On The Go

A lesson in travelling by land in Bolivia: Sure, you can fly from city to city. In some cases, that's the only reasonable way to get from point A to point B. However, as long as you're not headed somewhere too remote you can do it the old fashioned way. You hand somebody a dollar and climb into the back of their truck for a ride. I hitched my way out of La Paz once in the back of the truck you see below.

The police will give you a peculiar look when going through checkpoints as they aren't used to seeing many gringos travelling this way.

Personally, I enjoy hitching in Bolivia. The views are amazing.

The company can be lovely - whether or not you speak Quechua...

....but whatever you do, do not - and I really mean DO NOT NOT N-O-T - DO NOT look down at the road below because sometimes you won't find it. See the rocks starting to roll down as we screech around a corner? What you don't see in this picture is my face turning very very very pale.

...and there's always the risk of being stranded overnight. I got stuck here once when a driver decided he'd gone far enough that day. God only knows where "here" is. This was somewhere between Tarija and Potosi - an 18 hour ride climbing high into the Andes. And by the way - the "hotel" sure does look lovely, doesn't it? I think they had a total of three rooms.

If you're brave enough, maybe you'll take the train instead. The train from Potosi to Sucre is a nice 6 hour ride. Sure, it's faster and easier to go by truck - but if you really want the Bolivian Train experience... that's the one train to take (from Potosi to Sucre). However, THIS is the one that goes from Santa Cruz to Argentina. It is an absolutely brutal trip and I'd probably never do it again. If I were foolish enough to do it again, I'd give up on buying a seat and just ride in a boxcar like everybody else. As you can see, it's a common practice. In a boxcar, on a boxcar.. whatever!

This was a 27 hour trip from Santa Cruz to a border town named Yacuiba - including the 4 hours we were stuck sitting on the tracks in the middle of nowhere due to God only knows what!

Maybe you'd rather go by bus. Frankly, it's the easy way to go. Whenever the bus breaks down, you get the option of wanderring outside to strectch your legs...

I've been on more broken down busses in Bolivia than I can remember. I've seen men banging on all sorts of bus-parts trying to get things moving again... This one breakdown in particular I do recall. It was your basic rockslide/mudslide/avalanche kind of thing. No big deal. Again, you get the option of wanderring outside to stretch your legs - and move a few rocks.

Next page: other Bolivian towns.