Friday, February 20, 2009

Endeaveors in Bolivia

After two attempts, I was finally able to cross the border into Bolivia. After flying to Arica, I bought a ticket for an overnight bus to Cochabamba. This was the beginning of disaster! I was waiting for the bus on the side of the road with about 40 other people and when we finally got on at about 2am it was gross and smelled awful. When we arrived at the border it was closed (of course) and I was feeling really sick from the altitude! So we waited there for about 3 hours until the border opened ... in the cold. This is when I started really running into problems. When I went to fill out my visa application I realized the price had gone up and I didnt have enough money. I thought I would just go to and ATM, but no - the closest ATM was 2 hours away! Basically there was no way they were giving me a visa and the bus was like we´re leaving so get your backpack. Luckilly another bus came through that was going back to Arica and they let me on for free.

Back in Arica things got much better. I got a hostel, went to the beach and watched the sunset. Then I went out to eat. got ice cream, and bought myself a scarf for my bday :) The day was not a total disaser! I got a new ticket for a bus to La Paz the next morning and this time I took out more than enought cash for the visa. This bus was much better and even included lunch. Choosing a bus company is kindof a crapshoot here beacause you never know what to expect, but I lucked out this time.

When we arrived at the border half of the officials were like hey you were here yesterday! haha not funny ... They only accept US dollars for the visa so I went to change my money from Chiliean pesos to USD when a new problem surfaced. The exchage rate the wonem at the border were giving was horrible and they were only going to give me $129 when I had the equivilant of $160! I was lucky again because the nice couple I had met earlier on the bus paid the difference for me - I did not want to go back to Arica again!

I ended up getting off the bus in Oruro because it is closer to Cochabamba, which was my next destination. Carnival is going on this weekend in Bolivia so everything was a little crazy there. Oruro was pretty cold and it had just started raining so I decided not to stick around to get hit by water ballons (they sell them on the street for kids). I found a bus heading for Cochabamba an hour later and now I´m here!

In an hour Im taking an overnight bus to Santa Cruz, which is my last stop before the animal refuge. A lot of people here are familliar with Inti Wara Yassi and I´ve heard only good things so far. There is no electricity at the park but there is a town about 45 min away that supposedly has a realiable internet connection. As of now, Im planning on updating the blog on the weekends when I go into town. Thanks for all of the birthday wishes! :)

Where are you in the world?