Thursday 31 May
Once again we could potentially go to visit the mines. Once again we decide we can’t be bothered. Apparently it’s been due to collapse “any day now” for a good number of years. I’m happy to sit in a crap cafe all morning and eat rubber eggs. Our bus out of this interesting part of the world isn’t until 9pm. This means that once again we can spend a productive day doing absolutely nothing. Potosi is the highest city in the world, and at 13,420ft, the lack of oxygen makes you tired. That’s our excuse anyway.
At around 9 bells we’re standing in the cold outside the most ridiculous bus station you could ever imagine. It’s like a flying saucer, which echos with the haunting calls of women trying to sell you seats on coaches. Their wails are totally indiscernible, so what the point is I don’t really know. It literally sounds like women howling over their dead lovers on a battlefield. I pay to go to the toilet, then I pay to exit the bus station. Finally we’re standing waiting for our ride that should leave at nine, but instead doesn’t depart for another half an hour, just to make us freeze all the more.
You either have the choice of Cama, Semi-Cama or normal. That basically means you’re either lying down, half lying down, or sitting straight up. Our only option for this 6 hour journey is a semi, which is once again a total sham of a seat. It’s impossible to get comfortable and warm, and I’m sure these buses have been constructed solely for the use of small Inca people with blankets. I stir myself awake to notice my head trying to locate Paddy’s shoulder in the seat next to mine. I wish I’d managed it, just so I could have drooled on his new Alpaca wool top.
Some time later we’re stirred for a toilet stop in the freezing cold blackness. Be warned, most of these buses don’t have loos, which is insane if you’re on the road for hours at a time. I’m forced to stumble off the carriage and into the proverbial waiting pack of street dogs, icy temperatures and shady lavatories. Hygiene takes a back seat here, and ‘creature comforts’ are words that Bolivians know nothing of. Hold your nose and get out as quickly as possible.
I feel drunk by the time we reach a closed hostel in Tupiza. After leaning on the bell for an eternity, a speccy unimpressed youth opens the door and we fall in. It’s 2,45am, and we’ve (not) slept on a bus. Anything will do as we crash out in reasonable beds, the covers charged with the job of keeping the layer of bitter air at bay.Read More