Bolivia!! This place blows my mind

Yep I have been trying for 3 days to get blog up with photos!! managed to get a few up but the Internet has some issues with my site I need to work out… Thanks guys and I will get more of the photos up as soon as I can. Not sure when that will be? No Internet for a while again I think..

I feel a lot like Frodo Baggins heading out on his quest to save the world not knowing what lies ahead.

I’m not really out to save the world although I am on a new path each day and I am meeting new people and seeing different things which changes my perspective on life as I have seen it.

I hope I continue to learn and find ways of helping people more and possibly trying to change how people think about how we treat the earth and possibly change it..

Here I am siting at the beautiful Aguas Calientes in the east of Bolivia… The river is usually very warm and great for a dip but unfortunately for me there has been a good week of rain and the river has risen so the water is quite cold.. Luckily there is a little sun today… Just sitting listening to the water flow and the birds sing as I wait 5 hours to catch the bus back to Robore where I am staying a few days for some trips on the side..

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Absolutely loving all the new insects I see everyday that blow my mind… its so diverse here in Bolivia I saw many types of ants, wasps, catipilers and who know what else all in the space of a few square meters. Loving every minute of it..

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Below the unfortunate reality of Bolivia and the world…. they have many bins in the park with signs to put your rubbish in the bins….. to then go…… you guessed it, in a pile in the corner of the park. Very sad.
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Well I’ll continue where I left up. I spent my last few days with the boys from the orphanage at Jesus de Nazereth where I ended up helping out in the afternoons and weekends for nearly four weeks. It was such a great time to see the nine boys aged 8 to 19. It was my favorite time of the day.. The boys go to school in the mornings then in the afternoon they spend time cleaning etc and then they work on homework and they can play football etc. I helped where I could with homework and talking, then playing a lot of games…. Marbles, tazos, football, basketball. It really took me back to being a boy.

I don’t really know the background of the boys and why they are there but I do know the youngest of eight years was seen on the streets for a while with his young sister then one time he was found on the street in a box.. One of the guys who rotates a 24 hour shift with the other found him and took him to the orphanage. His parents are alcoholics and would not take care of him. It’s unfortunate to see but it’s really nice to see the boys have each other.. They really are like brothers. They fight a lot but then make up and play like nothing happened.

There are a lot of orphanages in Sucre and need helpers.. I did it through the Bolivian Spanish School where I studied, they helped me organise everything.

It was a government run orphanage with the two guys who live with the boys. They were amazing and give a lot to help them. I helped there with another guy Leanard from my school.

We saw they didn’t have much in the way of clothes etc and it was starting to get pretty cold. The government group gave them a school uniform and shoes while we we there- apparently the first time in over a year.

I asked friends and family if they could assist and donate a little… I was blown away by the donations within 2 days we had just under $500AUD…

With the money we were able to buy each of the nine boys a beanie, scarf, gloves, hoody (jumper), socks, jocks, football jerseys, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, a day trip with food and photos for a poster from our day trip and a dragon ball z figurine..

It was a long day with the help or Leanard and Tania in the markets to buy everything but was worth every minute. We even got really nice wool scarves etc. The money really went a long way and all the boys were over the moon!!

A huge thank you to everyone that helped. The boys send their love to all.

In the final days we made a day trip to Yotala to a farm with the boys. They had a great time. They gave me a certificate to thank me for my time and wished me a safe journey.. They even gave me a farewell lunch. It was so difficult to leave. I will be back to see them, hopefully not too far in the future.
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Back to my home stay I went to say goodbye to my family. It was a great month and I had the best food. A huge thanks to Vladimir, Dorris, Carmincita, Pablo, James and Ximena.

I made my way to the bus terminal where I would take an overnight bus to Santa Cruz. I have to say it was the worst bus trip so far. Very windy and through the mountains with a crazy driver who thought we were in a race. Half an hour into the trip we burnt out the brakes and filled the bus with smoke so we all got off to get some fresh air… Not much further in we nearly had a head in with a truck because the driver wanted to overtake in the worst spot so boom!! Everyone ha there brakes on.. So not much sleep as we went through the haunted house!! It was also the hottest bus ever. Not sure why? But there was no air..

Well we arrived alive at 5am and I took a taxi to one of the hostels I had written down. Hostel Jadanga. I had to wait for checking at 2pm.. Tried looking for another hostel online while I waited that would take early checking but found nothing so relaxed as best as I could.. I checked in around 1pm. Had a shower and went for a walk in the city. It’s a nice hostel with a pool and good wifi! And breakfast is nice too, heaps of fruits and you can have 2 eggs on toast. Cost $80 for a 10 person room. I wanted to visit the museum but it was closed for maintenance.

