Sunday, April 26, 2015

Bolivian Rain, an odyssey in itself

Few says after that I was publishing the tale about our transport odyssey in Bolivia, we had a bigger and graver adventure with the Bolivian rain, this time while camping. After the odyssey that left us in Pucara, we visited a little of the "The Che's Route", a touristic route of the last days of the Bolivian Guerilla. First we visited La Higuera, were El Che was ultimated, and Valle Grande, where his body was exposed. And from there we went to the town of Samaipata to meet up with our friends Seba and Clari. Samaipata had been recommended as a spectacular place to spend a few days of relax and rest. We settled where the guys were volunteering, the camping El Jardín, a beautiful place. Just to say that of the over 10 days we were camping there, except to go grocery shopping, we left it only one day. For the weekend Of Easter, "Holy Week" in South America, we had gotten a job helping out in a restaurant And we were going to bed quite tired; me, on Saturday, I hadn't gone to work because I was sick all day, feeling really bad in the stomach. Then came the dawn on Sunday morning, around 5 am, before the sun showed itself, and we were woken by some hysterical shouting. It was raining, so we thought that some drunk girl had gotten wet. But it was just that. When I tried to stick my head out, and sat, it felt weird, like floating. I touched the sides of the tent and it wasn't just wet, there was a lot of water. I told Julia "we are floating!", "What?", "We are floating! We are flooding inside!". I open the zipper to look outside and saw that what used to be a beautiful camp site was now a 300 square feet lagoon, two feet deep! I took off running with our valuable stuff and went to the kitchen to leave them. By the time I got back to the tent, the water reached my hip. Like so I dragged the tent to where I had seen dry land, which wasn't by the time I got there. With Julia we tried to safeguard our things as bes we could, and then I went to help Sebi and Clari who were camping in another spot (according to the tale I was the living image of Tarzan, since after all I was still only in my undies). The we all ran again when we heard the kitchen was flooding, and rescued what we could. The place I HD chosen to leave our valuables was filled with water, and days later we confirmed the loss of Julia's reflex camera. The computer was saved, same as the cellphones, but everything including passports was soaked and took days to dry well. Finally the rain stopped, the flood stopped climbing, and we could get ourselves together. With the passing of the hours and days we knew that all three camping near the center had suffered the same, some worst than us, with people that lost whole  backpacks and torn tents. So it turns out that the rain is not our allied in Bolivia, y we are going to better plan for future disasters. Regards to everyone! See you around the world! And despite any disaster: DON'T FORGET TO BE HAPPY!!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Odyssey of travelling with rain through Bolivia

     The adventure of travelling with no heading or dates always comes with unforeseen events: sleeping in the square, eating bread with jam for dinner, being invited to eat in a restaurant or by someone who saw you in need. And just until recently, we had avoided transport issues.

     It was in Nuevo Mundo, that last town in Chuquisaca in our path from Sucre to Santa Cruz, were we found ourselves imprisoned by the circumstances and after a full day where only "La Flota", the long distance bus, circulated the road, we took the decision of paying it with no other option on sight.


     The Odyssey was travelling 80 kilometres in 10 hours; when already the normal duration is three hours. The main obstacle was the rain, which seemed to be falling by the bucket, foreseeing a hard day, and which for starters delayed the arrival of the "movilidad" (the transport). We climbed filled with confidence anyway. The first stop was just shy of an hour. It was obvious the driver knew the road because they stopped a prudent distance and went walking up to the hard curves. After a time while we were intrigued what they were doing, they came back to try to go ahead. The first complicated  turn was overcome without hesitation; the second one overcame us. And the order was: "everyone down, we have to push". So it was necessary to shovel, push and pull; and it took five tries to get out. There two buses, and both sunk, although the other one got out at the second push/pull. Since there was another hard spot ahead, we were sent walking a few hundred meters. And again it was necessary to dig, push, pull, although this second time it was easier to keep going.

     It seemed we would go on well until, as we it been advised before, we arrived to a climb with a curve and counter curve, uphill, which was muddy and very wet, which made us stop the march. We were several hours stopped, waiting for the sun to do its job, airing and drying the road. After that there was shovel and hoe, to help the track, and give a try to the climb. There were two or three moments (per curve) in which we pushed and worked the road some more, until we reached the summit. From there it was known that the road was good, until we stopped  so that whoever wanted could eat, and others like us could buy a watermelon, until we crossed the bridge over the "Rio Grande" (the Big River).


     The end wasn't going to be so simple: a land slide laid a considerable rock in the road. There came out new tools, hammer and a crowbar, to reduce that stone. Also, in parallel, we had to level a little the stone-slide so the bus would fit between what was left of the rock and the mountain.

     Summing up, having left at 9 in the morning from Nuevo Mundo, and having gone through 82 kilometres (55 miles), we arrived around 7:30 at night to Pucara. We don't want to give the impression that the service was bad (although maybe expensive considering the work done) since even in all those hours on the road we didn't see any vehicles that could have taken us.

     This is just one of the many adventure tales of going around Bolivia.

Don't forget to be happy, whether it rains, snow or hail.