Cochabamba - Hotel Boston

Cochabamba Travel Blog

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I needed to stop at Cochabamba on the way to La Paz - at 2,500m above sea level it’s a sensible place to re-acclimatise to the altitude.

Going from expensive Brazil to cheap and cheerful Uruguay and Bolivia, I had slipped out of the old habit of bartering. Everything in Bolivia is cheaper if you ask and although two minutes bartering may only save 20p, it’s the principle, dammit.

I put my ‘tightwad’ hat back on at the bus station (metaphorically - the only hat I actually possess is the wooly guesswhowenttobolivia hat), finally getting a normal bus (not semi or full-cama) that was just about to leave for 35 B’s.

In love with South America
All the flash harrys were paying five pounds more for luxury sleeper buses - fools.

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It soon became apparent that I was to be an ethnic minority of one on the bus, as I sat amongst a load of women with large posteriors, sacks of tat and amusing hats. A family sat near to me had decided to save even more money by not paying for seats for their children. They had also neglected to put their case in the luggage hold - no cash saving there, just arrived late.

Peru Family Robinson’s suitcase filled the entire aisle and every time someone moved up or down the bus they had to stretch themselves to their limits to get over the obstacle. In a marvellous example of stupidity, the family put down a blanket in the aisle right next to the case for the two kids to sleep on (maybe 3 or 4 years old, but smaller as per usual in Bolivia), making the obstruction worse.

Not a problem until the hordes of vendors walked onto the bus with chicken, bread and drinks. No vendor worth his salt is put off by two kids and a suitcase when sixteen people further back in the bus hadn't had 'Pollo! Pollo!' shouted in their ears yet. Result: A lot of kerfuffle, chicken being dropped all over the place and the little girl catching a shoe in the forehead. Nice one, mum.

The bus was hot and humid; although every window was open the cool breeze didn’t stop me sweating. As it got dark the sky started flashing, lighting up a huge area of the clouds (and the interior of the bus) but no thunder could be heard. Muy mysterioso…

By the time we reached the food stop we were getting closer to the storm - the sky was flashing even brighter and thunder could just be heard. I managed to get a beef sandwich with only one person pushing in front of me (learning), brushed my teeth (what is that white dude doing?) and got back on the bus to settle into an uncomfortable snooze.

I had a strange awakening about an hour later - for one of three reasons. Firstly my neck hurt from being bent at a strange angle. We had also got closer to the storm. The strangest thing however, was the four tiny hands stroking and cuddling my legs…

The little kids were sleeping in the aisle and partly under the chair in front of me. The little boy was closest, and at some stage in his sleep had started cuddling my ankle. His sister was still awake and was familiarising herself with the texture of the fluffy hair on my legs - by sporadically stroking them.

I had no prior knowledge of what one does in such a situation, so I settled with ignoring the cuddle, moving the leg that wasn’t covered in child and putting on my mp3 player.

The storm got worse - strobe lightning illuminated the trees at the side of the road but they were still hard to see due to the mist that pressed up against the windows and the lashing rain. Thunderclaps were like cannon shots amongst the rattling of the undercarriage on the dirt road and the snoring of the old cholita who was taking an aisle snooze next to me.

Thankfully as we approached the winding mountain road the bus driver decided that today wasn’t a good day to die so we pulled over for an hour to let the weather clear.

I’d managed to get a charger for my camera in Paraguay, but from there on there was a steady decline in functionality. My camera had got a scratched lens, , sand in the focus mechanism, dodgy connections to the battery and finally the battery cover had snapped, making it effectively useless - unless you jam your thumb in it at a strange angle and accept fifty percent of shots will be out of focus.

I spent two days in Cochabamba scouring the pawn shops (Cambio del oro), haggling and trying out cameras, finally getting a Sony Cybershot with 10.1 Megapixels, charger, memory card and adaptor lead for about fifty quid. I think it’s actually better than my old camera, too. Also met up with the local friend of Irish-boy for a few cheap vinos.

Next stop La Paz - back to the real altitude.

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In love with South America
In love with South America
Cochabamba
photo by: jendara