Hope all good back home.
Last time we wrote it was to the strains (in more ways than one) of Coroico´s various brass marching bands tuning up for the Virgen del Carmen festival on 16th July. It wasn´t quite the sun-drenched affair we´d hoped as it stayed pretty cold and drizzly, but the locals´ spirits weren´t dampened and the bands played valiantly on, accompanying candlelight processions from assorted associations (eg. firefighters) and the residents of various streets of the town, each with their own banners. Interesting to see, if a little chilly.
Our planned few days relaxing by the pool were thwarted by some rather unfriendly-looking and persistent rainclouds. We wouldn´t have known we had an amazing valley view from our room if we hadn´t glimpsed it fleetingly in the gorgeous sunshine the first day we arrived...sadly, confidently thinking that we had three glorious days ahead of us, we didn´t take any snaps to show you the pretty special mountain view.
So we spent a few lazy days in sleepy Coroico and then headed back to La Paz on 17th July (we had to backtrack to La Paz to get to our next destination). On the journey back up we re-traced the route that Roland had sped down on his bike - now snow-covered in parts and with terrible visibility...and probably earning its moniker as world´s most dangerous road.
Visited the coca museum in La Paz in the afternoon, bit rough around the edges but quite interesting to learn about the huge role coca has played, and continues to, in the local culture. Made the most of the relative luxury of our new hotel - HOT showers, hurrah! - and after a nice Bolivian style Japanese meal (!) and a couple of Saturday night drinks in quite a cool bar (didn´t feel we were quite dressed the part in hoodies and woolly hats), we then hit the road again on the morning of the 18th July for an 8-hour bus ride to Cochabamba.
We spent a pleasant few days in Cochabamba - it´s a pretty big city (which we realised when we saw it from on high) but doesn´t feel it when wandering around down at ground level. It was lovely to be warm (finally!) and there were lots of attractive plazas to read our books, visit the sprawling markets and generally chill out in.
Not much in the way of actual sight-seeing to do in Cochabamba, we really just wanted a stopping off point to break up the journey to our next destination. But we did take the cable car up to pay a visit to the enormous Jesus statue that looks over the city - apparently a little taller than the one in Rio but uncannily similar looking.
Cochabamba is known within Bolivia for its cuisine so we duly obliged. Loved the almuerzo lunches - just over a pound for 4 courses! We also had our best meal in Bolivia so far at a great steak place (even there, the really tasty steak was about three pounds) and enjoyed a good bottle of Bolivian red wine - we´re warming up for Argentina.
Took our first overnight bus journey to Santa Cruz (blaring Garfield movie, heater turned up to ´tropical´setting, loo only unlocked at certain arbitrary times, screaming newborn, 2 hour wait at army checkpoint...) Next time we´re definitely flying!
Ta ta for now.
Helene and Roland xx