Bolivia and the start of Brazil
So we have been really rubbish at updating this here in South America. Bolivian internet was not so good but we have reached Brazil and so we thought we should update you all.
Bolivia was interesting and freezing. We got the night train to Copacabana and guess who was poorly again. So we arrived in Bolivia, found a nice hostal and checked in for the day. Copacabana seemed nice from what I saw wandering round to find food and water but the day was basically spent in our nice hostal room. We later found out that Camomile tea is the offender-or at least we think thats what it has been each time. The next day Chris was better and we were going to go to Isle de Sol (sun island) but the weather wasn´t great so we did some souvenir shopping and saw some more of Copacabana. The weather got better but we´d booked our ticket to La Paz and we were off.
We arrived at La Paz in the evening found a hostel and then went for dinner at a place recommended by one of the guests as we wanted safe food for Chris. For a two course meal it cost us 4 Bolivianos each which is 40p!! Unbeleivable! The next day we did a walking tour of La Paz which was lovely. An awesome breakfast, great sunshine, strange markets including a witches market where you could buy llama featus for good luck when you move house and a fantastic plaza. There was some procession going in the plaza which was very exciting and then we went into town and there was a really good guitar group playing so we watched them in the sun with ice cream. In the afternoon we went up to the mirador where youn could look out over the whole of La Paz which was quite impressive.
On the way back I got attacked for the first time! We were walking through the market and an old lady picked up the stool she was sat on and jabbed me in the ribs muttering something in spanish. Shocked I apoliogised assuming I must have bumped into her grabbed Chris and ran away. This was not to be my only attack. We have since found out that the Devils Mistress in Bolivian legend has blonde hair, blue eyes and looks like me and the older Bolivian ladys truely believe in these legends so don´t want me near them. Brilliant. But before knowing this it was really slightly unnerving.
That evening we got the bus to Uyuni. We woke up on the bus in the morning to find frost on the inside of the windows. It really was freezing. When we arrived we got booked onto a salt flat 3 day tour with Brisa tours (they were very good) and there were 2 other english guys, an italian and a japanese girl in our group. The english guys were great fun and the tour was awesome, the first day at the salt flats being the highlight. We also saw a railway cemetry, a cactus island, millions of lagoons, flamingos, an awesome sunrise, hot springs, gesas and amazing scenery. But it was FREEZING! What we found amazing was that the japenese girl was traveling south america speaking no english or spanish. Amazing! I don´t know how she was managing.
After 3 days we came back and checked into a hostel and got a well deserved hot shower! In the hostel the old lady wouldn´t speak to me and pushed me away physically anytime I went to ask her a question. Again we think she thought I was the devils mistress.
Bolivia is a weird place. The middle age women and men will only speak to me even though Chris´s spanish is better and ask me if my hair is natural yet the elderly ladys refuse to speak to me and edge on getting violent towards me! Odd people. But there is no disptuing there life is hard, particually in the countryside and unless they work in tourism there quality of life seems very low although the majority seem happy and they seem to spend a lot of time together as familys. The children are at work with their parents everywhere, for example in bus stations and on our salt flat tour the wife and son of our driver came.
We had an amazing pizza in Uyuni and then the next morning we went to Potosi. Here we watched the film about a 14 year old boy who had been working in the mines since he was 10 because his dad had died when he was two and so he was providing for his family. The life expectancy of someone working in the mines is 35 since the dust builds up in their lungs and explodes. The hours are sooo long and he was going to school as well as working in the hope that his education would mean he could get a better job. This is not unusual here and its very sad that the people see no alternative to working in the deadly mines. Its difficult as well since they are so proud of being miners especially when that has been what many generations of there familys have done. They see it as giving up there lives for there family. We would have visited the mine but its very small in there and Chris gets claustrophobic so it really would not have been possible but we spoke to many people who had and it really put in to perspective how easy our jobs are. The boy of 14 was earning $4 a day for 12 hours, sometimes 24hours a day! Just unimagineable how hard they must work to survive.
