Our bus trip was very impressive, we dropped around 2000 m and so went from snow capped mountains and icicles to green gorges filled with trees. We also had views of the infamous ‘world’s most dangerous road’ while we drove along the replacement road. We arrive at Coroico – a small town set on the hillside surrounded by forests and head to our hostel Sol y Luna. It’s meant to be an eco-hostel which we think is code for being a bit rustic and having cold showers but it’s a beautiful location set on the hillside and has its own grounds to wander around. First we walk around the grounds to take in the views – unfortunately within minutes of sitting down we’re bitten several times by what we now think are sand flies. I counted 12 on me after that encounter – so we have to pay for being in much more pleasant climate....
For dinner we head down into town which despite being small buzzes at this time with everyone hanging about in the main square – a positive side of a more pleasant climate. We eat at one of the local cafe places which surprise surprise has football playing.
We wake up the next day to clouds – the clouds have come down the valley and blocked out all visibility so we take this as an excuse for a lazy day
. We potter around town and our main activities today seem to be eating – lunch is pancakes and cake at a German cafe and dinner is trout lasagne for Jonny and llama steak for me at one of the neighbouring hostels ‘El Cafetal’. Only issue is that as it’s an open kitchen Jonny can see that his lasagne has just gone into the oven, as my plate is served to me. Restaurant service or any kind of service in Bolivia leaves a lot to be desired as this kind of thing doesn’t seem to bother them, along with chatting to their friends, answering mobiles or generally doing nothing instead of working. Bolivia has tried our patience on numerous occasions but we’re just learning never to go to a restaurant hungry.
We then go to a bar called Carla’s bar for drink, which is a cool outdoor bar just down from the main plaza. Most of the bars or restaurants here that have a quirky touch tend to be part European owned. We get chatting to the owners and they organise a taxi for us to take us out to a coffee plantation for the next day.
Next day, the taxi doesn’t turn up. We hear rumours of a truck blocking the road and so we’ll give the taxi drive the benefit of doubt. We decide to walk it despite the shockingly bad directions we get from the hostel
. They’re not really big on maps here or detailed directions – we’re literally told "walk past the hospital, take the right hand fork on the road and walk for 30 minutes and then ask someone". Excellent. So we find the first fork, take a right and check with some locals we’re on the right road and then we come to the second fork that no-one has told us about. We spend a couple minutes considering if I was Bolivian which road looks like the main road (they’re both dirt tracks), and make a guess. The next 40 minutes is spent walking along and checking with any locals we meet that we’re on the right road until we come to the right village – we made it and we even saw a monkey on the way. Now to find the right house. We manage to find some children who do their best to explain to the strange foreigners wandering about the jungle which house it is and their last word to us is ‘Dog’ in English. Oh dear. I think I know the house so I walk cautiously down the drive trying not to wake the dogs and trying to signal to the family that we’re here. Eventually I get a girl’s attention and she holds the dogs back with a stick and disappears with them. We presume that she is locking the dogs away or hiding the cocaine factory – either one. We then get a guided tour of the family’s coffee plantation, which is quite small but interesting to see plus they’re very proud of their coffee and the fact that they export to Japan, Germany and the U.S. We then get to try some of the fresh coffee – expressos which I pour into Jonny’s cup when no one is looking and a frappacino which is pretty tasty. We then start to walk back but cop out when a taxi passes offering to drive us back to town. The rest of the day is spent by the pool, which may be the first time since we arrived in S. America.
Later on in the hostel we bump into the couple we did the salt flat tour with a couple of weeks ago and so we head for drinks with them and trade Bolivian experiences.
The next day we get a taxi to the bus station to go to Coroico – a town 80 km out of La Paz at the start of the jungle region. We arrive at the bus agency to be told there is no petrol and so no buses are going – it's starting to feel like S. America now. We later find out that the residents of El Alto had blockaded the main road in and out of La Paz, and also one of the main plants, and so no one was getting in or out of La Paz. Fortunately for us, a minibus driver came to the rescue and claimed he had petrol, we left about an hour later once the minibus had filled up and numerous random parcels had been put on the top of minibus with directions such as 'deliver to the last kiosk in San Pablo’, they don’t seem to do addresses here. We were fortunate to get out of La Paz that day as our friends that were to arrive to La Paz that morning, were dropped off outside El Alto and forced to walk for four hours through the blockade and into town. The blockade came to an end later that day when the government promised the residents the completion of a project to provide the area with piped gas and sewage systems