How´s it going? I hope you´ve all had a wonderful christmas and a great start to the new year! A new year, and seeing as we are still behind on our blogupdates, a new blogupdate.
We crossed back into Bolivia at the bordercrossing town of Villazon on the 29th of november. Getting back into Bolivia went quite smoothly, especially compared to getting into Argentina. We both liked Argentina, and we were very glad we visited. I´m happy we´ve made plans to return to see the rest of Argentina! (well, as much as is possible).
From Villazon, the border town, we were hoping to catch a bus directly to Potosi. Unfortunatly there were only nightbusses, leaving around 19:00. It wasn´t yet noon so we didn´t fancy a 7 hour wait. Instead we we asked around and looked at our map. Hmm, no busses directly to Potosi, so what about Tupiza? The only real town in between the to cities. And we wouldn´t need a bus, we would be able to catch a collectivo (the little white vans that leave when full). We we´re the first two in the collectivo. Munching on some excellently and freshly made popcorn we waited for half an hour. The van was then full and off we went towards Tupiza. (always, always with loud Bolivian music roaring through the van.) We arrived in Tupiza around dinner time and decided to find a hostel. There was a nice one near the busstation. Tupiza seemed like quite a nice place. Quickly setting off to find a place to eat, we found a funny American style diner. This one had its walls full of celebrities’ pictures and whatnots. There was a DVD playing on the TV. The Eagles in concert. (I don´t want to hear Hotel California again, I had just been complaining to Sander that the whole of South America likes to play this song, when the eagles came on…) We ordered a house speciality, snake bites! The name snake bite gives me fond memories of the beer I used to drink growing up in Roermond. This Snake bite wasn´t beer though. It was green hot jalapeno peppers stuffed with cheese. The waiter went, aaah they´re picante (hot)! us: Si we want! waiter: but MUY picante (very hot)! They were nice! In a burn a hole in your throat and tongue and make you cry kinda way.
The following morning we left Tupiza (no traces of lasting damage of the snake bites). The bus took us all te way to Potosi. Potosi is one of the highest cities in the World. At around 4090 meters. It´s really weird to think that we are 4km (!) higher than the Netherlands. Potosi is very famous for the mountain which towers over the city. It´s generally called Cerro Rico, which means rich mountain. It´s the biggest Silver find ever and during it´s peak I think over 45000 tons of silver were mined from the mountain. This ofcourse made Potosi, and the Spanish empire very rich. Unfortunately there was also a very big down side. The workers. It is estimated that over 30.000 African slaves were forced to work in the mines, together with over 50.000 of the local Indian population. Conditions were ofcourse very poor and work was hard. Most died. This is quite a bleak history. Nowadays tourcompanies offer tours to the mines for tourists. Some tours being led by ex-miners, who can speak English. Seeing as the conditions in the mines are still bad, and many young children work in the mines, we decided against such a tour. ( you visit a miners market first, to buy gifts for the miners you visit. (coca cola and dynamite(!)) And although a bit curious to what a mine looks like, I´m still glad we didn´t visit. I didn’t take any pictures of the mountain or Potosí, I did however take a picture of this cute mum with kids that lived in our hostel
The following day we left Potosi and headed towards Sucre, a ´short´ 4 hour busride.
Sucre, The official capital of Bolivia is a white city! We found a cheap hostel just outside the center of town. We had a little bit of a price discussion but we ended up getting our way. What I really really wanted to do was ride the Dino truck! okay this might seem a bit random to you, but just outside Sucre, there´s a wall on which dinosaur footprints were discovered. Everyday a dinotruck leaves from the square to take you to Parque Cretacico (aka dino park). Imagining myself riding a T-rex shaped bus that could maybe roar, I was immediatly excited (Dino truck became my mantra). Unfortunately, I had one of the biggest let downs so far. The day we decided to visit dino park, I was nearly bouncing with anticipation! Dino truck! We walked to the main plaza, from wich the truck leaves. Dino truck! Turned out it was an ordinary bus, no T-rex shape, no special sound effect, nothing. I´m still disappointed. On top of that it was very very overpriced, almost ten times as much as the ordinary bus that took us back to the city from the park. Thankfully, the park didn´t disappoint. The wall with dinosaur prints was very impressive. It was discovered by workmen who were taking layers of off the mountain. Probably mining something or another. Suddenly a layer showed prints, really big prints.
