We have arrived in Bolivia after a very eventful journey which took us two and a half days to travel north from party town Cordoba, Argentina to sleepy Tupiza, Bolivia.
We left Cordoba on the night bus, and whilst I think most of the people in the hostel thought we would change our mind at the last minute, we dragged ourselves to the bus station. We arrived in Salta at 10.30am after a very comfortable journey (akin to a flight, with meals and fully reclining seats and a film!). We had a wonderful stroll around the town, which was a short trip from the station. We really liked Salta it seemed to be a crazy city, very different from Cordoba - perhaps less European, less cosmopolitan. If we had more time left on our journey then we would have stayed in this town for longer but with just over a month until we return to the UK, time was ticking and the call from Bolivia was getting stronger. So we took another 2 hour journey up the road to San Salvador de Jujuy in order to try and cut down on the next next days travel and found ourselves a very interesting hotel right next to the Bus station which we could hear all the hustle and bustle from the streets below.
With no fear that we would OVER sleep, we rested and prepared ourselves for the next days long travel. On the Sunday 20th May we took the 5 hour bus from Jujuy to the Argentinian boarder town of La Quaica. The journey was spectacular, the views were incredible. Dan and I were lucky enough to get seats on the second floor at the very front of the bus, and so we had spectacular 180 degree views of the mountains, desert, rivers and flocks of llamas!!!
The Boarder Crossing....
Our most eventful yet. In order to get to the boarder we walked a kilometre with our heavy backpacks on and, using the disused overgrown train tracks as a guide, we found ourselves at the immigation office. Afetr a few pleasantries with the border guard (who was more interested in showing us pictures of the previous nights shenannigans!) we were stamped out of Argentina and ambled across the bridge into Bolivia. And kept walking... We sudenly realised that we were walking into a town of another country! So we had to turn around and try and find the officers that were to stamp us into the country.... We found him watching TV in a dark room that was swarming with a hundred big bluebottle flies. When we asked for the paperwork to sign us into the country, he genuinely seemed shocked to see us and bustled himself with a couple of forms for us to fill in and gave us a huge smile. Slightly different to our crossing between Cabodia and Thailand where it was highly probable that the armed guards would need a few dollars before stamping us out!
And then we were in Bolivia. This is an amazing country! Where women walk around in national dress (bowler hats, patterned a-line skirts with lace apron and brightly coloured shawls) and you feel as though you have entered a time warp! We made our way across town and booked a ticket for the next bus to the nearest big town.
At somewhere very near 5pm our bus rocked on up (the punctuality of the buses so far would astonish their Asian counterparts!). It looked very peculiar as the whole chasis had been lifted about 2 foot clear of the ground - one can only imagine to get over the pot holes in the roads? Everyones luggage was put on the bus, inlcluding two wardrobes...???!! Dan and I instantly knew that we would like this country and that bus journeys would be like those crazy ones we took in Asia and that the journeys were going to be every much a part of the experience. The bus journey exceeded all our expectations. I think Dan and I laughed and giggled for the entire 3 hour journey. The bus rattled and shook so alarmingly over the rock and shale that comprised the "road" that it was like being on a ride at a theme park. Things were falling from above our heads and in the dark I could just make out Dan was being attacked by someones nightie that had falled out of an overhead bag. Shortly to follow came 4 hard bread rolls and what was suspected to be an orange, although in the dark it was hard to tell...
Arriving at what seemed to be VERY late, although of course it is a quiet town so the moment it gets dark it always feels much later than it actually is, we slumped into a hostel. Money has been a pressing concern because we mistakenly withdrew 10 quid in local currency from the cash machine at the border thinking that it equated to 100 quid - although just to show how much cheaper it is here we bought with our 150 Bolivianos: a really tasty lunch with big beer and big bottle of coke, bus tickets to Tupiza, accom for two in a hostel, light pasta dinner and a massivo breakfast from the market including a luxury item of a jar of honey. And there was some change left over! Anyway, we´ve been to the bank now and sorted ourselves out. Fascinating to queue behind some classically dressed old ladies cashing some cheques and watching them scan their thumbprints into a scanner thing and then inking their thumb to act as a signature - presume they were unable to write? Seemed like such a sophisticated piece of technology to have in such an out of the way small town in Bolivia...
We hope to go horse riding again around the area, perhaps an overnight trip, as there is some absolutely spectacular scenery around here. Either way we are already loving the feel of the place!