Waking up in a new city after a midnight flight leaves a feeling of disorientation, yet a feeling of anticipation and excitement as to what is out the front door. What will this city by like? Two nights here exposed us to a world we have never experienced before.
There was not another foreigner in sight and home feels further and further away the more we travel through this country. However we are pretty much left alone by the locals and do not appear to be of much interest to them. They are too busy going about their daily lives to care too much about foreigners wandering through their city. Here woman are dressed in traditional Bolivian fashions with plaits in their hair and some wearing bowlers hats. Women with children carry their young ones on their backs with the child slung in an aguayo. These are pieces of fabric woven with brightly coloured yarn. I don't remember seeing one pram here, just a colourful splash of aguayo's dotted around the city. Women were also using these to carry their belongings, shopping and all sorts of things in too.
Walking through the city does have to be taken slowly though as we have now ascended to around 2500 meters above sea level. Even just walking up the two flights of stairs at our accommodation leaves us a little short of breath. We are still yet to arrive at places that will be over 4000 meters, but are lucky to be slowly increasing to the high altitude which will allow our bodies to adjust. It is also a relief to have some cooler weather, something that I thought I would never crave! The higher we get, the cooler it will become and we need to pack our bags with some warmer clothing, so off to the markets we go…..
Under the canopy of a large shed are hundreds of stalls selling everything and anything. We are looking for warm clothing and after making our way through a sea of watches, fruit and vegetables, children's games, woven blankets and all sorts of jewellery and bits and pieces, we find what we are looking for. The question weather to bargain on the the price or not feels a little uncomfortable when in such a poor country, however the price of some clothes here is the same if not more in Melbourne! so it feels only fair to bargain but we are not going to start a debate over what is worth one aussie dollar like we have seen some people do.
After finding some warmer clothing, hunger set in and we made our way to the food stalls. After walking a few steps down the lane shop keepers are already inviting us in, calling out all sorts of things in Spanish that I don't understand. We take our chances from one lady where it looks like we can get a set lunch. We end up with a bowl of soup that turned out to be very tasty and also a very generous serve. The chunk of meat was a little strange and a steak knife was nearly needed to eat our soup, but we got through it. For around a few bolivianos each (90c), we were happy and they lady who served us was rapt with the change we left her as a tip.
To quench my thirst it is not hard to miss many of the women and men selling fresh juices on the street. They make the juice in front of you with a big metal hand juicer. The juice is usually just orange, but can include a mixture of citruses.
Cochabamba surprised us in many ways and was an interesting stop over while we made our way to Oruro before finally reaching Uyuni. Never before did we think we would visit Cochabamba, but travelling is not always about the destination but the experiences and places we visit along the way, and having the flexibility to stop by for a few days and take it all in.