about me, arnaud and François crossing the ocean and the equator looking for...

05 August 2006

Potosi - sucre - REpotosi - la paz

hello y'all. I left you 5 days ago,in uyuni and a long way has been traveled since then. indeed, we did (almost - for we didn't go to santa cruz) every major city in bolivia. let me recall those last five days.

After exiting the internet cafe, 3 tired belgians walked over the street and, freezing cold - once again - entered the first cafe they found open ( because not much is on sundays in bolivia) and played monopoly ( arnaud won if anyone beside him is interested in this fact) until their heads hurt ( and their lungs too for smoking up there is painful...). after this very interesting and incredibly valuable for the knowledge of bilivian culture, we ran into our mighty cold bed and quickly fell asleep....or the other two did for, rehearsing for the national day of independance, I had below my window a group of (drunken??) young men playing all kinds of instrument but without really listening to each other. and they played late around the bonefire. goodnight

the next day, a little tired but happy to leave uyuni we went to take the bus advised to us by our guide and it was indeed not the worst bus company one could have taken :) We arrived in potosi, charming - and steep - little town at around 1200 and went to find a little hostel to put down our mochillas (backpack). it was a nice one with a room for the three of us, and commom bathroom. the usual.
by then we were hungry and the book told us there was a nice " intellectual" cafe ran by uni students that served some good burgers, so we figured it'd be a good option. it turend out the burgers were good, but the guy was definitely NOT an intellectual and if he is a uni student, he's got to be a freshman and I don't think he'll make it to sophomore :) we asked three burgers, he brought 2. we asked for a third one and three more, he brought three...then we hasseled him a bit and he brought the fourth. when it was time to pay, he had to hide behind his counter to substract 2.50 from 20....and as you can see I was a bit pissed off by then, for I was really hungry and the others were always done when I hadn't even recieved my burger yet :) but well, it's all over and makes nice memories :)
out the intellectual cafe. into the street. as usual, we first went for all the churches and took a lot of pictures. we watched the sun set over potosi and then went looking for a bar - we found one - and played couillon while drinking cerveza (tea for me, I was feeling a tiny beetsy sick by then). two ours later we went to a restaurant where they had no french fries ( and that was exactly waht we were looking for back then) but it was pretty much the only one opened that didn't serve ONLY chicken and we didn't feel like wandering the streets any longer because they had schoolbands playing all over and it was hard to get around.
bed...nice and warm....wake up at four 'cause your stomach and your intestins aren't feeling well. you hit the jackpot : LA TURISTA!! yup, I got sick ( the others a bit too, but I also had a cold and felt rather "not well" :)
the next morning, althought as usual Francois tried to get me out of bed to go climbing some hill to have an overview of the city (I'm sick of those overviews, but he seems to love going up half an hour to see loads of roofs :) I resisted and argued my way into staying in bed until they noon. so they went to get the bus tickets for the afternoon and francois went up the hill all by himslef for arnaud let him down half way up because you had to go through many parts of town he didn't feel too comfortable in. so he joined me in the room.....and we did some reading (dan brown, stiglitz, bret easton ellis) . I felt a lot better after that half day of rest, and francois was happy cause he'd gotten some good pictures, all good.
the afternoon was dedicated to some cultural visits as, with all the tourists in potosi, we went to "la casa de la moneda", biggest museum in bolivia, and i was quite nice. we were explained how the spanish made their coins back in the day - and it was a hell of a physical job - and then saw some mummy of the incas, some jewelry made of the silver extracted in the mines, and the thing that captivated me the most was a time line figuring the world since adam and eve (980 ACN), going with Mathusalem, then the names of the 4 only women we know from before the "deluge" (that big rainy day with noa and stuff) , how the first stone tools were made in Denmark and then I don't know 'cause the guide was calling us out of the room
and that thing was at least 10m long.
after the visit - we cut it a little short - we went to get our bags and walked over to the bus station where we met a french tourist we 'd met before (it´s funny here, you always meet the same people, you'll see if I don't forget to recall it :) and then borded the bus to sucre. Three hours later we were in sucre. cute little city too.
