I awoke fairly early to gray misty skies, but a pleasant warmth in the air and made some coffee with the excellent Yungas local variety that I had bought the day before. It was strong and rich and tasted wonderful. I put on my headphones and was listening to Russian choral music, wishing I were at home going to mass in the Ukrainian church in Cleveland, and then having breakfast and seeing my family, it being Sunday. The beauty of the surroundings helped me meditate and I enjoyed this for a while before Anita awoke and we went down for breakfast. After a walk around the grounds we met up with Damian and Paola and got our things together, paid for our stay (this being Bolivia, a paltry $7 per night per person including food from the night before and breakfast!) and went on our way.
The others were mocking me because I kept saying, “my guide book says…” In this case it was supposed to be a 20 minute walk to the town but the taxi ride the day before through the mud seemed a lot longer than that. I decided to time it and sure enough (subtracting for the 7 minutes that Damian and I cooled our heels waiting for the very slow chattering magpies to catch up halfway down) it was twenty minutes on the dot when we reached Coroico. I couldn’t resist pointing that out to them given all the jokes over the past day about my infallible guide book.
Damian and I went to the terminal to buy tickets for our return to La Paz
later and then we convened in the plaza to decide about the rest of the day.
View To Yungas Valley
It was by now too late to do the two hour hike to the waterfall, and to be honest, after the bike ride of the day before, none of us really had the energy or will to make a long hike so we decided to have lunch in the German restaurant. I chose the sauerbraten and spatzle that turned out to be excellent. At $6 for the meal it was one of the more expensive places in town but for me well worth it. I needed a fix of some familiar food and that did the trick. The views overlooking the Yungas valley from the patio were stunning and we stayed awhile just soaking in the sun and enjoying the ambiance. Anita and I made a visit to the church and then we joined up again for a coffee at a little café specializing in organic Yungas coffee.
Anita, Paola & Damian
“Organic” doesn’t have as much meaning here in Bolivia because most of the products are de facto organic, in that the majority of the farmers and producers are too poor or don’t have access to chemicals and specialized fertilizers and insecticides for their crops. This is some of the healthiest, most untreated food in the western hemisphere. Really, you can taste that too. It’s not always the fanciest, but it tastes incredibly fresh. I chose to sit out in the courtyard and worship the intense sun but the smell of the coffee brewing was almost too hard to resist. It was about five times more expensive than the other coffee and I didn’t justify buying some. I already had some that I had bought the day before from another shop.
Cholita By Cafe
Before getting on our combi van I experienced some terrifying apprehensions, like I had never felt in my life. I had premonitions of the van swaying and tipping over from its load and tumbling into the abyss. I don’t know what caused them but I began lecturing the driver on how it wasn’t possible to pile up so many heavy bags of coca leaves on the top of the van, and how we were dangerously overloaded with a too high center of gravity. They kept explaining how it was normal and nothing was going to happen so finally I just accepted fate and sat down. I prayed very hard to Our Lady of the Way and my guardian angel and left the rest up to the heavenly powers to safeguard us. After we got underway and I saw how slowly the combi was going, even being passed by other cars, trucks and conveyances, I began to relax and let go of my irrational fear.
I don’t know what had possessed me. I think the sheer drops and the bike ride from the previous day contributed to it. The three hour trip back to La Paz on the new road was thankfully uneventful and I listened to some music as Anita and the Argentineans talked the whole way back. They accused me of being a typical unsocial gringo but I defended myself by saying that I had had enough of them over the past two days and just wanted a bit of quiet and personal time. It was all good-natured and we parted making promises to meet up again in future travels. An exciting weekend it was!