The heart of Bolivia

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Wednesday, November 28, 2012

We got in to La Paz and got a taxi straight to The Wild Rover, a bustling Irish hostel in the centre of the city. Day 1, we took a stroll around the witches market and the other main markets for cheap, fake goods. Of course, we couldn`t buy anything as our bags were already overflowing. After this we grabbed a taxi to the Megacentre, which is a brand new shopping centre. Here, we went to a state of the art cinema to see Skyfall in English. The whole trip between taxis, food and tickets cost us €4 each. We were delighted with ourselves! That evening, we priced tours for our duration of LA Paz and then headed to the bar. We met really cool people here from all over the world. Our favourite being a really funny, South Korean guy called Hennis. After a few games of pool with our new friends (which Eoin won 6 out of 7), we headed to bed to be fresh for the morning as we were going cycling down the 43 mile, extremely narrow, rocky Death Road. The road got christened as 200-300 people died on this road every year up to 2006. A new road was built at this time, however some locals still risk their lives travelling this road every year. Our cycle was a fantastic experience as it was thrilling, whilst also being downhill for 3 hours. We didn`t pass much traffic on route and we stopped regularly enough to take in the breath-taking scenery. The gang in our tour group were really nice and we all headed for food after in a local hostel off Death Road. When we got back to the hostel, we met up with a friend of ours Jessica Lynch from Innishannon. It was an extreme coincidence that we bumped into her here as she did not expect to be in La Paz at the same time as us (having already been here on more than one occasion). Up to this point we were going in totally different directions. We took our encounter as an excuse to go celebrating in the bar, where there happened to be a UV party. Great craic was had! I (Patrice) had felt a bit off form since we arrived in La Paz but it wasn`t until day 3 where I felt really bad. While I was recovering, Jessica and Eoin headed off to the VIP Section of the cinema where they sat in recliner seats and hot food served to them (Jealous!). Day 4, we said our good-byes to Jessica and organised our trip to the Jungle for the next day. Our South Korean friend, Hennis decided to join us for the 3 days. Our flight to the Jungle was at 6.15 but ended up being delayed until 9.00. When we eventually got on to the plane, it ended up being a tiny, 20 seater where myself and Eoin were sitting right behind the pilots. It was quite scary as we could see and hear everything that was going on and the pilots seemed to be having too much fun for our liking whilst flying the plane. Day 1 in the Jungle, we got a 3 hour 4x4 jeep and a 2 hour motorised canoe up the river to our campsite. Along the way, we saw crocodiles, alligators, capybara (largest rodent in the world which look like pigs), monkeys, pink dolphins and loads of different birds. That evening, we took our head torches with us on the boat to look at crocodiles eyes light up in the river. There were 8 of us in the group and we all got on very well. That night, we had a really nice dinner cooked for us and headed off to our room. All rooms were at a height to avoid frogs, crocodiles or other reptiles coming into spend time with us. We were surrounded by mosquitoes and hence had to have nets over us while we slept. The next morning, we donned wellies and went out to marshes in search of anacondas. We literally had muck and shit up to our thighs. We were destroyed! After spending 3 hours in this area, we eventually found an anaconda in the grass close to our boat. Our guides were delighted to find it as they hadn`t seen one in 2 weeks. One of the guides wrapped the anaconda around his arm and even got bitten by him. Turns out, their bite is not poisonous so the guide was ok. After, we went back for lunch, followed by a siesta and an evening piranha fishing. We caught nothing! The guide caught catfish and served it to us with dinner after. It looked and tasted disgusting. Our final day in the Jungle just involved more animal/bird watching and the option to swim with dolphins (which Eoin took up). We said our good byes at about 4 o clock and went to catch a bus back to La Paz. We decided to try this out in place of the plane as it was a cheaper option. Never again!! This should have been a 16 hour bus but ended up lasting over 30 hours. We left at 11 o clock on a really stormy night. It felt like the lightning was right over the bus. The roof even started leaking on myself and Eoin and we had to make tents out of our rain jackets. This continued into the early hours. At 7 in the morning, we arrived at roadworks which ended at 4 in the evening. Rather than let the bus pass, we literally waited for 9 hours in the middle of nowhere. When the bus struck off again, it appeared that we were travelling on a section of Death Road. It was quite scary when we met traffic and had to reverse or squeeze past. At one point on the road, 5 of 12 bolts came off the wheel. The driver and lads from the bus had to go back the road looking for the bolts but could only find 3, screwed them back on and we drove off. At one point after this, we reckon we were up on 2 wheels. Thought we were goners! To recover from the bus trip, we stayed an extra day in La Paz before heading off to Copacabana, close to the Peruvian border. We were sorry that our time in Bolivia was coming to an end as we really loved the place. Peru is supposed to be amazing also so looking forward to that.
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