I had mixed feelings about leaving Sucre. It had been a lot of fun and I had met some good people but I felt I wanted to the see the rest of Bolivia. I also had mixed feelings about the bus journey itself. It was going to be at least 14 hours - it turned out to be 18 - and that morning we read an article in the paper about how many people had been killed on the roads over the holiday period in accidents. 45 so far and it was only the 27 December.
As it turned out although it was long it wasn't so bad - it even included a proposal of marriage from the lovely Eduardo! He was very sweet and he bought me a little gift but he wore white socks so he stood no chance.
Santa Cruz was an odd place. Hot, sticky and run down in places. I headed out early the next day for Chiquitos the Jesuit Mission towns. I managed to get the last seat on the bus. The woman I was sitting next to turned out to be a beauty therapist so I ended up having a free manicure including having my nails painted. This was no mean feat given the state of the road and our Bolivian bus driver who in a former life was clearly Emerson Fittipaldi.
I hopped off the bus at San Javier to look at the first mission town. In the 18th century some Jesuit Priests established a series of mission towns where they managed to con the local poplace and get them to convert to catholicism. They then needed somewhere to pray and so they built these amazing wooden churches. Despite the religious overtones the churches were really impressive structures. Given the time I had I could only make it as far as the next town - Concepcion, but it was worth it to see the church and the village. Found a great place to stay and spent the afternoon in a hammock reading and chatting to the owners granddaughter the lovely Bella. My Spanish can just about cope with a 4 year old!
After heading back to Santa Cruz I attempted to head west towards La Paz but ended up having to loop back. Spent New Year in Samaipata in the highlands which was lovely. Found a great hostal so it was perfect. Two of my favourite things in the world - red wine and fireworks so I was in seventh heaven. You could buy fireworks incredibly cheaply and then just set them off where ever you wanted to so it was fun messing about with the other pyrotechnics - mind you they were only about 10 years old!
Leaving Samaipata involved going back to Santa Cruz where I hoped to catch a couple of buses back to La Paz. I hadn't counted on the impact of New Years Eve. Whilst there were hundreds of buses there were no drivers. The bus station was heaving and everytime there was even the remotest chance of a bus hoards of people descended on the exit to try and get on the bus. Scuffles started to break out so I took the line of least resistance and exited stage left to get a flight. Love that visa card!
Met up with Tom for my last night in La Paz for a few beers and dinner so it was a nice end to the trip. As my old granddad would have said, "a good time was had by all". It was very hard to say goodbye to Bolivia. I loved it!