Friday, September 7, 2012

La Paz to Cochabamba

Good morning from Cochabamba! Since we last wrote, we have recovered from the minor tear gassing in La Paz. That afternoon we took it easy and relaxed. On Wednesday we went to a mirador, or lookout point, called Killi Killi. This is in a non-touristy area of La Paz and provides a great, near 360 degree, view of the city. Being a mirador it was high up, so we got some excercise climbing up the hill to get there. On the way we also got to see some of the real La Paz, where regular people live. The photos above were taken at the mirador.
Yesterday we got up early and headed for the main bus terminal in La Paz, which is conveniently located about two blocks uphill from our bed and breakfast. Apparently Bolivia regulates the price of long distance buses and next to the terminal information booth there is a list of price maximums for different levels of service and destination. Needless to say, since we were taking a day bus, a cama seat was unnecesary, and for 20 Bolivianos each we were on the 9:00 AM bus to Cochabamba, a 7 hour trip through the not so beautiful Bolivian countryside. Our bus ended up leaving closer to 9:30, pretty standard for this part of the world, and we arrived closer to 5:00 PM. After doing our usual tour of the city looking for lodging, we found a place to stay close to the market and the city center. After unloading our bags, we decided to search for food, which entailed walking around the block. After walking around one corner, we saw a clefero! A clefero is a glue-sniffer, and according to the various travel warnings, cleferos often move in groups and can attack and rob people. Apparently in a country where coca leaves can be bought on every corner, the local junkies have switched to sniffing glue. Anyways, this guy didn't look capable of walking up a staircase, let alone even attempting to rob another human. So we continued on and found an empanada shop with some interesting new flavors. Sarah had an empanada with spinach, cheese, and egg, as well as a chicken empanada, and I had a chicken and beef empanada and one filled with charque. Charque comes from the Quechua word charqui, which is where the English word jerky is derived from. Here charque is llama meat that has been dried and baked. Normally it is also fried, but since this was in an empanada, I think that step was omitted. Needless to say, it was delicious, although it did have a rather unique texture. In case you haven't committed our itinerary to memory, we mention that Cochabamba is known for having the best food in Bolivia, and we will be providing ongoing reports. We will keep you posted!!

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