29th Mar 2008
I´m finally in Bolivia!! This is the country I have been mostly looking forward to since arriving on this continent, and for a good reason! I LOVE LOVE LOVE Bolivia!!! Finally I´m in a country that feels and looks different to Europe, unlike most countries here. The people here are mostly of Indian-origin and have brown, round faces which are constantly having to endure the eternal mountain winds that blow here. After three days here, my own face is starting to look brown and hardened by the wind! Hah :) Well, maybe that´s a good thing since it helps me blend in a bit better. So far I haven´t seen a single blonde Bolivian, and a local guy even called me "barbie" today due to my hair...haha! Now that´s a first! ;)
The people also have a very distinct way of dressing... the ladies anyway. You gotta love it! It´s very colourful and very Indian-like somehow. Annie, a fellow traveller from England, wrote the perfect description in her blog: "It´s almost old American Western meets My Fair Lady. Knee-length flowery skirts, little white blouses, knitted cardigans, big checked or flowery aprons, and whether you are five or eighty-five, long dark hair tied in plaits, wearing flat wide brimmed hats with a bow tied round."
The Bolivian kids are also the cuuuuutest kids I´ve seen in South America. They remind me of the children in Asia. Many of them have dirty little faces with red cheeks (I guess their faces are hardened by the winds too!), and snot is running down from their noses 24/7.... awww, makes me want to hug them all! Many kids are also dressed up in the traditional costumes, or their moms carry them in their backs with the help of a colorful blanket. So adorable! Unfortunately the Bolivians don´t tend to be the most social of South Americans, and that makes it a bit hard to befriend them and their kids. I´ve been taking loads of photos of all the cute kids though, maybe one day I will have a photo exhibition. :P
Oh, another thing that is amazing about Bolivia is the nature! I took a 3-day jeep journey from Chile to Bolivia, and we went over the Uyuni salt desert, which is the biggest salt flat in the whole world! The salt almost looks like snow, and I took some really cool photos at the salar. Anywhere you look, you just see white, white, white... for a total of 112 miles, something like 170 km.... it´s really unreal, but really beautiful.
During the 3-day tour we also passed by several lagoons of different colors: pink, green, red, white... and saw bunches of flamingoes chilling around. And we went to swim in a thermal pool. And what was the coolest was that we spent the night at a hotel made of salt!! The salt hotel had walls made of salt, tables and chairs made of salt and the floor was just a bunch of salt thrown around. It was kind of like being in an ice hotel, except luckily a lot warmer! Oh, and we also visited an island that was filled with cactuses and was standing there by itself in the middle of the all-white salt flat... wooow...
Right now I´m in Potosi, a town some 4.060 km above the sealevel (about 2.5 miles)! They say this is the biggest city in the world that is located at this height. I went to see a local football game today, and you gotta hand it to those players running around in this altitude! I´m struggling just climbing up a street or two here! The air is definitely thinner up here, but luckily I´ve adjusted surprisingly well. No major headaches or anything, which is great. I´ve also had a few cups of coca tea, which is supposed to help you deal with high altitudes. It´s not particularly tasty, but what can you do. Don´t want to risk getting mountain sickness and ending up at a respirator! Another option is to chew on coca leaves, which is what the locals swear by. (BTW, coca tea/coca leaves don´t have much to do with cocaine --apparently you need 4 kilos of those leaves to even prepare 1 gram of cocaine... hardly worth the trouble in my opinion, hah!).
But yeah, what a strange little country! Most cities here are located at breath-taking altitudes and the people here are definitely one of a kind... and the nature is super beautiful! Valleys and mountains and cool rock formations... Can´t help but love Bolivia! :)
|29th Mar 2008 Out in the desert in Bolivia|
|29th Mar 2008 Having fun at the salt flats!|
|Check out that shadow! Cool, eh|
|29th Mar 2008 Fisherman island|
|This island at the salt desert was filled with huge cactuses!|
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