So we’ve gone down in the world – literally. Cochabamba is only at a height of 2558m, so only just at high altitude. It’s the lowest we’ve been since San Pedro and its so warm! The shorts are back out (1st time since Puerto Igazua and only the 2nd time this trip), it doesn’t even go cold at night.
Cochambamba sits in a ‘bowl’ surrounded by big mountains and the views on the way here were amazing, very similar to the mountains that you see in the typical tourist photo of Macchu Picchu. Sadly something that Marie ate on Monday didn’t agree with her so we were on a later bus than we’d planned and she wasn’t hanging out the window with the camera as she would normally have been doing, so no photos.
We found ourselves somewhere nice to stay with ensuite and lots of hot water and spent the afternoon relaxing in the hotel courtyard before venturing out to find food. Turns out that Marie wasn’t quite ready for food but in fairness she did make it half way back to the hotel before leaving her mark on the Banco de Credito (luckily it was dark) and on the plus side vomiting seemed to cure the cold that she was developing. It was going to happen sooner or later (Emma’s turn next).
We took the next day easy even though Marie was feeling much better and spent a good part of the day trying to assess our options for getting to the Toro Toro National Park. In the end we opted to pay for a 2 day private tour as there are no regular tours and the only other option was to take the public bus except there wasn’t one back for 4 days and time is getting precious. It was still a bit of a mission to sort out though and we had to go back to the Agency at least 4 times while they organised different bits, but its just the way that things are done here.
We did the tourist sights, such as going up to Jesus (Cerro de la Concordia) who stands on top of a big hill overlooking the city. He’s a few centimentres bigger than the one in Rio at 33 and a bit metres (Rio’s is 33 metres exactly). Luckily there’s a cheap modern cable car up the hill because we really didn’t fancy walking up it. The views from the top are good but a lot of the farmers on the outskirts of the city practice slash and burn techniques so it was a bit smoky/hazy, but it would be amazing on a clear day.
We also explored the markets (Cochabamba is Bolivia’s biggest market town), the guidebook reckons that the main market is one of the most crowded, chaotic, claustrophobic and exhilarating spots in the country but we found that it was just a market, no more crowded, chaotic etc than any other market. Oruro’s market better fit that description and seemed bigger too because it is spread out over so many streets. We saw a skinned cow’s tail though and more dried llama fetus’, but some of the food stalls nearly put us off eating for good, particularly considering the recent dodgy tum episode. We also saw lots of bright green parrots and a hummingbird in one of the Plazas and explored some of the nicer suburbs.
We think that during our stay here we have sufficiently funded the local Hare Krishna group enough to buy a few new tambourines as on the first day we randomly discovered the Govinda restaurant and had lunch there every day (so cheap, NZ$3 for a 4 course set lunch and sooo fresh) and the woman that ran it was lovely. We weren’t so sure about the main course on the Friday though, banana covered with tomato and cheese…
Tomorrow our 4 days in Cochabamba comes to an end. It’s been a nice city to hang out in for a while but we’re looking forward to Toro Toro.
- Saltenas are basically cornish pasties
- Big dogs keep trying to hump little dogs, instead of ones their own size
- There are quite a lot of beggars in Cochambamba (saw a few in Oruro) and the shoe shine boys are very persistent even though our hiking shoes aren’t the polishable kind.
- One street is full of people sitting at old school desks with typewriters, you take them whatever you need typing out and there do it right there on the street for you
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