The next day was raining on and off and quite cold but I wanted to make the most of my time and visit Güembé bio center. I took a taxi for 40 bolivianos. The way is pretty bad and a dirt road that was very muddy. My driver didn’t know where to go but we made it! Entry is $150 for the day. It’s really beautiful with a small museum, huge bird Avery, butterfly dome, pools, kayaks and a restaurant.. I had a blast and got some great photos, the Toucans and Macaws came up close. I recommend going if you visit Santa Cruz. It was definitely my highlight in Bolivia so far for wildlife up close and personal. Te taxi cost $60 bolivianos for the return trip with a regular who goes there often.

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The next day I took a Samaipata taxi for $30 bolivianos and got off at Gingers Paradise http://www.gingersparadise.com/ where I stayed for one week and worked a few days in the organic garden. You can go and just relax or work. It’s owned by Christabol an Sol who bought the land 15 years ago and are totally organic. The work is fun and the food is amazing. There is a beautiful river and lush forest with many birds and wonderful fruits.. Definitely a must see too..

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The rains came after a few days and it became very very wet and cold. I didn’t work a couple of days because of the weather and I was a little lazy he he.

I made my way to Samaipata to visit El fuerte ruins. I went up in the afternoon with a taxi that was $100 bolivianos round trip as he waited 2 hours. The weather was foggy and very cold. It was hard to see the ruins but I still enjoyed and it did take about 2 hours to get around. I went out to la luna verde resto bar for dinner and had a really nice Aztec soup (corn chips noodles and avacado), a steak and a spinach, strawberry and nuts salad..

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I stayed one night in El Jardin hostel
http://www.eljardinsamaipata.blogspot.com it’s a beautiful place to stay with a huge garden and the the price was $35 bolivianos per night! What a bargain.

The next morning I visited the archeological museum with the ticket from El Fuerte. It was ok but very small. I would only go there with the free ticket. Around lunch time I took one of the samaipata taxis from the plaza back to Santa Cruz to take the bus to Robore where I arrived aroun 2am.. Took a taxi to a hotel and didn’t sleep much. Seems to be only hotels in Robore around $70 bolivianos per night. No breakfast or kitchen so I am eating pretty simple.

Here at Aguas Calientes I found Los Hervores and El Burriño which was beautiful to relax and look around with no one else there.. You need to walk a little to the east along the train line until you see a big water tank on the left then on the right there is a sign. Walk down the road until you reach the river. Unfortunately it was cold also so I didn’t take a dip. I walked around and found many ants and insects to take photos of.. Now waiting a few hours for the bus to return. Getting chilly. Hoping to find something nice but cheap to eat tonight..

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Well I found a place to eat at and got some rice and meat- I try to eat red meat well cooked if I eat meat at all… I returned to my hotel and got ready for an early night.. I was woken around two hours later with the urge to use the toilet!!! Not a good way to wake up.. Was horrible as everything escaped my body.. Thankful it was only one round. I took the tablets the doctor have me. 2 antibiotic tablets and one immodium. He said if you are to have diaroeah it’s most likely going to be bacterial. Not to bad.. Only one time so far in 6 months. I’ve had a few stomach aches etc but no crazy onset like this.

I managed to get some sleep on and off with a very sweaty night. When I woke I drank some hydralyte to get some energy.. Slept a little more then went for a freezing cold shower because of course the hot water wouldn’t work. One more night in this hotel and move on to Santiago tomorrow to hopefully find a nice hostel.

Today I went to buy some fruits for breakfast and find a way to get to Chochis for the day. I was waiting for a bus where the lady from information said it would be. All the kids were out walking around. I was wondering what was happening. Well the bus never came and I didn’t want to take a taxi because the cost was $100 bolivianos when the bus is just $10.

I went and asked a taxi if he knew about the bus and he said it was Mother’s Day so that particular bus wasn’t running!! Oh well.. I didn’t want to hang around Robore, it’s really nothing to brag about. I managed to get to Chochis for $80 bolivianos and Miguel the driver played some good music which was great.

Chochis is a small town around 40kms from Robore and as you get close you see a huge rock cliff that spans across the horizon. It’s really beautiful. The town is small with very nice people and all playing music super loud he he.

I spent three hours walking around Santuario Mariano de La Torre. They have some beautiful wood carvings as the wooden poles of the building.

There is a huge rock that looks like it shot out of the ground. Very beautiful and a great place to walk up and sit on the edge of the cliff to eat and just watch the world go by.

It’s really a beautiful area with many birds and insects. I love it. Now as usual no one really knows what time the bus is due to go back to Robore. I will just wait and hope or if I get stuck I will call Miguel to come and save me.