The next morning we watched the opening game of the world cup and then left for Sucre. Sucre is lovely and there is clearly lots of money here. The weather was great. We spent a few hours at the plaza and then had dinner and went to bed. The next day we did a morning trip to see some dinosaur footprints which was really cool. They had lifesize models ofthe dinosaurs and the sun was out so it was a nice morning. In the afternoon it was the England game so we found a gringo (tourist) pub and watched the game. Then it was to the bus station for an over night bus to santa cruz.
We arrived in Santa Cruz spent 5 hours in the plaza and cafes watching more world cup and then we had another overnight bus to the Brazilian border. Brazil is sooooo hot! We have sunshine again! We found a tour agency that would do trips to the pantanal so we got in their car to go to their office and half way they we were stopped by taxis! They had phoned the police because apparently the guy shouldn´t be taking us for free we should be paying for a taxi. But thats all we got from the 20min portugese argument. Emma Mccarroll where were you!! The police came and we got in the taxi and the tour company paid for the taxi-all very eventful. But we booked our tour and at 11 in the morning we were off on our 3 day pantanal trip.
The pantanal-incredible!!! Highlight of south america along with macchu pichu. I can not describe this place and our luck was soooo in!! Just on the journey to the lodge we saw sooo many birds, big camen and an armadillo!! In the afternoon we went on a horse ride and no one was leading us 🙂 so this was exciting for me having never riden a horse. We saw soooo many birds including toucans and a giant ant eater!! He was sooo cool and our guide hadn´t seen one since march. We also saw a racoon/monkey kind of thing which was awesome. That evening there were capaburi at our lodge and you could here the howler monkeys! The next day was the boat trip. Again this was amazing. We saw loads of kingfishers, macaws, toucans, osprey, camen, howler monkeys, capaburi and then the two highlights-giant otters and a JAGUAR!!! O my god it was incredible, a baby jaguar just watching us from the bush. And watching the giant otters was just awesome too. In the afternoon we watched the first half of the brazil game and the we had a walk. We saw tonnes again, owls, stalks, herons, voltures, (so lots of birds again), howler monkeys and captian monkeys (sooo cute and fluffy) and then the highlight- we saw an ossolot which is asmall version of a jaguar and he had a baby monkey in his mouth. The sad thing was the mummy monkey was crying out for her baby. In the evening it was a night safari and the only new animal we saw was a tarantula but it looked different at night and so it was cool.
Our last day was the car safari and pirannah fishinhg. We saw another armadillo sooo close up and hundreds of toucans and birds and camen etc again. Our luck was out with the fishing though-we only caught camen!
Our guide said never before in the space of three days has he seen giant otter, a giant ant eater, armadillo, a jaguar and an ossolot. We left feeling very lucky and having had an awesome time.
Last night was interesting. We were getting the bus to Bonito (300km away from where we were in the panatanal). We left at 1 and didn´t arrive til 2.30 this morning! After traffic delays (they just close the road for 1 hour to do some road works then let you through then close it again!) we thought we were on our way but then our mini van broke down and between the 7 of us we worked out he didn´t want to phone another van since then he would have to pay them and wouldn´t make any money so was trying to fix his own van-playing with wires the lot. And from the noise it was not going to be fixed. A mechanic stopped and he waved him away-again maybe he didn´t want to pay him but eventually one of the french guys finally managed to explain in spanish to this portugese driver we wanted another van to come (Emma we needed you again) and so he phoned up and 3 hours later a van arrived. So we got in and then realised this mini van was also towing the other mini van 130km along dirt track to Bonito. Just unbeleivable!! At least we´d managed to phone a hostel in the lonely planet in Bonito so we´d reserved rooms and they knew to stay open and keep the kitchen open for us-very good of them. Trust me even making a phone call here took us about 25mins to work out the number we needed to phone. The phone number had x´s in it which you need to replace with a code which will cover both where you are and where you are phoning?! What an adventure!
But we´re in Bonito now at a nice hostel with a pool and all so we are chilling out today.
Not long left now. Eek. Soooo excited about seeing everyone!! Hope everyone is good at home and hope the weather is nice for you guys as well!
We will put some photos up today if this pc will allow us to!
Lots of love to you all
Katie and Chris