The next few days consisted of city stops, which we will not write too much about, as it has become apparent in our travels that suddenly coming upon big crowds of people seems to scare us and make us all stressed out! Ridiculous, I know!
We took a bus from Uyuni to Potosi and were amazed that the road was paved the whole way…what luck! Andy was determined to visit this place as it is the highest city of it’s size in the world at 4200m. It was quite a cool place, as it was off the beaten track with the only visitors going so that they can have a tour of the mines. Having had friends that have done this previously I was informed not to take part in this excursion due to the cramped conditions and the fact I would probably have a freak out. So for the first time all trip I gave into my fears and we just spent the time there wondering the streets and sorting out onward travel to Sucre.
Sucre was a welcome change from the run-down brick buildings of the other Bolivian cities we had so far seen, as many of the facades are painted white and a lot have cute little courtyards and patios in. We booked into the Casa Verde b&b, due to the luck I have had so far with this name of abode all trip, and were not disappointed. We were shown to our room, which had a window seat looking onto the courtyard and our own upstairs mezzanine area for hanging out! We were so impressed that we decided to have a night in and ordered some Chinese food and a bottle of wine.
There wasn’t much to do in Sucre so we made the most of catching up on some sleep and just chilling out after the pretty tiring first few days in Bolivia. We walked about quite a bit and got a good feel for the place, but were ready to leave on the third day on our night bus to La Paz.
The bus was way posher than any we had encountered in Bolivia and we were looking forward to a good sleep. Once in our seats the driver came along and started putting our bags up on the rack above our heads, being wary of it getting stolen from here, I was worried about doing so so took my time organising my stuff. He was getting a little pushy so after taking our valuables out and placing them in our fanny packs, we put our locked bags above our heads. As the bus set off, Andy decided he needed the loo. An irate Andy returned when he was told “No” by one of the drivers, it appeared that they had locked the toilet. Brilliant, just what you need for an 11 hour journey (thankfully there were stops, although they were in the middle of the night when we were asleep, and for about 3 minutes meaning we had to run to the loos and back while the bus was driving off!).
About an hour in I decided I was going to grab our bags and put them next to us to keep an eye on them, but as I did I saw the guy from the seat behind with his flashlight. It turned out he was doing the same thing, only he couldn’t find his bag!
A thorough search of the bus followed, and in a rage he ran down to the driver. As my Spanish was apparently better it was then left up to me to translate what the driver was saying…basically the guy that originally got on the bus putting our bags up, was not a driver at all! The drivers were loading the luggage into the bus and said they never encourage people to put their bags above them due to theft. So it seemed the guy we presumed worked for the bus, was in fact a thief and somehow made off with the guy’s bag before the journey even began! We felt so awful, as well as very lucky that we had narrowly escaped such a drama, as the poor guy had his laptop and camera in there. Thankfully he had his passport on his person, as that would have been a catastrophe. It left us thinking how easy it is for such things to happen, no matter how cautious you are. We just presumed he worked for the bus company!
I offered to help the Dutch couple with their visit to report the robbery to the police, but luckily the lady at the bus station spoke English so we headed to our hostel. From there we had a wonder around La Paz, which wasn’t all that bad for a capital city and much nicer than we expected. We found an amazing Danish café and settled in there for some yummy brekky and coffee, before sorting some life admin and then catching up with Jane that evening for dinner.
The next morning we rose early to head to the mountain of Chacaltaya, picking Jane up on the way. The drive there was pretty cramped and involved a lot of hair pin bends, but boy was it worth it. We stepped out of the minivan at 5300m and already I could feel the effects of the altitude. A quick toilet stop to officially the worst toilet I have ever seen, and then we began hiking to the summit. It was amazing how little oxygen I could get into my child-size lungs! I have never struggled walking before, but it really was an effort. Andy powered on ahead encouraging us as we went and eventually after half an hour we reached the summit at 5420m. It was truly beautiful. Jane, being an Ozzy, was super excited by the snow and ran down to touch it, while Andy ran off to the next summit.
It was a great day, made even more special by the fact that my dad had been to the exact same spot many years before.
On the way home we stopped at the Parque De Lunar, which was the old river of La Paz, now dried up and resembling sand stone stalactites. It was pretty cool.