Cochabamba was unlike any other Bolivian city we went to. It is a very well developed city but it almost completely lacks tourism. But there are more wedding dress stores than anything in this city. It is harder to buy a large bottle of water than it is to go and find a wedding dress. I was shocked to see how much fashion was a driving economy here. We arrived into Cochabamba via flight from Sucre around 11:30am. The flight cost 315 Bolivianos (~$45 USD) and it was only 30 minutes long. We arrived to the airport and the only airline available was EcoJet, which was really nice. It amazes me how easy flying in this country is especially in comparison to the states. Also again 30 minute flight and we were given a snack and juice, and I haven't had a flight to or from the states where you are given a free snack in a few years, you always have to pay now. I really wish flying was always like this haha.
So after our flight we got to the Cochabamba airport (which is also a really nice airport) and we had to take a taxi to our hostel since it's more on the outskirts of the city, the taxi cost 30 Bolivianos (which is pretty pricey considering the distance). We stayed at a place called Residencial Mexico for 30 Bolivianos a night (~$4 USD) so far the cheapest we have paid and for good reason. I am pretty sure we were the only tourists staying there because otherwise there were local people living there. It was all very basic but again our standards are low: two beds, a bathroom, and a locking door. But the highlight of staying there was this incredibly adorable and friendly dog that lived there. He was a bit scruffy but so sweet and wanted us to constantly play with him or give him some loving.
We stayed in Cochabamba for two days but did hardly anything. As I mentioned it really is not a tourist attraction filled city but it was still lovely. There were tons of bright green parrots flying around the city and lots of beautiful little squares and parks. We found a vegetarian Indian restaurant to eat at, not very good food but veggie and cheap. We basically spent our first day just wandering around and having just about every single Bolivian person stare at us.
For the past two months, we have been getting looked at by locals which sadly I have become accustomed to but Cochabamba was more so than anywhere else. I think the only other time I saw another white person was at the airport when we left, otherwise all Bolivians. I think they were shocked as to why we were in their city.
On the second day in Cochabamba we walked to Lago Aylala (?) but was kind of disappointed. We were hoping there would be grassy areas around the lake so we could sit and enjoy but it was all prickly shrub and s*** so we did not stay very long. Also another thing about the city is the climate. In most places we went in Bolivia it was cold or crisp but Cochabamba was nice and warm so naturally we were dying of heat haha.
On our last day we actually wished we stayed in Cochabamba because on September 7th the country was acknowledging Dia de peatones, day of the pedestrian basically. So no one in the city was driving, except for us in the taxi to the airport, so yay more stares haha. But everyone was out walking or on bikes so we could have rented a bike for the day but we had a flight that day. Our flight wasn't until 3:30 but we figured it would have been safer getting there early since there were no cars. So we spent a few hours just playing rumi. One thing in Cochabamba to do that we didn't do was climb a hill to the top where the giant white Christ statue is. But we saw it from below and have seen several Christ statues now so we decided not to, especially since sorry to some readers out there, but we are not religious. Alas we left Cochabamba with not much to say about it.
Our flight from Cochabamba to La Paz was also another 30 minute flight but we left 20 minutes late. We spent 257 Bolivianos (~$37USD) for our flight with BoA airline but we were spoiled from the first flight. The first flight was half empty, on time, our bags were about the first ones out at luggage claim, and it was easy to get a taxi into town. For our La Paz flight, it was fully booked, we left late, our bags were the last ones out of baggage claim and finding a way from El Alto to actual La Paz was initially a challenge. El Alto is on the outskirts of La Paz and no way to walk so you have to either take a taxi or collectivo. A taxi was 50 Bolivianos or collectivo for 3.80 Bolivianos. First no taxi's were there so we went to the collectivo line and was able to get on one with about 10 other people. The scary part was the luggage situation. Every other time we have taken a collectivo the driver straps bags down with rope or tarp but for this one the bags weren't secured at all. So the entire ride into La Paz I was constantly looking back behind us to make sure bags didn't fall out, I think it was the most nervous I've been since I've been here haha. But it ended up being fine and we were dropped off at Plaza San Francisco so we walked up to our hostel. We stayed at Muzungu Hostel, which is where we stayed before when we were in La Paz. It's on a busy street, Calle Illampu, but centrally located and the staff are fantastic. Since we have the Inticard (a discount card) we got a room for 50 Bolivianos a night (~$7 USD). When we arrived to La Paz we were shocked to see that Dia de peatones was applied here as well.
Normally the city is always congested with traffic but in the streets it was filled with kids and adults playing soccer and everyone walking in the middle of the streets. Michelle and I got so excited because normally we fear for our lives in this city when crossing streets. We walked to the main streets and saw food vendors and street performers set up and only an occasional car here and there. So we realized why there were no taxi's at the airport.
We spent two more nights in La Paz so we could do laundry, get bus tickets back into Peru and finish up with Bolivian shopping. We spent nearly an entire day buying clothes and souvenirs, so family and friends you better love us and appreciate what we got because we get to lug all of it back home in three months. We also got to eat at our favorite veggie friendly restaurants again: La Cueva Mexican food, Star of India and Tierra Sana vegetarian restaurant. So for those vegetarians out there, it can be really difficult to eat good healthy veggie food in South America but big cities have options.
We leave La Paz and all of Bolivia today to take a 14 hour bus to Arequipa, Peru. That cost us 170 Bolivianos (~$24 USD) but when we get back into Peru there will actually be a toilet on the bus YAY! Seriously so exciting. So we have to stop at Copacabana to change buses and then again in Puno but we'll get to Arequipa at about 5am ughh.
Also to my family, friends, and other readers this will probably be my last blog post for a little over two weeks. After we get to Arequipa we are going to a small town called Chala and on the outskirts of the town we are doing a two week volunteer project. We are not 100% positive on what we will be doing but it'll include organic farming, beach preservation and taking care of the animals, such as guinea pigs so they can later be eaten...Mmm cuy haha which we might have to try there. But we will be completely off the grid during this time but I am so excited to do this project. That is basically all I have to say for this blog but I will be posting a rather extensive one after volunteering.
So with that goodbye to Bolivia it's been a good but challenging month and I am ready to be done with Peru also so we can get to Ecuador.