A religious experience

Trip Start Jan 09, 2007
Trip End Jul 18, 2007

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Thursday, July 12, 2007

Met up with the two Australian girls and the guy from New Zealand, Amy, Jill and Evan. We found someone willing to take us out to La Higuerra on the third attempt for 200 Bs. First we drove around the town organising his babysitter then we went to a garage, gave him 100Bs for the petrol and he ended up getting the car serviced. The spare tyre was down to wire so, thankfully, that was replaced with the spare tyre of another car in for a service. We were there for over half an hour. Both the girls seemed very ill and I wondered about the wisdom of this. The car wasn't registered and instead of number plates he had a picture of Che Guevarra front and back. Hardly any of the cars in Vallegrande had number plates, when I asked about this Manuel, the driver, just shrugged and said, the police don't bother. We had to pay a toll to get on the road to La Higuerra, very common in Bolivia. A bloke sits in a little wooden box holding a rope across the road. I asked why it was necessary to pay a toll for such a bad road and he replied, "this is Bolivia." The standard answer to everything here. It was a great drive through the mountains, there is certainly more tourist potential here than just seeing where Che died, as if that wasn't enough, the mountains and valleys are as good as I've seen anywhere. Bolivia has far from developed its tourist potential but it is trying. I saw a sign near the top of the mountain referring to Che and asked what it was about, it was pointing to a rock in the shape of Che's berret.
Pucara is a small village about half way to La Higuerra, in my original plan I had high hopes for this place but there really are minimal facilities, just a residencial and a couple of small shops. There's supposedly a micro from Vallegrande but I think that this would be a bit hit and miss.
We saw el Churo, the spot where the ambush took place but unfortunately didn't have time to climb down. If I'd have stayed overnight then I could have done it. The countryside around La Higuerra is stunning and the village is somewhat smaler than Hoyleton, one can't help wondering if Che was more interested in holidaying than starting a revolution. The taxi driver was telling me how lots of hippies turn up in October. It would be worth going back just to see a genuine hippy.
There aren't many buildings in La Higuerra but every one of them has a large picture of Che on it. The centre piece is a huge bust on top of a rock. (I'm getting one for the garden). There's a Che museum on the site of the original schoolroom where he was held and shot but the building is new. There's an old wooden chair where he allegedly sat awaiting his execution and the original doors are there. The rest of the museum is taken up with pictures and explanations in both Spanish and English. Funnily enough in both La Higuerra and Vallegrande I never saw the famous photograph of him laid out in the laundry. Perhaps they feel a little guilty about it like the jews with christ, blame it on the Romans. Considering the gory pictures of christ I've seen around the place I don't think it's because they're squirmish. I wanted to stay overnight and walk back to Pucara the next day, unfortunately I was panicking about money and the possibility of getting stuck so close to my flight time. I realise now, kicking my heels in Cochabamba, that I could have stayed and hiked to el Churo as well. Sometimes I'm over cautious, a failing that I'll have to rectify. Too late now, I suppose I got caught up in the rush with the others, they were on a real lightning tour. They had to be in Santiago and had been on 3 night buses and 2 taxis to get there. They'd only slept one night in a hostal. We left Vallegrande that evening for Cochabamba on the most cramped night bus I've been on, it was awful. I stayed in Cochabamba, they jumped on a bus to Mendoza in Argentina, two more whole days on a bus.
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