We arrived in the highest capital city in the world around 5pm and were promptly dumped in the middle of nowhere, outside a beer factory. Could have been worse! We then headed to the Wild Rover hostel in the city centre which is a must for all backpackers and got unpacked after the epic trip. 2 hours later we had jobs at the hostel bar which boasted that it is the highest Irish bar in the world. Poor Johnny Foxs’ won’t be too happy with that.
Early the following morning we headed to Bolivia’s famous Death Road, located about 2 hours outside of La Paz. It is essentially a tiny road which wraps itself around a huge cliff. So if you fall, you are brown bread. After a tentative start the three of us were like Stephen Roche bombing it down the cliff. Kevin had a minor fall which hurt the man ego more than anything else, but apart from that we all returned in one piece and went straight for a celebratory pint. Once we returned to the Wild Rover that night we made a last minute decision to go into the jungle as many friends had recommended it in Bolivia, for its accessible pricing and vast array of species you can see. With that in mind, we made sure we went out with a bang in what we thought was going to be our last night in Wild Rover. Poor call from the Boys in Green.
We arose early the following day at 4am and went straight to the airport to catch our flight. Having spent the previous day downloading jungle themed songs onto the iPod, we were ready. That is of course until we arrived at the plane that more resembled a bullet than a functioning plane. It made Ryanair look class! A bit nervous and freezing cold, we eventually landed safely in Rurrenabaque airport, which looked like some lad’s back garden.
No sooner had we returned to the Wild Rover in buoyant mood were we shot down to earth with the bitter realisation just how poor of a football team Ireland have. The original plan to leave that evening for the famous salt flats was suspended and some drowning of sorrows was put on in place. The next day we felt it was finally time to leave the Wild Rover and took in some last minute shopping (cheap as chips) before we bid an emotional farewell to the bar that had raised us from a young age. As a parting gift, the bar manager put DWIC on the big screen and we departed to a round of applause from all. Emotional times indeed. We left with the intention of getting the night bus to Uyuni to visit the salt plains and then going straight to Paraguay. If only Bolivia’s bus system had the same plans as us!
In what would turn out to be the first of 4 consecutive night buses, we were dealt a poor hand. What felt like an eternity to Uyuni, can only be described as the feeling of driving across Bray beach for 8 hours straight. Not one wink was had. We arrived at 7am in the ghost town of Uyuni and were promptly harassed by everyone to sign up for their Salt Flats tour until we finally found a decent deal and set off at 10am with another 2 lads.
The bus to Sucre was not the may west but did the job. The only problem was that it dropped us in the city at 4am and wouldn’t even enter the bus terminal as it was too early to open. After waiting a little while we got in and went to the bathroom to wash up a bit. At one stage we had a silent and mutual understanding where we all looked in the mirror and realised we were worse off than homeless people. There was one homeless lad having a shave in the sink and a mini wash. For the first time in our lives we were jealous. What have we become! 2 hours later, we were able to leave our bags in for storage and headed to the city centre to spend the day. Sucre is a beautiful colonial city, but does not have a lot going on at 7am, so we kept in line with our hobo status and went for a sleep in the main plaza. Living the dream!
We arrived in Santa Cruz at 6am and as we were taking our bags off the bus came across one of the most unusual sights we have seen on our travels. There beside Chris’ bag in the undercarriage were two human feet. For a second we thought that maybe it was dead and the family wanted to skimp on funeral expense. Then it started moving. So we promptly grabbed our bags and legged it. After a few hours we eventually booked our tickets for Paraguay which would be leaving that night. So we dumped the bags, not before being asked for photos with locals, and hit Santa Cruz for the day. By now the days were blurring into one, so the town was identical to Sucre for us. The day was spent trying to spend as little cash as possible, so we lounged around the plaza and internet café. Our plan to go see the new One Direction movie was dealt a hammer blow when we were informed it was sold out. At 6pm, we headed back to the bus station and hopped on the bus for what we hoped would be the last leg of an excruciating exit strategy from Bolivia. Oh Lord please!
As always, thanks to all the amazing people we met at Wild Rover and beyond. Bolivia is without doubt a beautiful country which is extremely accessible to travellers with any budget. Just one tip…demand to see the bus before you get on it!
See you in Paraguay (for a few days!)