Special Delivery!

Jim and I have been taking it a little more easy in the lead up to the arrival of the “Special Cargo” (as my gorgeous Sister calls it).

We had an interesting journey back to La Paz. Our Wara Wara train from Uyuni was scheduled for 01.45AM. OK, booked the full night in a hotel and had a short kip & shower before we left. Got to the train station and everyone was in the waiting room with their makeshift beds (cardboard box, couple of blankets, sleeping bag). Hmmm. Turns out the train was late, not just 30 or 40 mins but 5 hours late! Everyone had come prepared, clearly this isn’t the first time Wara Wara has been “Where where?”. There was a cold, dark, empty train carriage at the station, so Jim and I got into what we thought were our seats and eventually shivered our way into sleep. A few hours later someone came to claim their seats (oops). As it turns out,  the carriage wasn’t attached to the train we needed – so it was lucky we were turfed out!

Rural Bolivia is fascinating….

Expansive plains of scrubby grass or Quinoa, roaming Llamas, remnants of small villages and their houses built of mud brick. The most extensive high plateau (altiplano) in the World outside of Tibet.

Eventually the bus from Oruro descends from El Alto down into the enormous valley where La Paz is situated – surrounded by snowy mountain peaks.

We hung out at Hotel Nuevo Sol in La Paz (220 bob / £22 a night, fantastic location on Linares) for a while in a lovely big room. Another couple of days were swallowed up trying to organise a response to the leak in my flat to find the fault, faced with no help from neighbours – in the end my parents had to assist. Upstairs has taken to writing personal emails to complain that I have implied it is his fault, and treat him as if he’s guilty until proven innocent.

“I don’t mind to do all I can to help with the situation while you are out of the country, but I really don’t want to do anything if you think the faulty pipes are in flat 5 and I am responsible to sort this out.”

Erm, yes I do think the fault is most likely to be yours, and – as such – yes I do think you are responsible to sort this out!

We looked around the Coca Museo, which was interesting after seeing the older folks and road workers chewing the leaves. We looked at a few alpaca shops and artesana stores. We ate lovely Argentinian steaks, and Dutch bitterballen & currywurst. I had far too many hot chocolates (with cream and marshmallows) at Cafe el Mundo. We sampled the Bolivian speciality ‘Salteñas’ – like Cornish pasties but even more tasty and with gravy not just meat. We checked out Plaza Murillo. And we had a few drinks at the English Pub, Wild Rover Hostel and a late night bar. That was pretty much it! We toyed with the idea of cycling Death Road, but it was £80 each so preferred to save the cash for Peru. And we did book a tour to see Tiahuanaco, a pre-Incan site with megalithic walls, monoliths, and a sun and moon gate – but unfortunately the people of the Altiplano up at El Alto have to resort to bloqueos to express their political might, and the road was blocked for two days. No tour. Qué será.

Bolivian Jokes

Jim’s memoirs:

“Easy as A to Zzzzzzzzzzz”

First chapter:
“I’m going to slip into something more comfortable.
Bed.”

We were super excited to leave for Peru, in preparation for “The Arrival”. We flew in on Thursday 12th and made our way through the fog (the “Garua”) to our apartment for 4 nights in Miraflores.

Waiting to board at the airport:
“I find it annoying sitting here”
“Yes, I find you annoying sitting here too”

Even though we arrived during a power cut and were using head torches, we knew the apartment was AMAZING! Its like slipping back into the old skin of your former life. 2 big bedrooms, 2 balconies, kitchen with table for 6, laundry room, hot water in a great shower, speedy wifi, comfy beds, big TV, white fluffy towels… its rude to appreciate a decent place this much!

Some effusive phrases we have actually uttered (after the power cut 😉 :

“I’ve used the hair dryer!”

“OMG we can wash our clothes – let’s get some fabric conditioner!

“I am ironing my tops!!! At last! I’m so happy!”

If being in a nice apartment was like a slipping into your old life, walking around Miraflores was not. It was a culture shock. But not in the way you will expect. We found the sunken mall at the seafront (Larcomar) – brand new shiny shops lined up around lovely restaurants with sea views – and were wide-eyed in a kind of awe. Awe full, yep, pretty much. We haven’t seen anywhere so shiny, clean and angular for a long time. We sort of shrank away from it a bit, feeling a bit out of place and subconsciously affirming we couldn’t afford anything, at all, in any shop. An interesting glimpse of a reaction many would have to the super-posh bit of this city.

We spent the next day shopping, lying in the sun on the balcony, washing clothes and cooking for ourselves…. awaiting our special cargo.

“Now, do you want a bit of ‘Basic Instinct’?”

 

THE ARRIVAL

The package arrived and were in the hotel bar by 10.30pm. Jim and I are 3mins away so nipped over for a night cap. The Pennies looked surprisingly well after a long day’s flying (guess that’s Business Class for you!).

Strange contradiction – being in the hotel bar was like we’d seen each other last week, suddenly the time and distance of the last 5 months was minimised to nothing, a blip, a moment. And yet, walking home to our apartment and looking at their hotel from our balcony, it was the most surreal thing in the World. My parents and brother, here with us on our strange and wonderful journey, for the next chapter! Feeling very blessed at this moment. What a life!

Missing our lovely Sister and Karl of course… lots of whatsapp messaging in order methinks!

Of course the hilarity started immediately, despite jet lag and tired minds.

“Mum, I LOVE your new hair cut, you look great!”
“Yes, I’ve been shawn, I went to the barbers in Berkhamstead for the cut. The hairdresser’s name was Shaun actually!”
……………
“Oh yes, the Great Banana Saga! I managed to get this banana half-way across the globe and they only found it when we were leaving Lima Airport. The guard called me back “WAIIIIIT!! Is THAT a banana? Is it your ONLY one?”
“Must have been a plant(ain)”

 

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