Tomorrow I will move location to Santiago de Chiquitos where I hope to find a nice place to stay for a few nights and look around before heading bak to Santa Cruz to plan more..

Waking early in the morning to relax then head out for breakfast. All of the military were in the plaza playing football and volleyball in the street. They were running around the plaza in packs howling their leaders words. I took the bus to Santiago de Chiquitos from the plaza. The cost of most of the local buses are $10 bolivianos, taxi 10 for a short distance and 5 on a motorbike.

Arriving in Santiago I was dropped off out side alojamiento familiar and there was a nice guy who greeted me and I asked to have a look. The room is nice, will be a little cold at night but I have plenty of blankets and a sleeping bag. And there is hot water so I had a nice wash all for $40 bolivianos per night.

I made my way to a small restaurant for lunch and ate soup then meat with rice. It was nice and only 15 bolivianos for lunch. I then made my way on. 4.5km hike to El Mirador, it’s a nice walk along a dirt road and then climbing for a couple of kilometers. It was a nice sunny day and the view were amazing! There is so much forest here as far as you can see.

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It took around 1.5 hours to hike up then I spent around an hour looking around taking photos. I made my way back just before the sun went down. I was so hungry I had to eat at the restaurant again which was nice and at 20 bolivianos it’s a bargain.

Tomorrow I hope to visit some caves and a rock bridge but I need to organize a guide unfortunately. I would like to go alone but apparently there are many routes with no signs. Ah well see how we go.

Well I managed to organise a guide through the hostel where I am staying- alojamiento familiar. My guides name was Jose and he spoke only español which was great for me. I don’t spend a lot of time with other to speak. We set off after breakfast at 8:30am to walk through the beautiful forest just out of town which spans as far as the eye can see. I see why they say you need a guide, there are many trails and it would be easy to get lost.

We made our way through the bush at lightning speed and we went through a few different types of climate zones?? Not sure of that’s what you call it but we went through some lush forest then what was similar to a dry bush with not many trees to a grassland. It was up and down but the views were amazing!!

Jose pointed out a seed from a tree called the Pesoè which is used as medicine for throat and head. You burn the leaves with the seeds inside and breath smoke, it also drips oil which you can use on your nose an forehead to help clear the sinus.. He gave me some so i will try if I get a sore throat. I just need to remember to take them out before arriving back to Australia.

Jose mentioned that 30% of the trees in the area can be used for medicine. He loves reading and learning about the area.

Not far ahead he spotted a huge fresh paw print on the ground that he said was from a Tiger. Not sure what cat it is but it must be huge.

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After 5kms we reached the stone bridge and had a look around. Made our way a further 2kms to a waterfall and some caves. We made out way in around 100m. Water flows the whole way in a tiny stream and the deeper we got the more humid it was. My camera lens fogged up so I could not take many photos.

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We stopped for a short break and made our return. We were quite quick and only took 4 hours. Jose said we could go somewhere else if I wanted after lunch but i felt pretty tired. Was happy that he offered though. The cost was $150 bolivianos for the 4 hours but we could have gone longer if I wanted. I was happy to get back to wash some clothes and relax a little.. So lazy of me..

Tomorrow I think back to Santa Cruz to wash the rest of my things and plan my next steps. Hopefully it’s warmer there now than a couple of weeks ago.

Up early and I waited outside the hostel for the 7am bus to Robore. I was planning to be waiting until 2:30pm for a bus to Santa Cruz but a woman approached me in the terminal and asked if I was headed to Santa Cruz because there was a small 8 seater van going at 9am. It was the same price as the bus so I jumped at the chance.. The music the driver is playing sucks.. Reminds me of very old music. The Bolivians like their music loud too. I think we ran over a tarantula crossing the road. It was huge. I hope to see one up close.. Who on earth are these white guys in Bolivia who wear super dark blue overalls and a hat with a shirt. I have seen a few around and thought nothing of it. Now we had a guy get in the bus and we went through a town with heaps of them.. I feel too rude to ask. All I know is they seem very straight and don’t seem to smile.. Hmm

Hoping to get to immigration today to get my last 30 days in Bolivia for the year.

Next few days planning and skyping family etc.

Well I’ll leave you to a quote I found really interesting while reading…

“Throughout your life advance daily, becoming more skillful than yesterday, more skillful than today. This is never-ending.” – Yamamoto Tsunetomo. Hagakure, the book of the Samurai.

more to add…. currently waiting in the bus terminal in Santa Cruz waiting for my 9:30pm bus to Trinidad which should arrive around 7am for me to start a new adventure and find my way around.

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