Arriving in Bolivia was a shock. A beat up taxi, with a cracked windscreen and seats falling off (odometer was at 550k), picked us up to take us to the hostel. We drove along the dusty, sandy roads. Everything was old and dirty looking. A car was on fire on the side of the road. The standards had definitely dropped from the rest of South America. However, the hostel was quite nice and had a swimming pool. Our first night we went to a fancy Chinese restaurant for dinner and had a meal similar to a nice Chinese place at home, but it only cost us around $30 total.
It was also about this time that Ben realised his credit card had stopped working. Checking his bank account he realised his credit card had been skimmed and had been withdrawn to its limit. There were a series of cash withdrawals from Sao Paulo ATMs that Ben never took out. A total of $6,000 had been taken.
We arrived for Easter weekend, which meant a lot of places were closed. Our first day we wandered around the town and got a feel for the place. Initially, it felt quite unsafe there, but it didn’t seem too bad the more time we spent there. We had a look at the square and brought some blankets and a pancho from a local market. We also got some Easter eggs for Easter Sunday.
It turned out that there was a kiwi restaurant in town. We took a cab there, but it was closed. So we went to the next place we found. It was a nice looking cafe. We sat down and the couple next to us started talking to us. They were working in Santa Cruz and were from Scotland. They didn’t get many English speaking people to talk to, so they were excited to talk to us. They also offered to help however they could when we told them about the credit card fraud. They left us with their business card and we parted ways.
The next day we went to a resort with an attached wilderness park. We went in a butterfly dome, a bird cage, a tortoise enclosure and natural pools. The pools were really nice and were all fresh water. We stayed there for the day and got mildly sunburnt.
We only stayed two nights, so soon enough it was time to leave and fly to Sucre. We booked a flight with the military airline of Bolivia. They have similar planes to a normal airline, but they are all very old. We were a little bit nervous about flying within Bolivia, but from what we have hear the bus ride is horrendous. The flight only cost $50NZD and sounded much better than a 15 hour bus ride with no toilet stops and on unpaved roads. The plane was dodgy looking, with scratchy paint and insulation hanging out from the ceiling. Thankfully, made it there in one piece.