The bus to Cochabamba was horrible. The bus stank, it was stuffy and hot, and for some strange reason no one else on the bus seemed to notice. There were 2 tiny pop out windows but they were only ever open for 30 seconds before someone would close them. We stopped once at a rest stop which smelled so horribly of urine (more so outside and in the eating area than in the actual toilet) that we couldn't decide if waiting on or off the bus was worse. Getting off in Cochabamba couldn't have come soon enough.
After checking in we set off to find dinner. The square we passed was abuzz with activity. Kids driving around in little toy cars, people offering photos with Santa Claus or Peppa Pig, and kitschy Christmas lights draped on and between every possible point of attachment.
The next day we went for a walk to the Palacios Portales, the home of Museo de Historia Natural and Cultural Centre. As we walked around the large walls of the perimeter trying to find the gates it absolutely poured rain on us, though fortunately only momentarily. We soon found the gate, closed and guarded. It turned our the Palace was closed for the holidays!
We grabbed a coffee with a German guy from our hostel that we ran into, and checked out the map for something else to do for the day. All we found nearby was a place called El Pueblito. All it turned out to be was a small community of Colonial houses, so absolutely nothing exciting and not worth the walk!
In the afternoon we went for a wander through the shops and markets. The hostel was putting on a new years party with a 70's them, so we kept an eye out for some cheap costume ideas.
On new years eve we started the day with a walk to visit Cristo de la Concordia, the Christ statue of Cochabamba and apparently the biggest in the world being slightly taller than Christ the Redeemer of Rio de Janeiro.
We elected to take the teleférico to the top of the hill, which left from a park at the base of the hill. Unfortunately we had arrived at the exact time they closed off the statue itself for a 2 hour lunch break so we couldn't climb inside, but we were able to check out some great views over the city.
Then it was time to prepare for the party! We returned to the markets and unfortunately the shop with the peace sign t-shirt we had spotted for Lindsay was closed, but we managed to get some floral ribbon for Lindsay's hair, and an afro wig and sparkly 2015 tie for Fergus.
Then we hit the op shops! Cochabamba has a huge number of op shops. It also has clothing shops that seem to sell clothes that probably come from op shops overseas which they pass off as new. The problem is the op shops are expensive! We just wanted a t-shirt for Lindsay, anything that looked remotely 70's would do. First choice was a shirt with a big peace sign but they wanted equivalent of $6 (not negotiable), so we had to go for second choice in another shop that we managed to talk them down to $3.
Back in the hostel we tried to have a siesta so we would be ready for the party which started at around 10pm, though we didn't have much luck. We got ourselves ready and went downstairs at 10 but there was no one there, and the staff were still setting everything up. We had included dirks so we got stuck into them, selecting the Singani (local grape distilled liquor) with lemonade.
People finally started arriving at the party around 11, mostly friends of the hostel owners. It was very strange and the complete opposite of an Australian NYE. When midnight hit everyone was still very sober! We all wised each other Feliz Año Nuevo, completing a kiss, hug, kiss or handshake, hug, handshake with each and every person. We then ate 12 grapes each, one for each month of the new year, making a wish with each grape.
Then the party started! We finally ate a around 1am, some Chinese food from a local shop, and continued to dance the night away. The music was provided by YouTube, so every now and then we would sneak in a western song that we knew how to dance to! Some heavily intoxicated sweaty guys tried to show Lindsay how to dance the local way, but finally at around 5.30am it all got too much for both of us. We had stayed up well past our bed time and drank a few more than our 2 drink limit so we made a sneaky exit upstairs and left them to it!
In the morning we discovered the party had continued until about 8am. There was supposed to be a fire and some traditional soup at around 4am, but this didn't happen until about 7 so we had missed it. The purpose of the fire is to write down the bad things from 2014 and put them in the fire to get rid of than. From what we gather no one was in a state for this by the time the fire had been lit in the daylight of 2015!
Our New Years Day was very quiet. Other than venturing out for food we did little but watch TV and pack ready for an early bus to Santa Cruz.