Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Wild West of Tupiza

We arrived in La Quiaca pretty early in the morning and it absolutely sucked. I drank so much water on the bus to help with the adjustment to the high altitude, so I had to pee like every hour on the bus. In other words, I didn´t sleep at all. The town was quite small as evidence by the small bus station, but I didn´t really feel like doing anything other than sleep. We put on our backpacks, started walking, and instantly felt a difference in the air. We were both out of breath after just walking for a couple minutes. We decided to stay a night in the little town in order to avoid overexertion, but who am I kidding, I just wanted to sleep. It ended up being a good day because we saw two movies in English in our little room and ate at an excellent local restaurant located right next to the hostal.

Crossing the border to Bolivia was probably the most annoying border crossing ever…for US citizens. I read online that US citizens had to pay $135 per visa in US dollar only. We were told we could exchange in La Quiaca before crossing…not true.
We went to the border anyway to try our luck. They wouldn´t accept Argentinian peso or Boliviano. I threw my fist in the air and said, “why.” They ended up allowing us to cross illegally to Villazon, Bolivia in order to exchange our money. This would have been amazing if it weren´t for the horrible exchange rates. After an two hours of trying to find better exchange rates, ATM´s, and get a copy of our passport, we finally got our ridiculously expensive Bolivian visas.
We immediately purchased bus tickets to Tupiza and went to eat at a local restaurtant. We went in and asked for a carte (menu). She said there were no menus and listed off about two things they were making for that day. Sounded good to us and it was.
After only three hours on the bus we made it to Tupiza which looked like a town from the wild west. Supposedly, Butch Cassidy and Sundance were killed by the Bolivian army near this town. It was really quite cute, so we decided to splurge on a private room and bathroom and stay for a couple days.
The next day we walked around the town, relaxed in our room, and a came across our first experience with carnival. I won´t say too much because our best carnival experience will be written in the La Paz, Bolivia blog, but it involves a million water guns, some sort of soap spray can, masks, and parades.
We decided to go horse back riding the next day and explore more of the wild wild west properly. I really felt like it could have been the late 1800′s until I looked at Bryan with our huge Nikon camera. We saw some cool rock formations, did a bit of galloping, and met some cool people, including an Irish guy who had never been on a horse before. He did surprisingly well when we all started galloping.
After two hours on the horse, our butts and upper thighs were really starting to hurt and we were all thankful we didn’t have to ride across country. We then went to lunch and later dinner with our new Irish friend and then went to bed early in order to prepare ourselves for our three night four day jeep tour to Salar de Uyuni. This was really fun, tiring, and I had the opportunity to squat pee several times a day along the lonesome roads of Bolivia.
P.S. We probably won’t be able to post anymore pictures as we are so behind and the internet is pretty crappy everywhere we’ve been so far. sorry.

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