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Cochabamba Travel Blog

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Well I got in to Villa Tunari. A small town indead. I like smaller towns, but it was slightly strange. It was a jungle town. Small poor with very little travelers, but there were some really nice hotels. Very strange. They had the central square all torn up and I walked around forever before finding a hostal. Actually, I like the fact that there are few travelers. Although due to the current situation, fewer people are traveling on this side.

The ride there was spectacular. It reminded me of Colombia. Beautiful lush mountains up in the clouds. The route going there was really strange. I want to look at a topographic map at some point. But Cochabumba itself is warmer and usually sunny. But on the bus, we past through highlands again where it was freakin cold. As we made our descent, the terrain changed to total jungle, warmer and clouded. The view was so memorable. I was excited to get out of the cold. I was afraid everywhere I went it was going to be like that.

Anyways, found hostal finally. She was going to put me a room further from the reception that was cheaper with shared bathroom. There were just two other girls staying there. As I was putting my stuff down, she said that it would be better to change to the room next to the reception bathroom included for the same price for safety reasons. I learned that early that morning or at some point in the night, one of the rooms had been robbed. An American guy with his Bolivian girlfriend were robbed as they had their window open. The screen was cut. They didn´t touch her stuff but swipped the dude of his money and passport. That same night, as I was told, the same happened to two Spanish girls at another hostal....stolen passports. I really wanted to go to another place, but logic reads that, unless really stupid, perpetrators don´t go to the same place in a row. My luck was better staying. I made sure the window locked and made my way out to visit Inti Wari Yassi... the reason for my visit here.

It is a wildlife reserve and rescue center. Matt and I talked about volunteering here together. Well, I arrived and asked if I could tour around. I was told that because of the dreary weather lately the animals are a bit on edge. I was told that if I waited at the restaurant outside there would be new volunteer tour and maybe I could join in. Well...... Let´s just say that the first image was this guy with his face and head all bandaged up. Not really encouraging. He was German and a tourist who decided to do walk through the monkey mirador on his own. From what I understand, he had some cigarettes in his pocket that this monkey really wanted. Instead of just letting the monkey have a smoke he tried to fight it off. It bit the back of his head, his ear and check and he had to have stitches by the vets there. As people were coming down to the restaurant to retire for the day over a lot of beer... They were all torn up. Only saw a couple with bandages and others had all their clothes ripped up. As I was talking to the volunteers, I was hearing from very different perspectives. Some absolutely loved it. While others were counting the days until their term was up. I did finally go on the tour,  but not through the whole park. I decided it wasn´t my thing. Even though it is a rehab and rescue, I still don´t like the idea of caged animals. They are constructing larger structures and the park is actually quite sizable. The cats have their own jungle trails where their keepers take them daily. I can´t imagine trying to run and keep up with a puma through the jungle. Are you crazy? One chic came down crying. An auzzie I think, she had given it a go for a couple of days and she just couldn´t stay with the same cat. Her partner was saying the same thing. Although there are a lot of volunteers from all over the world, they are short staffed and short on funds. Great project though and I´m so glad I visited. I was invited back the next morning to do the tour on my own. I think not. Although I was wanting to see more, I didn´t really want to be jumped on by any animal.

I didn´t really sleep that night. I had a dresser put in front of the door, the window locked. The windows in the bathroom didn´t lock so the best I could do was close the bathroom door. I had my shit spread all over the place so if robbed they would have a difficult time making sense of the stuff. I slept with my money and passport down my pants and other valuable under my pillow. I woke at every sound. I think there were rats or something in the wall. But, in sleep it sounded like screen being cut. I was up all night and ready to get out of there. Interesting thing about the couple who ran the hostal. They were both new to the area and just recently took over the hostal. She is Ecuadorian and he is french. It´s so funny to hear french and italian accents so heavy in Spanish. Anyways. She lived for one year at the Hare Krishna temple in Quito and knows people at the Temple in Chacra y Mar. Very interesting that we live in such a small world.

