental Services on offer here in Bolivia and referred us to a good Dentist in La Paz that could put a new crown on Campbell's tooth now that he is adult sized for a reasonable price. Campbell was so excited.

After 2 nights stay, a contribution of blood to the insect population, the ride of death down the road of the same name and zip lining high over a sub tropical river we headed back to La Paz with our taxi driver in his van back over the mountains that the kids rode down. Our driver was funny, he got a bit tired driving over the steep windy roads, constantly consuming coca leaves to help with the altitude, then at one of the pitstops it seemed as if a guy asked for a ride into La Paz their was a discussion and pointing at us, then our driver scooted over and the new guy drove, hilarious because the new guy had trouble driving stick shift, we were in safe hands? We did arrive safely.  As we did drive back to La Paz, it was hard to believe the kids had rode down the same road but they had ... my "daredevils". I had hoped to be just as daring and book in to do the ride but I am having trouble with my hands and fingers being stiff and swollen. I think that capable fingers and hands are a necessity to work the hand breaks and the kids are worried  that I would end up being one of the 200 that die going down the "Road of Death".
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