It's day 300 and I am back on the chicken bus.

Trip Start Oct 06, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Monday, August 1, 2005

Let me make one thing perfectly clear; Bolivia rocks!! After four great months in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, it's fun to be back in Bolivia where everything is different and a "tad" more chaotic. I really enjoyed Bolivia when visiting for a few days some years ago, and I am sure I will have a great time now as well. The "Tibet of the Americas" really is a wonderful country. It's unbelievably scenic and they have everything from jagged peaks, salt flats, jungle, altiplanos, volcanoes, waterfalls, tortuous rivers, gorgeous rock formations, pampas, heaps of national parks and reserves with teaming wildlife, ruins from ancient civilizations, vibrant cities, a colorful culture and the world's highest everything. To name a few. A perfect country for adventure travel as well as some chilling. The only thing they are missing I guess are the beaches, as the country is landlocked (similar to Paraguay). But then they share Lake Titicaca with Peru. Bolivia is also one of the poorest (if not the poorest) country in Latin America. It's incredibly cheap (again, similar to Paraguay) here for a Western tourist, and the country also have the highest percentage of indigenous people in Latin America. More than half the population in fact. Bolivia is also the capital (maybe shared with Peru) of the electric shower. The electric shower head, an useless invention I put in the same category as the electric banana straightener and solar powered flash light. Make sure you put on those rubber soled flip flops before enjoying the trickle of water. And a trickle it is, because as soon as you try to increase the water pressure, the water temperature will go from lukewarm to freezing. Just what I need mid-winter at 4070 meters.

It's day 300 of my trip, and I am on my way from Potosi to Sucre. It's only a three hours chicken bus ride through some lovely mountain scenery. I planned on staying for a few days in Potosi, but then ended up leaving after just two days. The reason being that I had a slight cold and fever, and hence felt a bit miserable in the cold weather (at night) and altitude. Potosi is the world's highest city at 4070 meters above sea level. It's a beautiful city (UNESCO World Heritage), and due to it's silver mines it used to be the largest and wealthiest in Latin America. A few centuries ago that is. Apparently as many as eight million people working the mines have died from diseases, accidents or toxics since the city was founded in 1545. People are still working the mines (mostly for lead and zinc), and it's said that on average the miners die about ten years after entering the mines due to different toxics etc. The mines are also one of Potosi's biggest tourist attractions (at least for backpackers). You usually buy the miners some gifts, like alcohol, tobacco, coca leaves or explosives and then go on 3-5 hours excursions, scrambling and crawling your way down shafts and ladders. However, I ended up skipping the excursion due to my cold, and I also missed out on one of Bolivia's finest museums (Casa Real de la Moneda), as it was closed the day I planned on going. Not a big deal, I liked the city, but I am now looking forward to Sucre and it's warmer climate (elevation 2790m, that's practically sea level in Bolivia).
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