sucre + some tramping + la paz
04.04.2016 - 13.04.2016
So we ended up spending about a week in Sucre, and it feels like we didn't do very much except eat (and discover we could afford steak!), sleep and read our books..
However we did end up going on a 2 day 2 night tramp to some local villages with a volunteer organisation.. We left Sucre at some ungodly hour (6:30am!) and drove to Chatiquilla (Sucre's highest chapel) to start our trek. Luckily the uphill lastest about 10 seconds, when we found ourselves at 3700m, and descended down an old Incan trail to the bottom of the valley below.
Our group was made up of 8 others - Swiss Germans, real Germans, one englishman, a french canadian, and our 2 guides - Filip from the Netherlands, and Edwin from Sucre. We were moving pretty slowly, and had some pretty random conversations with people - such as how milk causes cancer (felt slightly reminiscent of the "gingseng prevents lung cancer even if you smoke" man on our bus to Sucre).
Lunch was like amazing though - its a vegetarian organisation (they have a restaurant) and so we had a huge variety of salad and roast vegetables to put in our sandwiches - needless to say, post lunch felt like we would explode.. thank god for seista!
After lunch we headed up into this large crater - looks like it was made from a sinkhole or something, but apparently no one knows how it was made. In said crater was Maragua, the town where we would be spending the night. Unfortunately on arriving, there was no running water (the pump was broken). Luckily or not, I found this out as I was making use of the facilities, and so got the one and only toilet flush available for the night. Made for some sneaky missions to "borrow" some from the neighbours outdoor tap, but still well short of what was actually needed.
Arriving in Maragua
Richard in the wheat
Next morning we were off to a slow start, and ended up climbing back out of the crater in full mid-late morning heat. Dulp!
Soon enough we were wandering along some farm tracks to the local dinosaur footprints - apparently they were made by Little Foot, and some 4-5m carnivore. They were kinda cool, but more hilarious were Richard's interpretation of the dinosaur noises.
During lunch on this day, there was some pretty threatening sounding thunder rolling away in the distance, and still we had seista time, much to our horror. These horrible black clouds were looming ever closer, and we were snoozing in the ever cooling afternoon.
Unfortunately we did get caught out in the storm, but luckily it did not hose down quite as badly as it appeared it might. Made it to shelter about 30min after the rain started...
Headed back to Sucre the next morning, and continued our trend of not doing very much for a few more days - although we did succeed in doing our GP applications (again!) Unfortunately we both were getting a bit sick at the start of the tramp, and so felt that pulling off a 12hour bus ride might not be the best idea, and that we should wait a few more days.
After being sick for a week each, we decided to take A/Bs. Love A/Bs! Began feeling better after a day, and well enough to get the bus to La Paz - overnight - freezing cold, and luckily enough, no toilet on board!
Made it to La Paz, and got to our accommodation at like 7:30am, where they were nice enough to feed us breakfast. Feeling pretty tired at this point, but decided to go for a wander around town and organise some things for the next day.
Spent A LOT of time weighing up whether we should go on a 12 day tramp in the nearby Royal Mountain range, as we found a place who we could get what we needed from them at an ok price. At this point we have decided there has been almost daily rain and thunder and lightning, so maybe not the best plan. Of course once we decided this, the following day was brilliant sunshine and great mountain views for the first time in weeks!
Got ourselves sorted to ride the "World's most dangerous road" - we started in full cloud at 4700m at La Cumbre, and as we dropped down the paved section eventually got a little bit more of a view (but not of any mountains, that would have to wait). Luckily it was not raining at this point, just freezing cold! As we were feeling energetic we decided to ride the extra 8km which was "uphill", and really just a little undulating, to the start of the real death road. Was nice to get the blood flowing a little with some uphill.
Interestingly, the death road is left-hand drive (rather than the rest of bolivia which is on the right). Apparently this is because the driver going down the hill (who will be on the cliff) will be able to see exactly how close to the edge he is going, being a left hand drive, and the driver coming up the hill will be hugging the cliff as close as he can get, as he can also see perfectly.
Luckily for us, the road is barely used anymore, since the next highway was put in, in 2005. The only traffic we met was the support vehicles for other groups and one lonely motorcyclist.
The ride itself was pretty straight forward - kind of like a flatter Rapaki track, with a few waterfalls to go under and the odd stream crossing and mud section. Our group was pretty much smashing it, overtaking nearly all the other groups. We got totally soaked early on when it decided to rain after all, and so the loss in altitude was excellent as it got rather cold again!
Fortunately by the time we got to 1200m at the bottom, we were feeling warm and down to shorts and t shirts.
After a very late lunch (which we counted as dinner) we were headed back to La Paz and the comforts of bed.
Today was our last day in La Paz, and a bit of a fail - we tried to got to the valley of the moon, and so asked where to catch the bus and what number, and so headed there. However on trying to get on the bus we were told no it was not 42, it was 34. On trying 34 we were told no it was 28, and then 43. Eventually 43 was the most consistent number, but there was no bus 43! Having now wasted most of the morning, we set off to buy some souvieners and a bus ticket to Copacabana the next day.. all the while longingly staring at the mountains in the sun (and reminding myself that the forecast is still horrible for the forseeable future... except tomorrow)