4/19/10: Tupiza, Bolivia
Dad, in all my years growing up you had me convinced you were irreplaceable. You were quite wrong. Today I found out a BOB is worth about 14 cents. Zhou and I bought 360 of them!
Ok, bad joke to start off this post. (Fortunately if you’re still reading this blog after 7.5 months I know you’re willing to put up with my bad jokes.) A BOB here is a Bolivian Boliviano – it was my way of saying, “Hey world, we’re in Bolivia!”
Getting to Bolivia wasn’t easy though. We took back-to-back overnight buses and spent over nine hours in a bus station eating greasy pizza, fries and empanadas. We arrived at the border town this morning at 6am, only to find out Argentinian immigration didn’t open until 7am. Then, during our 5 minute walk from Argentina to Bolivia we lost an hour and had to wait until Bolivia’s 7am to enter the country. We spent the time huddled in the cold with a row of other backpackers. Little did they realize that they had it easy.
At 7am, one-by-one they all got their passports stamped quickly, efficiently and at no charge. We, the only two Americans in the group, had to fill out several forms, fork over $140 each and wait at the window for nearly 30 minutes. I know we’ve had several large reciprocity fees (come on Obama, do something about this!), but they never get any easier to swallow.
Now we’re safely three hours inside the Bolivian border though, so I’m sure you want to know what our first impressions are. You don’t? Too bad.
[Pertinent side note: I recently spent some time reading my old posts and realized how much more I used to use ridiculous metaphors. John Grisham may suggest my writing has progressed past that stage (his early novels had more cliches than monkeys in a barrel). Me, I think I’m just getting lazy.]
- Buses here remind me a little of Nepal. They are more colorful than Ozzie Guillen’s language after a loss (or a win) and they play local music louder than the applause for a home run at a Marlins game (yes, I know that’s not very loud).
- Today’s bus ride included a man up front dancing hand puppets to the music. One puppet had an animal on the tip of each finger, and the other was a llama wearing a Santa hat and purple parachute pants. Indeed, our first bus ride in Bolivia was stranger than a random guy named Curtis that’s offering you candy in a dark alley.
- The scenery here harkened me back to the Great Rift Valley in Kenya, combined with the dustiness of everywhere in Tanzania. Soaking in the landscapes of Africa made me more tired than an overworked employee in a Goodyear factory, simply because it’s so incredibly foreign to anything I’d ever seen. The same thing happened today.
- Tupiza is how we envisioned the Wild West to be, perhaps because this is where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid died in real life (sorry for the spoiler Zhou, since you’ve never seen the movie). The possibility for a metaphor here is lower than a limbo bar on an ant farm, assuming ants enjoy the limbo every now and then.
- The biggest downside of Bolivia thus far has been the air. Not only is the oxygen thinner than the ham coming out of Kramer’s meat slicer, but the air is drier than the drought of Cleveland sports championships and something has made Zhou sneeze more than she does when sniffing pepper while she has the flu.
Picture of the Day: If I were a piece of laundry, this would be a pretty cool spot to hang out and dry for a day.