Trough Bolivia and beyond La Paz
During the first half of the trip trough Bolivia, I realised that leaving people behind was not hard at all. Everyone travelling in solo must be ready to be alone. But, this was just the beginning of this First Adventure.
Potosi to La Paz in a bus is a hell of a trip; 8 hours of dangerous mountains roads. But I don’t remember anything about that. I was happy just to be alive. When we arrived to the bus terminal in La Paz we needed to find a hostel to stay, and those were not times of iPhones and free wi-fi everywhere. Before moving from place to place we had to use the hostel’s computers and draft a plan. Thank God Bernardo the Brazilian have done it.
A strange behaviour in Bolivia is people sharing taxis like they were buses. It may occur that you are in it and somebody stops the taxi and if you both are going “almost” in the same direction, the driver will take the new passenger with you. The other method of sharing taxis is in accordance. When we were with Bernardo in the taxi parade waiting for a car to come, this girl called Nicole came to proposed us to share the taxi and split the fare. We said yes of course.
I have looked for the name of the hostel that we stayed but I found nothing. However I remember very well the stairs to the reception. Only two levels, but the longest and steepest stairs I’ve ever experienced. Also the altitude in La Paz makes everything gruelling. Once you were up there with your backpack resting on your side and recovered, it was funny to watch the exhausted faces of the new visitors. Anyway, we booked a couple of beds in a share dorm and took a long rest in the lobby before going out to explore the capital city.
They will go and more will come
Outside, for the first time in days we found a crowded city again. Very noisy by the way, specially because the drivers are honking all the time. We walked randomly and found a big mall with a food patio where you could have very cheap meals. As usual, Bernardo had some kind of touristic plan for visiting a supposedly well-known park. But it wasn’t a big deal, just a park. We rested there for a while and came back – Oh yeah, walking in La Paz means long stairs up and down very often, it really feels like hiking – before sunset we came back to the hostel and just chilled there.
Next day, the four boys that we have met in Potosi came to La Paz and stayed in the same hostel with us. Like the last time, the guy who has travelled South America the previous year told us about this place called Sorata. The name evoked something mysterious and magical, like a weird planet in the Star Wars universe. We agreed to go next morning and we spent the rest of the day walking around La Paz. It was there that I discovered this great Bolivian street dish called salchipapa – If you are not familiarised with the Spanish language salchi is for salchicha (sausage) and papa means potato –
When we came back to the hostel there were many people gathering in the lobby. The protagonists were two guys, one playing guitar and the other one the flute. They were pretty good, and everybody seemed to be in a good mood. We joined them and had a great time.
Sorata: The Green Land
In the morning we took a mini-bus and in less than four hours we were going down to Sorata in the middle of huge beautiful green mountains. The town is small but you need no more. And there are many little villages all trough the valley that you can visit if you follow the river from up the mountain roads.
We got a place to stay in a hostel well located right at the far end of town. Views from the immense terrace that it had were unbelievable. You were in the mountain, part of the landscape. If someone would be looking from the mountain in the front, they will be seeing a hostel hanging from a great cliff.
Our very hospitable host in the hostel, offer us grass right after we made a deal for the beds. It was surprisingly cheap, like really really cheap. And it was a lot. I remember that I had just for myself two sandwich Ziploc bags – Impossible to smoke all that disgusting amount of weed – in a gesture of thankfulness we smoked a few joints in a little balcony of the building, just looking at the mountains. Then we spent the rest of the day in town, had chicken for dinner and slept early to stay fresh for our little adventure of the day after, the caves.
Waking up in that place was a truly amazing. It was a natural mind refuge – “No worries pal, you’ll be great today” – After a very nourishing breakfast of mountain inspiration, we left, to challenge the mountain and prove that we were amazed but not scared. We did a technical parade in a shop for fruits and water and started walking up the hills.
Going was not very hard. It was indeed very nice. We met people that were going to the caves as well, we stopped to smoke, drink, eat and contemplate the beauty and we kept on walking. We crossed creeks and rivers, we went up and down and finally we arrived to the mouth of the cave. Inside was very humid, at first i felt a bit suffocated but after the narrow entry, the cave was wide and high. At the end of it, there was a subterranean lake where our hostel receptionist from La Paz – coincidentally – was swimming naked.
Coming back was very intense. The beautiful roads that we walked before downhill now were a terrible nightmare. It took us a long time to come back and with many necessary technical parades. But we did it back to the hostel before night.
Next day, the four guys that were with us disappeared. I had no idea what happened but there were not in Sorata anymore. Later on I found them again in another city, but I didn’t know why or where they left. With B the Brazilian we went for another day of hiking, to a closer but steeped mountain. After it I had enough hiking. I wanted to come back to the city.
We went back to La Paz next morning.
Continue here The First Adventure; North to Bolivia and Peru #4