Friday, May 28, 2010

Bolivia, recap.

So many things to catch up on: so, we've been in Bolivia (now in La Paz!) now for about- well only actually a week and a half, though (I know everyone always says this) it feels so much longer than that. Bolivia is like nowhere I've ever been.

So first, crossing the border into Bolivia consisted in talking to an Argentine guy at a window (giving him money), walking over a bridge, and talking to a couple Bolivian guys at another window (giving them money), and that was it. We've never had an easier (albeit costly) border crossing in our lives. Also, you know you're in Bolivia when there are photos of Evo Morales covered in flower necklaces everywhere (and his name etched onto walls at every street corner)--people love Evo (and I'm starting to, too).

The bus terminals here are kind of terrifying, mostly because little Bolivian women will get in your face and yell bus prices until you finally concede and tell them we're you're going. I thought I was spunky, but these ladies don't mess around. It seems the majority of the population is indigenous (or mezclado) and the women are adorned in little bowler hats, brightly colored skirts, and usually a baby in a colorful blanket. I love them. The buses themselves are definitely no Argentina cama (like a first-class seat on an airplane, but sometimes worth it for 33 hour busrides), and come in one of two ways: freezing cold and nauseating, or tropical-Dengue-fever-hot and nauseating. Usually Wes and I end up underneath the only working speaker on the bus, so they blast it to compensate for the broken ones. Yesterday we got to watch every King Arthur movie ever made since the 50's at the loudest volume possible. Luckily, the really old ones were too old to have been dubbed over, so we could actually understand what they were saying (also, Richard Gere? Lancelot? He is the best. Even dubbed over in Spanish!)

Also, there is altitude sickness in Bolivia (not yay!). I came back from New York with a bad cold and an ear infection (or just one of the two) which I thought I kicked back in Argentina. However, over the course of our first busride in Bolivia I started feeling sicker and sicker until I thought my head was about to explode when we finally got to Potosì. But turns out, Potosì just happens to be at 4067 meters above sea level and I just needed to acclimate. We keep hearing that the thing to do is chew coca leaves to help with acclimation, which I haven't yet tried (though the coca tea has been pretty much useless) -- everyone here chews coca and in no way associates it with our convoluted evil Western form of the plant, cocaine. It's actually a big issue in Bolivia politics (defending the tradition of coca, which goes back 4,000 years for indigenous groups, against the American ¨War on Drugs.¨ Evo Morales himself actually used to be a coca farmer.)

As I said briefly before, Sucre was lovely, clean, quiet, and wonderful. In comparison, Cochabamba was loud, busy, gritty, and definitely not a city you come to relax in. But that's okay! They have incredible outdoor markets chock full of fruit, veggies, shriveled llamas fetuses hanging from the ceiling (you bury them under your house for good luck)(scariest thing ever. not as scary as the Incan mummy in Salta though. Did I tell you guys about that thing? It was so, so, so scary. A seven-hundred-year-old 7-year-old boy frozen in his sacrificial clothing. It was honestly the scariest thing I have seen in my life)(though since them, we've seen a little mummy, or four, in every museum we've been to-apparently they have an excess of frozen Incan sacrifices and they don't know what else to do with them)(back to the markets!), roasted chickens, chicken legs, chicken feet, chicken innards, and lots of awesome llama and alpaca sweaters. Also thousands of old US sports jerseys, shoes, and ridiculous bathing suits from the '80s, so don't be surprised when I return with an awesome frilly multicolor traje de baño. Yes- the markets are great.

I've also made great efforts to be experimental with tradition Bolivian cuisine, to mixed results. While I loved my llama steak in Sucre, one lunch- riñòn, tripes fritas, y yucas fritas (fried beef kidney stew, fried intestines over corn and potatoes, and fried yuca)- was straight up nasty and left me feeling sick and suspicous of street meat for several days. Although fried yuca is great! Pictures are included as per Marcus's (Hi Marcus!) request. Do not try this at home! (Har har.)

Before we left Cochabamba, we went to a Muay Thai full-contact kickboxing tournament which was both hilarious and really, really testosterone-charged (I guess that's what you get a kickboxing tournament)- we sprang for the BOL$15 ringside seats, which afforded us spectacular views of hand and footprints on the various competitors backs and faces. Uh, yeah, kickboxing is insane.

But yeah, long story short, we're in Bolivia, Sucre was beautiful and Cocha was okay, and La Paz is already shaping up to be my favorite capital ever (the views! The city is surrounded by snow capped mountains). Pictures are up, and we have another very exciting surprise-- Eliza is coming to travel with us for a month, and she'll be here Wednesday! Yay Eliza! Possible guest posts may be forthcoming.

1 comment:

  1. Kate, you keep me laughing! I so enjoy these posts. Thank you for making this trip come alive for us. You and Wes are in my thoughts daily...with much love always, Laura/Mom