Bolivia. huh?

by globetrekkerloo

Sense. No. Makes. Bolivia. La Paz. UYUNI?!

Arrived at the border between Peru and Bolivia at 4am. By 9am, we were walking CLEAR ACROSS THE BORDER. Thought that we might get stopped, questioned, SOMETHING because lots of drugs get trafficked through everyday. Nothing phased these policemen.

Thinking we would get stamped on the other side of this sign, we kept walking right on through, past the “watchful” eyes of the police. Even when we handed our passports to the police, he shoved them back into my hand as if they had the plague. After that, no one paid us any attention. Hopped on a bus and headed out to the capital, La Paz!

Bolivia is one of the cheapest countries in South America… and one of the strangest. I honestly have NO idea how the country runs. Walking clear across the border, eating cow’s brain soup, their capital city literally overtaking a mountain, bus strikes that SHUT DOWN TRANSPORTATION NATIONWIDE, and prisons.

While in Arequipa, I picked up the book Marching Powder by Rusty Young. It’s a detailed account of one man’s experience in the San Pedro prision in La Paz. KIND OF NUTS. Thomas McFadden, a British man and cocaine smuggler, gets caught in the airport in La Paz, and serves his time in the most notorious of all prisons in the world. San Pedro prison is its own entity, where inmates have to BUY THEIR OWN CELL with title deeds and everything, earn their own income, where their wife and kids live with them in their cells, have their own crack laboratories, hold elections, even hold TOURS of the prison. Interesting stuff. Pretty much explains Bolivia.

And then the SALT DESERT: UYUNI

One of the most beautiful places on earth. Once, Uyuni was an inlet of the mighty Pacific. Somewhere along the way, it was sealed off from the ocean, leaving a vast area that is today the Salar (salt deserts) of Uyuni. It’s harsh territory out there, and you need to book tours in order to explore it. We went with Blue Line Tours, but honestly, you can book with anyone out there as they all offer the same thing. For 3 days we were in a 6 person jeep that took us around the salts, the mountains, geysers, llamas, hot springs in -10 degree weather and more. Had some great friends on the trip with us: two japanese doctors, Nick from Wales and Martin from Sweden. Lots of late night chats, ukelele sing-a-longs, roffee (rum & coffee) in the mornings, insane traveling stories, crazy photographs, and so much more. *

*A note on travels: GET OUT THERE. i’m serious. these people I’ve met along the way have quit their jobs, been on the road for a year or more, live off of biking, own coffee shops they manage from a roving mobile phone, haven’t washed themselves with soap in two years, photograph slum areas… THEY DO SO MUCH and get to see so much because they’re willing to take the risk and go out there. AND NONE OF THEM REGRET DOING IT. GET OUT THERE!

Incredible.

This is the outcome of the rainy season. I think we spent as much time waiting, walking and finding alter-transportation than in the buses we were supposed to travel on. Makes for interesting questions like: “Are we going to get there?” or “If they said 6 hours, does that really mean 16?” or “We might have to go on foot. Are your feet still wet from the last lake we had to cross?”

LOVE IT. =]



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