DAY FIFTYTWO – FIFTYSIX
Mainly I wanted to go to Samaipata because the name sounds awesome! So we arrived very early in the morning when it was still completely dark out. Gareth and I were the only ones who got off the bus. The driver opened the first luggage compartment and there was no luggage there. But there was a man lying or sleeping there. Then the driver opened another compartment with all our luggage. It was all covered in dust and I couldn’t possibly tell one apart from another. It made me laugh because it was pitch black outside, next to my luggage was a passed out guy and my bag had never been that dirty my whole trip. OH! And mysteriously Gareth lost one shoe on the bus. Once the bus left we just stood in the dark. We had no clue where to go. No road signs and we didn’t know what street we were on. Fortunately it’s probably the smallest place on planet earth. We walked for twenty minutes until we finally found our hostel. Great hostel with a nice staff, owners are great and they had the best food. Unfortunately the next few days we had sucky weather. Grey and cold.
Day 1: EL FUERTE. We slept a bit after the bus ride, had breakfast and then decided to go to the nearby ruins of El fuerte. We took a taxi up and wanted to hike back because it looked like a really great and fun path to walk. We got there but we didn’t want a guide (too expensive). This way we could walk our own pace and do what we wanted to. The view from up top was so impressive. It’s just a tall hill but you could see over all the other hills and far out into the horizon. we were surrounded by dark green hills and red/ orange/ brown rock surfaces (red/ orange/ brown from the iron or something that makes rocks look those colors). Beautiful color mixture of the landscape. The main attraction of El fuerte is this very large (slim but long) dark rock with carvings in it at the top of the hill. It’s surrounded by scattered other old house ruins and you can just walk around and through them. I experimented with my camera, Gareth experimented with my camera and we just walked and talked. Right when we were finished and wanted to walk down it started pouring. It was very upsetting then we were really looking forward to walking down that muddy, adventurous road. But then later that day we got to walk in the rain to this café/ hostel/ travel agency further out. we were completely soaked and the roads got very muddy and slippery. The owner was very surprised to see us in this weather. We booked our following trip to Amboró National Park. When we returned to our hostel we ate a great….no great doesn’t do it…we ate an indescribable amazingly great mexican dish. It was so awesome we felt we needed to eat as much as possible so we ordered a second round.
Day 2: LAS CASCADES DE LAS CUEVAS Y ZOOLóGICO. One of those first words with “C” means waterfall (cascades). Day two we went to see waterfalls. The rain had stopped and it was a semi-beautiful day. To get to the falls you enter this gate and you immediately get the feeling of walking through paradise or a nicely kept english garden. Everything was very well groomed unlike anything else in Bolivia. After a few minutes of walking we reached this beautiful but very small waterfall with three streams. We were told that we would see 3 waterfalls and for a second we thought this was the whole attraction. But of course the path kept going on and suddenly we were standing over this big waterfall looking over the edge of it. We kept on walking and found waterfall No. 3. It was a great place because you are able to walk around freely standing under it if you like or over it or next to it, in front of it… wherever you like. We were so glad we did this little trip and would recommend it! Our hostel owner mentioned the zoológico where you can pet monkeys. And whenever I hear, see or read the word monkey it is clear to me that I will have to see that place! After our trip to the falls we went to the animal refuge where they take different animals who were sold on the black market and treated badly. It’s a very cute little zoo with a variety of different monkeys, parrots, pigs, horses, wildcat, dogs, etc. Immediately I had this little monkey climbing into my hood wrapping his tail around my neck. We got a short tour of the whole zoo and the monkey never left my hood. I absolutely loved it! I love animals and anytime I get to be close to them and even pet them is always my best experience! Later on Kiki, a different monkey, also climbed up on my shoulder. It was so great and such a nice place. You can really tell they love the animals and take good care of them. I also fell in love with the St. Bernard dog. He was so big, fuzzy and cute! I wanted to take the animals home with me but fortunately they already have a good home. We walked home in the dark and weren’t quite sure where to go. But once again we managed in the dark. Later we went to a bar ( also the only bar) and it was the first time we saw other white people in Samaipata.
Day 3: PARQUE NACIONAL AMBORó. Our guide picked us up at our hostel and we drove to Amboró. Our guide was a cute little bolivian man who only spoke spanish. He knew absolutely everything about the park. He was nice and very chatty telling us all kinds of things. The park looked like hills covered in dark green broccoli trees. We parked the car then started walking through the forest. It was a narrow path surrounded by tall fern trees. The stem looked like a palm tree with huge fern leaves. The trees were hundreds of years old. On our way we saw birds, cows (weird) and a funky-looking caterpillar. It was sort of like a jungle experience I was hoping for in Rurre: Walking through trees with no exact path pushing away branches and leaves. All you could see was forest. After a while we got to a point outside the dense forest where we could see everything for miles. We were surrounded by greenery. It was incredible how different the landscape was down there from the rest of Bolivia. After a few hours of walking we had lunch with of course another amazing view. We continued walking for a few hours more in the forest, next to the forest and even passing a lagoon. It was just great because no one else was there. Not a single other tourist group crossed our path. We just enjoyed the nature to it’s fullest. On our way home we did see two hunters. They passed us on the too skinny path on their motorcycles with their guns on their backs.
Day 4 & 5: RUTA DEL CHé. It was cold out and I was freezing the whole day. We drove to Vallegrande stopping once or twice for a nice view. In Vallegrande we went to a Ché museum where we failed to get a tour and read everything ourselves. We drove to different places where different revolutionary men and women were burried. Our translator failed and we couldn’t enjoy it very much because we paid a lot and it was freezing. We were expecting to learn about Ché, which is why we wanted an english guide. We didn’t get what was promised, which was frustrating and kind of ruined our tour because we spent so much time upsetting about the guides. We ate lunch at this strange looking “chinese” place, which ended up being the reason for me getting sick. After lunch we drove to La Higuera where Ché was shot. The hostel however was great. It’s run by this french couple. They were so nice and made the whole trip better. La Higuera is made up of about ten houses. We walked to see statues of Ché and stood in the school where he was shot. That gave me a strange feeling. We met this cute old man who had once played guitar with Ché. We spent the evening at the hostel, had some wine, played scrabble and watched a documentary on Ché Guevara. We learned most things from the film, which was really interesting. He was a great person, fascinating and inspiring! It was so interesting learning about him and staying at the place he spent his last hours. The night was cold and I spent it being sick. The next day we drove back to Samaipata and of course, our last day, it was beautiful out. Blue sky, no clouds and warm. We weren’t too happy about our tour but I can’t say I regret it.
Back in Samaipata we packed our stuff and got a Taxi to Santa Cruz de la Sierra. With us in the cab was a quite interesting Austrian. A few weeks before he fell and cracked his head and he was in a coma for a week. He lost several words out of his vocabulary. Now slowly everything is coming back to him. He bought a house and land in Samaipata for 19’000€ and lives there and seems to be very happy about it. The drive to Santa Cruz was incredible. we drove so close to the red rocks (mentioned earlier) of the hills. So beautiful! Santa Cruz is big and very busy. Store after store lined up next to each other. So many clothes and shoes! We went out for drinks and food and met an english couple Gareth had already met once in La Paz. Earlier that day they had seen a sloth on the plaza and I immediately made that my next mission: to find the sloth!