Brilliant beautiful Bolivia

Trip Start May 27, 2011
1
8
26
Trip End Ongoing


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Where I stayed
Wasi Masi, Sucre
What I did
Looked after orphans (Mary Poppins can do one)

Flag of Bolivia  ,
Monday, July 18, 2011

So after returning from the jungle, with a stop off in La Paz, we headed down to the city of Sucre - the capital of Bolivia. And it was a lovely surprise, especially after La Paz, which is to quote Jeremy Clarkson "the highest and THE WORST city in the world".

Sucre is pretty, sunny and best of all, cheap. For instance Trevor got a HUGE meal called a Pique Macho which contained sausage, steak, peppers, chips, eggs, chillies, onions and tomatoes - for 3.50.  A glass of wine was 90p and a mojito 70p. This might go some way to explaining why we stayed in Sucre for 2 weeks!

I think because of all the lounging about and eating in the first week, the guilt got the better of us and we finally got round to doing some voluntary work. We arrived at the doors of San Juan de Dios, an orphanage near the hospital and we were asked in and taken to a room which we assumed would be an office where we would be given a briefing etc.. In actual fact it was a big airy room full of babies and toddlers. The nurse then told us to basically get to work... it was a bit of a shock to be thrown in immediately but you quickly know exactly what to do. I've been told that having a toddler you need eyes in the back of your head. When you are in charge of 15 toddlers you need to undertake Operation Damage Control - stop one child hitting another with a plastic rattle, whilst preventing another making a jailbreak through the window, whilst a third is eating the paper out of a colouring book. The fourth and fifth child are lying on the ground having crying tantrums. :) Its amazing what little children will eat, took in wax crayons one day and all 9 coloured crayons went missing, good thing they are edible. The 2 year old, Camila, gave me a big black wax-crayony grin. So I spent the next 10 minutes trying to make her spit it all out.

But they were really good fun, our favourites (not that you are supposed to have them) are Naomi (me) and Camila (Trevor). Both were feisty little girls who occasionally liked to beat up boys for fun (!) The child that gave us the most trouble was Juan Pablo who was a little criminal in the making, but he even had a sweet side sometimes. Our main duties were feeding and playing with the children. And keeping them out of trouble. They originate from either broken homes or have been abandoned. But the orpahage is well run (... those efficient nuns again) and the kids are happy.

We had to tear ourselves away from Sucre in the end, which was tricky as it was the closest we got to a 'home' with a nice hostel, some friends in the local pub and our pretend children :)  Its amazing how attached we got to the kids in just a week.  But we made a break for it and travelled on to Potosi. The weather was a shock, from 25 degrees to zero degrees and under. We then went on to Uyuni the next morning, which was colder still. This was all to experience the Salar De Uyuni (the largest salt flats in the world). The landscape itself looks like a retro 1980's fantasy airbrush poster. Pure white land, blue sky and random cacti and flamingos here and there. We heard stories of tourists that attempted to do the tour on their own, only to break down on the flats and die of exposure. It covers 12,000 sq kms and although completely flat, the curvature of the earth means that every 4 miles or so you would 'disappear' over the horizon. Luckily our driver was a trained mechanic, we know this because he rescued another tour group part-way through the day. My hero. We had great fun taking photos playing around with the perspective. It is a truly stunning and surreal place which we will never forget. 

From Uyuni we took the 3.30am (yes, am) train to Tupiza. We were huddled around a single bar fire in a freezing cold train station for 3 hours, with only a herbal tea and some Dutch students for company, it's more fun than it sounds.

Tupiza is within spitting distance of Argentina and was our chance to ride horses through Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid territory. Trevor's soundtrack on the horse - 'Rawhide', my soundtrack on the horse - 'Bonanza'.

After Tupiza we got on a bus to Argentina, leaving our second (and favourite) country so far...Ciao Bolivia - when you're good you're great, when you're bad you're a story to tell our mates :)
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Comments

Theo and Sheila on

Hi there,

we have browsed through your blog. Looks really good! We will be spending some time going through your stories and photos in preparation for South America.

We enjoyed the afternoon with you very much! Good to share this nice hobby...

Keep in touch,

Cheers,

Theo and Sheila

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