4/29/10: Copacabana, Bolivia
[Editor’s Note: I apologize in advance.]
La Paz was nice enough, but there was a Siren’s song of sorts pulling us away from Bolivia’s capital. It started off faint as an old lady standing in the heat, but gradually grew louder… “At the Copa, Copacabana…” (Side note: growing up I always thought the Sirens were women, but this was definitely not a female voice.) As soon as we decided that we had to ditch La Paz last night, we booked two tickets for the 7am bus this morning. The reasons for such an early start were actually two-fold:
- Music and passion were always the fashion at the Copa, Copacabana
- Rumors of a blockade preventing buses out of La Paz were running rampant
Sound familiar? (The second reason, at least. Although I suppose the first line sounds familiar as well.) The bus we wanted actually leaves at 8am on most mornings, so we were expecting a prompt 7am pickup to beat the blockade. Nope. A. Nopacabana! (Oooh, this will never get old!) The bus came limping in at 7:30, all dirty and beaten up, almost as if it had just squared off with Bugs Meany while Encyclopedia Brown was using the restroom. Five minutes into our ride the driver realized this, and we immediately switched to a much more colorful, although not much more comfortable, bus.
Zhou and I immediately fell asleep on this new bus, and I’m pretty sure I dreamed of us sitting in the Vatican next to the new Popa, Popacabana! (Or maybe I didn’t, but wanted a rhyme here.) I awoke just after nine, with La Paz still clearly in view and the new bus rumbling along bumpy side roads. What in the world? Then I saw a line of other trucks and buses and realized what was going on: the locals had created a blockade and there was no way out of the city.
At each bridge we came to there were a bunch of angry La Pazians surrounding a tire burning in the middle of the road. Each and every vehicle hoping that this was the escape simply turned around to try the next road. After more and more failures, it appeared that we had lost all hopa, hopacabana! Dreams of music and passion began to fade, and I awoke Zhou so together we could mopa, mopacabana! But just as it appeared that we were at the end of our ropa, ropacabana! we found an opening. A line of buses passed through it faster than Taco Bell passes through the stomach. Fast forward three hours, and we had made it!
First story from Copacabana: this afternoon I had my first official argument in Spanish! We had our laundry done for 10 BOBs per kilo, and when I went to pick it up, the guy wanted to charge us 15 BOBs per kilo. He said since they did it in three hours that we had to pay extra, only he hadn’t told us before. It was actually a bit of a light-hearted argument, with me taking several minutes to construct each sentence in my head:
Ok, I want to say, ‘but you didn’t tell us it was extra to do it in three hours.’ The problem is, I don’t know how to say but, tell, extra, or do. So let me see. I can start with ‘no habla’ and then ooh! I can say ‘mas’ and, ok I got the whole thing now. Here goes. “No habla mas Bolivianos para tres horas.”
He then came back with a reply that I didn’t understand, so after another minute’s thought, I whipped out my best line of the conversation. “Yo redondo manana y comprar.” This was supposed to mean I’ll come back tomorrow and pay then. Only I know ‘comprar’ means ‘buy’ and I’m really not sure what ‘redondo’ means. I’d actually used it twice earlier in the day at internet cafes and people seemed to understand, so I thought I’d whip it out again. Can anyone who actually speaks Spanish tell me if this is correct? Anyway, the point is that I enjoyed that line, even though the guy responded that the laundry was already done. So we ended up agreeing to meet in the middle – I’d pay 50 BOBs instead of 40 or 60. We actually had a laugh about it at the end, and I feel safe going to sleep tonight. And you can rest assured that I’ll be dreaming of Barry Manilow.
Picture of the Day: In this tiny town sits one of the most ornate churches I’ve ever seen. But we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, so you’ll have to settle for this shot.