Though I started out on this trip as an extreme minimalist; living on five dollars a day as I slept every single night in my tent and ate a whole lot of oatmeal and pasta, Kevin and I have decided to take a different approach to this last leg of our journey as we know that financially we are going to make it. We have decided that instead of always sleeping in our tent, we will start staying in hostels more often, and as the food in Bolivia is cheap, we will eat out whenever we please. Basically, we have thrown any notion of a budget out the window in order to fully enjoy our last few countries without restraint.
So what does ten to fifteen dollars a day look like? Right now, it looks like an extremely nice hotel room with wifi and a tv, meals out for every meal, and any fruit, juice, or sweet that catches our eye on the street. Though we stayed in a typical (4$/night) local place during our first night in Oruro, our first big Bolivian city, we ended up switching to an extremely nice place which is twice the price, yet empty, because it looks so fancy I think everyone stays away for fear of how expensive it may be (as we were before asking the price). In reality, it’s only a dollar or two more than most of the not-so-nice local places, and that dollar or two more is totally worth it.
Oruro, where we currently are, is a typical large (200,000 inhabitants) Bolivian city which is bustling with life as every street is filled with markets, vendors, and people. We spent our three days in Oruro eating pineapple slices every time we encountered them, street food such as fried chicken/meat with rice and potatoes and chicken foot soup for every meal, and pieces of cake with more cream on top than cake on bottom for desert multiple times a day.
During our stay we also got to deal with the bureaucratic mess called visas. For some reason at the border we used (which is a small outpost in the middle of nowhere) they would only give us one month, though we are both allowed three. This meant that we needed to extend, which was extremely simple for me as a Canadian, but a five hour long ridiculous process for Kevin simply because he is American. The visa game is absolutely absurd, but we are both lucky to have “first world passports,” as there are so many people in the world who happened to be born in countries where their passports make travel nearly impossible.
Now, we are about to embark on a 10,000m elevation gain route which will take us down and out of the altiplano for the first time since arriving in Bolivia (through the region of the South Yungas) before we climb back up to La Paz. Check back in a few days for a post about how it went!