Birthday break time
Trip Start Aug 03, 2010
152Trip End Feb 01, 2012
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Where I stayed
Tupiza is a nice town of 40,000 set in a valley surrounded by colorful mountains and rock formations. We found a nice little hostel with a hot shower to scrub away the layers of grime. It had the first shower curtain I've seen in Bolivia, usually the t.p. and clothes have to be outside the bathroom during showers so they don’t get wet. We also had use of a kitchen, laundry sink and clothes line.
Alvaro, our host at the hostal stressed how important it is to wash the salt off the car a.s.a.p. He also runs a tour company that goes to the salt flats, their tour vehicles are washed immediately after ever trip. He arranged for us to have Rover washed for the first time since leaving home. It had inches of mud (not to mention salt) build-up under the fenders from 10 months of driving, even after chipping away at it when we drove through the Rio Grande. Two kids spent over an hour with a pressure washer and rags scrubbing until we barely recognized Rover.
It was so nice to wake up in the morning and be warm (we had our hotplate in the room for heat). We took a horseback tour through one of the quebradas (dry riverbeds) and wound our way through some beautifully eroding mountains. I was a little hesitant because I’ve ridden rental horses twice in my life and both times were disaster (like riding a stubborn mule). My horse, Mora was sweet, the only time she didn’t listen to me was riding by her corral when she whinnied to her baby and tried to go to him. Carlos, our guide, told me to keep pushing her or we wouldn’t get anywhere. She was fine after we passed.
Last week, when we were camping, miserably cold and windswept in the southwest, we day-dreamed of settling down, not having to set up camp every night or drive on bad roads or fix any mechanical booboos for a while… we decided Tupiza was the place. We stayed for over a week. Hooray, there will be no freezing on my birthday! Not that we needed any more reasons to stay, but there were also roadblocks on all roads leaving town (and all around Bolivia, we were told) as a protest to new legislation on vehicle taxes.
We did a lot of walking around town and through the mercados (hundreds of small, tightly packed stalls selling everything from food and herbal medicines to electronics and tires). We took naps, ate ice cream cones in the sunshine, cooked some great meals. We sat in the morning sun eating breakfast and drinking coffee on our balcony watching people walk by on the sidewalk below checking out Rover, straining their necks to look back again and again – I must admit, it is a sight to behold. We learned what time the pastry lady shows up at the mercado, she had excellent cream puffs, mini custard-filled tarts, donuts, we tried them all… I’m drooling just thinking about it. We bought a handful of DVDs (very inexpensive here) and watched movies every night.