Fancy Footwork

24 Jul

Our trip is almost over … its been a fabulous time, and a good way to get to know each other. One last photo: we had, by coincidence, very similar looking hiking boots and almost identical sandals. Here’s the proof.

Wish we could have trodden across Bolivia more!

Google Doodle: Rediscovery of Machu Picchu

24 Jul

Just saw this on the local (Bolivian) Google page: a widget celebrating 100 years since the rediscovery of Machu Picchu:

Monkeying Around: Last Day in Bolivia (Take Two)

24 Jul

This is the second time we´ve gotten to spend a last day in Bolivia. We used it to visit an animal sanctuary close to Samaipata which houses monkeys, birds and a ragtag collection of other animals which are ex-pets or found in need of help. What we really wanted to see was howler monkeys, because we´d repeatedly heard their eerie calls (sounded like a train in the distance) in the jungle without ever getting to see one. At the sanctuary we had no problems seeing them. In fact, one curled itself around Phils neck for about 20 minutes.

We also had a great time playing with Simón, the spider monkey.

A three hour trufti ride had us back in Santa Cruz in the early eve

ning, just in time to get into an ice-cream parlour and see the closing minutes of the Paraguay-Uruguay finale of the Americas Cup (Uruguay won 3:0).

Now we´re ensconced back in our 4-star hotel repacking and getting ready to leave (again).

Samaipata and El Fuerte

23 Jul

We used our extra two days in Bolivia to go back to a town which we´d passed through on the road from Sucre to Santa Cruz. Samaipata is a small village in the cool hills above the eastern lowlands in which Santa Cruz sprawls. It offers great hikes (its  close to the Parque Nacional Aboro which has a lot of pristine – and some not-so-pristine – jungle and savannah), and its also very close to the mysterious ancient  ruins which are now called El Fuerte (the fort).

We visited El Fuerte on Saturday afternoon; its a pre-Inca ceremonial site (not a fort) which is eroded but impressive, partly because of its beautiful location on a high hilltop. Because we were there so late, we pretty much had the place to ourselves, and after walking around the site, we hiked the 9km back to Samaipata, arriving just after dark.

The village is a great backpacker hangout: lots of people, some funky restaurants and some really good accomodation. If I was not afraid of tempting more American Airlines fate, I´d say that I would like to spend more time there.

American Airlines Grants us more of Bolivia

23 Jul

We´d continually been saying how we needed more time in Bolivia than the three weeks we´ve had.

At 7AM this morning, American Airlines granted us an extra two days when the flight which was supposed to take us back to Miami was summarily cancelled, leaving us with a fistful of vouchers (including two nights at a sterile 4-star hotel in the wealthy Equipetrol suburb of Santa Cruz) and two extra days in Bolivia.  We dumped rucksacks in the 4-star hotel and headed back out.

A Toucan, A Toothbrush and Me

22 Jul

The hotel we´re staying at in Santa Cruz has a resident toucan named Simon.

I got acquainted with him for the first time this morning while brushing my teeth, and it didn´t take long to discover his interests.

The Last (and most Adventurous) Night Bus

22 Jul

On Thursday night we caught the last night bus of our trip, from Sucre to Santa Cruz in the easter lowlands of Bolivia. In the last hours of daylight the road was spectacular: winding down a steep valleyside along a dusty road, and then lightening in every direction as night came, a thunder storm which never seemed to end (and brought very little rain to us, which was good because most of the road was dirt).

“I´m not going to sleep at all tonight”, said Phil.

“I´m going to stay awake and watch the lightening”.

But the storm ended in the evening, and he was very sound asleep when the bus broke down at 2am, blocking a hairpin turn on a very dusty stretch of road up on a hillside in the middle of  nowhere. By the time I got out to have a look, there were 7 buses ahead of us and three behind us. Everyone was suprisingly calm: I think this kind of thing happens a lot on this stretch of road. They blew dirt off the engine and did some grunt work beneath the rear drive, but it seemed to be an ignition fault.

After about 90 minutes, Phil woke up – just in time to help out as a huge crowd of people pushed the bus along the road, clearing it for other traffic. Suddenly we were alone with our broken-down bus at 3:30 in the morning.

Then a truck came by … and then another bus, and this one stopped and allowed us to hitch onto it with a tow-pole. Suddenly the bus was jump started, and we were back on the road, with no further problems.

The entire twenty-hour trip to Santa Cruz was lightened by Isabel, the woman sitting behind me who befriended me and repeatedly launched into detailed explanations (in Spanish) on the dinasour footprints, pre-Inca ruins, the problems with globalization and everything in between. 75% of it was victim to my bad Spanish, but I understood enough to know that she really knew what she was talking about: she works for some kind of tourism NGO in Sucre.

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