Stuck in a shut down town

Trip Start Jun 07, 2008
Trip End Sep 14, 2008

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Where I stayed
Hotel Paulista

Flag of Bolivia  ,
Tuesday, August 19, 2008

First a bit of backstory: After leaving Potosi by bus, I stopped for a few hours in Sucre, and then for a full day (but no nights) in Santa Cruz. It wasn't that there was nothing of interest to me in these towns, but by this point I was getting close enough to the end of my trip to realize that I just didn't have time to spare if I was going to make it all the way through Brazil to Bogota.

Trinidad was supposed to be another quick stop on my way west to the jungle, but it turned into a two day visit thanks to the political protests which shut down much of eastern Bolivia following the recent referendum. My bus pulled into town just before sunrise and I bought a ticket to get out of town that same evening before taking a motorbike taxi to the main plaza. Finding no restaurants open at that early hour, I walked to the local market, outside of which I found a few dozen people eating some completely foreign looking substance. I decided to give it a shot and it turned out to be delicious. Called tujure, it's sort of a thick pudding made from corn and served in a bowl with milk and sugar. To get slightly ahead of myself, the next morning I went back to the market and tried a different version made from plantains called payuje which was just as good. Too bad I never found them again after Trinidad.

Back to that first morning. After eating, I walked back to the plaza, had a seat on a park bench, and read while waiting for the rest of the town to open up. As the hours passed, nothing seemed to change. I wandered around and observed men on motorcycles setting up roadblocks on all the main streets into town. Saw groups of men walking around with big wooden sticks and heard fireworks going off. All of this was vaguely menacing, but it never got especially scary. Gradually it became clear that this town was shut down for the day, so I spent about twelve hours either on that park bench or wandering the surrounding blocks. The only food available was from a stall set up outside selling the usual chicken and rice. I was eager to get on my bus as evening approached, but when I arrived at the bus station I was informed that the bus would not be departing due to a lack of passengers. I reluctantly trudged back into town and found myself a bed for the night. Thankfully, the strike ended around sundown and the restaurants and internet cafes slowly opened up. The following morning I got on a bus and was finally moving again.

You'll find a few Trinidad photos in the Rurrenbaque flickr set.
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