In the morning I asked around about buses to Santa Cruz. Obviously the roads are blocked again. The area or state of Santa Cruz wants to be seperated from Bolivia and just a few weeks ago they were voting on changes to the constiution. The country is in a little bit of an uproar. I was forced to return to Cochabumba. I was told that I could get to Santa Cruz on the other side of the lake, but both roads are closed. So here I sit at the terminal until I can get a bus to Sucre. I so wanted to go there. Its supposed to be more afro-brazilian and a great vibe. It is also a center for a lot of political tension. Looks like my visit here is going to be a lot shorter. Maybe that´s ok.

I here Sucre is beautiful and I just hope that I can pass through the miner town of Potosi. There are frequent road blocks there as well. I´ll be fine.

Bolivians, from what I have seen, outside of La Paz have a very very lacksidazicle (spelling ?). There can be tons of people in a restaurant, at a ticket counter, in line and people will just act like no one is there. It is tooth and cheek trying to get anyone to actually wait on you. You have to push, be very loud and agressive. Even that doesn´t really work. They really move at their own time.

I just wish that I spoke better Spanish so I could get into some deeper conversations with the people here. If there is one thing for sure, Bolivians are very political active and very vocal about their beliefs. Total democracy in action. Although it is in almost constant upheavel, Bolivians can take to the streets and make things happen. It seems that everyone seems to love Evo Morales.

Well, I guess that´s it until Sucre.

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I was in La Paz for one night. It was too much for me. It was dirty, crowded, polluted, busy and very much overwhelming. Not to mention I almost died. There are stop lights, but no one really stops. People were just crossing and I was getting impatient.  I started to cross with enough time, but I was looking at the traffic and not at the road. I didn´t realize there was a huge dip in the road and I splattered. I got up quickly, stratched a bit, but made it out before oncoming traffic. That image still haunts me. That´ll learn me.

Well, I left the next morning for Cochabumba. The ride was beautiful as usual. Cochabumba is a very different sort of city. Busy, tons of vendors, disorganized and functioning well at the same time. Very poor bad areas and very nice areas. Although not a great city, it is supposed to be one of the most economically thriving cities. I choose to hang around the main square as much as possible. The first day was trying to get to the net, clean some laundry and find food. By the time I was making my way back to the hostal, it was getting dark and the hostal was in an area not so great. I did happend to find a used sweatshirt and pair of pants. Not bad shape actually both for less that $4. Couldn´t believe mine ripped through like that. I guess having only one pair of pants for months is not such a great idea. I found a market near to where I got the clothes.  I think that was the market in the sketchy part of town.... not really sure. I was grabbed several times, which freaked me out. There were two teenage boys totally tripping on something and were double teaming people. I was very aware of this whole spitting thing that happens which was meantioned a lot in the travel guide. It hasn´t happened yet. Thank god. Apparently, someone will spit on you, usually older women or young kids and as you are trying to wipe it off, that cut your bags. Needless to say, I was a bit nervous the first night and retired very early to my hostal room. Very angry at myself for being so afraid, I was determined to go out the next night for a drink.

The next day was ok. Can´t really remember what I did besides, find a quasi-Indian restaurant and ask around about buses. Oh yeah, stopped at two cafes throughout the day. Very nice. Well it was starting to get dark and I decided that I wanted to go to this pub all the way across town. I was determined. I did and the same guys make their rounds apparently. They tried to grab at me again and I was followed by some guy in a car for a while until he finally gave up. I drank the local brew. The biggest bottle they had. I hadn´t eaten anything since early afternoon so I was really feeling it. Leaving I thought I should catch a cab, but decided that I needed to prove to myself that I´m not that intimated. I set out and made my way back fine. The hostal I was staying at seemed to only have locals staying there. Not a big deal, but there was this guy lounging in the doorway on the way to the bathroom who kept trying. The guys do that a lot hear. Hola preciosa. As if the girls are going to melt in their arms. I was a little more nervous the second night in the hostal. But all ok again.

The next day I decided it was time to leave and find a slightly smaller town...

photo by: jendara