Cochabamba - big trip - diary - bolivia - may 2003

Cochabamba is...

...a colourful place...

...with the usual colonial bits

Monday 12 - Friday 16 May

Although over 2500m in altitude, Cochabamba has a pleasant climate and a friendly population but, apart from checking out the usual colonial buildings, there's not much to do on a week day. This was no problem for B as he had to spend three days in bed with a fever and bad stomach. Meanwhile T checked out a strange looking Volvo 4x4 thing parked on the street near the hotel. Turned out the owner, Franz, is a 4x4 fan and a bit of an adventurer who knows these parts of Bolivia as well as anybody.

Intrepid Volvo explorers

View with Illimani in the distance

The valley on the other side

Volvo handles 'tough' terrain

As the sun sets its...

...time to check out the Inca treasure

When B was fit enough to get up, a couple of days later, we went for a spin in the Volvo with Franz and his Indiana Jones style co-adventurer. Climbing up to Cerro Tunari we reached almost 5000m and had a breathtaking view of the Cordillera Real near La Paz with the 6439m Illimani clearly visible. The Volvo runs on 900x16 tyres and is about the size of a landy but a fair bit uglier and a lot more uncomfortable. Its not really very wicked off road but the small petrol engine did well dragging us up the mountainside and an LPG system is used on the flat.

Franz and his mates go deep into the virgin jungle every year looking for Inca artifacts. They get dropped off by helicopter at the limit of its range and then spend a few weeks searching for stuff, hunting game for food, avoiding drug trafficers and the odd hostile tribe. With plenty of very interesting stories to tell and abundant material evidence these guys are the real Indiana Joneses. We hope to come back and join them next year.

Click to see the real lunar eclipse above the eclipse bar

Post eclipse festiviites

It seems there is a national obsession with playing a poker-type dice game in Bolivia. Its played by all age groups night and day, in bars, resturants and in the streets. It dosn't look very exciting and we nearly had to play once with Franz and Indy Jones but luckily lunch arrived and interrupted proceedings after the first throw. The lunch was much more interesting, a traditional dish with dried llama meat, giant corn, boiled egg and potatoes.

Crispy things

Main plaza

More crispy things

Friday evening we went out to eat and managed to get a perfect view of the total lunar eclipse, right above the roof of the appropriately named Eclipse bar. After sampling the nightlife we thought we'd better get to La Paz for Saturday night as its bound to be better!

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