The wall used to be flat, but over millions of years, the tectonic plates pushed the land up, turning a flat surface into part of a mountain. If you look at the wall, you will see dinosaur prints everywhere over it. It´s estimated they are 68 million years old! Can you imagine that? I can´t. It was weird looking at something so old and trying to comprehend that you´re seeing something 68 million years old! It still baffles me!
68 million yeard ago, there was no Andes, everything was flatter. It is thought that there were various lakes in and around Sucre. The dinosaurs trudged through the mud to get some water to drink, and before the prints would dry up, sediment would settle on them, preserving them for us see.
There were two tours in the park. The first one is after a short film in spanish and sometimes English (walking with dinosaurs). The park has quite a few life size models of some of the dinosaurs that walked around there.
The guide takes you past them, explaining what they ate and such. We were glad to recognize the mesosaurus. a dinosaur that used to reside in water and of which a good skeleton was found near Maastricht, in the Netherlands.
They also had a life size model of the titanosaurus. Until we have wifi and can get pictures up, think of a long necked, long tailed dinosaur that eats leaves (I think they also starred in Jurassic park, the film). Anyway, we have a picture with me standing next to it and it is absolutely enormous! I’m right next to it’s left front leg!
The second tour takes you quite close to the prints. From the park you can only view them from a platform. But they´ve made a path down to the prints. Wearing safety helmets we were able to get quite close and look at the different prints.
Both Carnivores and Herbivores used to roam around the area. They had been sorted by their prints: three-toed carnivores,
three-toed omnivores (fatter feet than the carnivores) and four-toed herbivores. Over 5000 tracks are visible, but, exposed to the weather and such, they are slowly withering away. A part of the wall actually collapsed a few years ago, and although some dino prints were lost, the layer underneath showed new and different dinosaur prints. We had quite a lot of fun learning about the different dinosaurs and gazing at the footprints. We also have a picture of Sander standing in front of one of the Titanosaurus footprints. Again, the beast was so big!
We were mightily impressed when we left the park.
In La Paz and Sucre, you can find young kids dressed as zebras walking the street. These kids jump in front of cars and people and are trying to teach all the Bolivians how zebra crossings work! They are generally quite loved and do their work with lots of enthusiasm!
Remember I told you about having a certain fruit lady for your shopping? Same principle works with fruit salad ladies! The salads were absolutely exquisite and cost around a euro!
Another highlight in Sucre was Sanders birthday, the fourth of December. Because it´s hard to give a birthday present here (everything has to be able to fit into your backpack and be carried around for a few months) I decided to pick a really good restaurant and give Sander a great meal as a birthday gift. I found a french one (hurrah for big cities). When we arrived for our dining delight (in the afternoon) we found out that dishes from the menu don´t get served before 8 o´clock at night. a quick talk with the manager though and voila we were able to have anything of the menu we wanted! On the picture below (when it´s uploaded) you can see Sander, on his birthday enjoying caviar for the first time 🙂 The food was absolutely fantastic! (he also has a new haircut)
That night we boarded a night bus to Cochabamba. Another maniac driver, no sleep and 6 hours later (instead of the 8 we were promised) we found ourselves in Cochabamba bus terminal at 4.30 in the morning. Our destination was Villa Tunari and we were able to get a bus leaving at 5.30. 5 hours later we arrived in Villa Tunari.
What´s in Villa Tunari? Well that is for our next post!
Hope everyone is well! We are in Chili at the moment, slowly making our way down to Patagonia!