as usual, we needed to be fed by that time, and went looking for a restaurant for we don't really trust our giude anymore, it's full of wrong info's (one advice, never buy the "petit futé"). we found a meat place where the sole dish was meat, the only choice was wether you wanted it with a bit or a lot of fat :) it sounded good. the meat was enourmous and enourmously delicious. on the way out, we found ourselves a little bar where a couple of locals laughed at us, then with us and a couple of bottles of of cerveza disapeared down our throughts. good night sleep...just awoken once by my stomach shouting TURISTA :)
the second day in sucre we did all a good tourist has to do. after all that, francois wanted to go on the hill to overview the city, arnaud and I, bored to death with "miradors" decided to buy a - local - coke and chill while waiting for him. he then eventually came down and we went to see the first cathedral ever build in bolivia which just happened to be next to a really "chic" restaurant that just happened to be no more expensive than any other and that had a terasse overlooking the city ( that kind of overlook I'm more than ok with :). so, ditry and stinky we ate in that refined place and had a good laugh at what a comical situation that was :) - imagine, by now we REALLY don't eat like our parents taught us to, and we just really didn't fit :)
On the way back down to the city, we took a couple of pictures and decided to go play "couillon" in the park - it's really nice now for they have plenty of stuff for the 6 of august coming up. we were a bit bothered by all the kids around who wantted to shine our shoes and some coins from belgium for their collection (but that they were going to exchange 20m further) and couldn't understand that is you put shoe shine on my fabric eagle, they are ruined :). they also took a great liking in pulling our leg's hair ( for we had shorts - unlike everybody else - and natives don't have hairylegs) and deciding whom amongst the three of us had the most (I won without contest when they looked at my face and my arms. after having each won one or two games, it was time to buy some local alcohol and return to the hotel and prepare for our first night life experience in bolivia. we drank the alcohol - grape something that tasted like cheap vodka -while playing cards and after dinner, we returned to the bar we had gone to the previous day util the "mama" kicked us out. we hadn't enough so we hooked up with the first local we met and asked if he knew of any place still opened. he did. we went.
we were greatful for the indication and offered him a "BOCK" and asked him who he was and what he was doing. apparently he was a ingeneer in agronomy and had a great cereal to sell with which you can make more money than cultivating cocaand so it was really interesting listening to him, althought none of us can recall teh name or the look of the plant. by this time, arnaud was out, sleeping on the table. francois and I hooked up with the last two poeple in the bar : French speaking suiss. 42 year old guy. 30 years old chica. 2 kids , 10 and 8 - fortunately not there. after a bit of talking the guy - a bit against his wife's wishes if I can recall - invited us back to their place and we went there, drank some good wine and talked about most random things. they turned out quite nice, never said why they'd come to bolivia althought we asked each of us a good couple of times but let slip that he was an ex-heroin addict - club owner in lausanne ( which would have given him a good reason for taking off)
the next day is a blurr. we woke up, showered, slept in the park, ate, slept on the roof of the hotel, took the bus. wasted day. but waht a nigth :)
the bus ride to lapaz was cahotic. we had taken bed-bus so we thought we could sleep easier (12h30 is a hell of a bus ride) but it turned out you sleep jsut as bad in those as in the sitting ones. adding to that, we were still wearing shorts and the heater was off so we shook more than we slept.
two nights in a row was too much and when we got to la paz, the first 2h30 were dedicated to sleeping.
once we woke, we went to the sole burger king in the whole country 'cause we wanted to eat something we knew. it wasn't good - it's burger king!! - but it felt good ( and they had paper in the toilets :) probably the only once in bolivia.
the afternoon was walking around, going up the "mirador" to see the city from above and buying the tickets for Peru for tomorrow afternoon, gift shopping and internet writing.
La paz is a bit of a weird city and we ain't staying too long 'cause we like it a lot less that we liked potosi and sucre. it´s quite polluted, doesn't have as much to show for itself than the other two and is a hell of a lot more crowded.
i'm tired now, i've been writing for over an hour, but we'll meet again in puno or in cuzco. hope you enjoy. I do ! :)

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