Salar de Uyuni was the perfect start of our visit to Bolivia. While nature left us with our jaws hanging, covered in salt and in possession of thousands of photos, the people were not that welcoming. There must always be a catch, otherwise, everything is perfect and it feels wrong. We don’t come with the high expectation for them to be delighted by our company, so after a short stop at the boring and dusty town of Uyuni, we headed for the actual capital La Paz. We were going to go by train to Oruro, but the “diligent” Bolivian tourist agents couldn’t book us a ticket even after 20 reminders. So we had to catch a smelly night bus and pass through every village on the way (the first 8 hours on a dirt road) and arrive at the smelly bus station in La Paz before dawn.
|The prettiest monument in Uyuni|
|The times of informational eclipse – the weather is against us, too|
It was clear that we had to arrange how we’re going to leave La Paz.
During this very productive day, after traveling in the mobile toilet, we managed to arrange some fun for the evening, food for the next days and a trip to the Road of Death (Ruta de la Muerte – one of the world-famous adrenaline pumping adventures). We booked our stay at the jungle, the night stays on the way back and most importantly, a bus directly to Nazca in Peru so we can leave Bolivia without changing buses on the border.
We even had the time to visit the city center and even enjoy some mighty views of the scattered La Paz. We passed through the Sunday market, which is everywhere. Exotic fruits, cooked meals to neckties and jewelry are all sold there. Our greatest fear came true. We had heard about the way older ladies just squat with their wide skirts on the sidewalk and take care of their natural needs, but we didn’t believe it. Until we saw it!
There are some beautiful things in La Paz which make you think that you’re not wasting your time there – the views of this enormous town, spread over several hills and the cable cars. Also the Road of Death and the Cholitas Wrestling.
We almost passed the Ruta de la Muerte by car or bike, almost. It turned out that day, also maybe others, there was… a blockage! Bolivia, it isn’t clear who blocks the roads and why, maybe it was the people from the villages, who are not paid enough to clean or maybe it is the government, or maybe aliens. Welcome to Bolivia! Where when stuff happens nobody goes looking for reasons. Now we have to come back later so we can get scared on this dangerous road. Thank god, we bought flight tickets to Rurrenabaque in the jungle, so we won’t be forced to stand idly in front of the blockage.
|Ruta de la Muerte is somewhere behind this hill|
Have you seen World Wrestling Entertainment on TV? Were you fans, did you stay up with the Rock, Undertaker, and Chyna? Were you the victim of 5-star frog splash in your classroom or have you been locked in the walls of Jericho? If you can answer YES, then Cholitas Wrestling is just for you.
This is the same style of wrestling, but unlike the multi-million American production, it is truly dangerous. This type of wrestling has always left us in awe of the acrobatic skills of the actors. In La Paz we saw something different from the muscled bodies and fake blood, here the normal bodies of the ladies get stained by real blood – their own! They find a favorable moment in the script and cut themselves, a true show. As Nace put it, it is a measured risk. See the video of several rounds, because words cannot describe the throwing and hurling mixed with a script fit for a TV show!
We can sum up the people and their ways from the point of view of the last day in Bolivia – the Bolivians divide themselves into two categories – those from the highlands and those from the valleys.
Those from the highlands are said to be colder, reticent, in two words – world-class introverts. Maybe, in the beginning, we stumbled on this type, but is that an excuse? When you wish to be part of the tourist industry and get paid by the tourists the smile shouldn’t come off your face and you have to treat your clients royally! We hope that the locals well learn this lesson soon enough and see the difference the next time we come back! We enjoyed thoroughly the great treatment of the hospitable people in the Bolivian jungle and they made our stay a relaxing experience (even though the mosquitoes tried to do the opposite).
This article was brought to you in English by Marta Petrova.
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