Bought this bar of "cacao puro" chocolate at a little market in Potosí, and I decided to crack it open this morning, and to give it a try. Most disgusting chocolate I've ever had. I don't think there's much in it, except raw cacao ground into a powder, and lots of rough sugar. Everyone in the group tried it, and found it equally sickening. We couldn't finish it, so we gave the rest of it to our guide. Keep away from traditional Bolivian chocolate!
Chris and I were hoping to catch either the 8pm or the 8:30pm bus this evening, from La Paz to Potosí. But when we got to the bus station, at 6:30pm this evening, the seats on both of these buses were completely sold out. However, they did have two seats left (the last two) for the bus to Sucre, which left — well — immediately, at 6:30pm! So we immediately bought the two final tickets, ran to the bus, whacked our luggage underneath, and jumped on. And that's how we ended up going to Sucre tonight, instead of to Potosí.
For the first time so far on my trip, I went to the cinemas tonight in La Paz, and saw Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (the third and final instalment in the trilogy). Great movie, and an interesting experience going to the cinemas in Bolivia. They're screening movies until 10pm, but the last decent ones are at 7pm. They have numbered, reserved seating; but when you get inside, you can't see the numbers, so you just sit anywhere (then someone comes and moves you). And they turn the movie off as soon as the credits start rolling, so that you get out of there faster. Crazy place.
I was a bit desperate for lunch today, so I wandered into the first local-looking restaurant that I stumbled across. It was a bit late — about 3pm — and when I asked them what they had on offer, they said that all they could give me was Jolke. I had no idea what Jolke was, but I was starving, so I said bring it on. Big mistake. Disgusting brown soup with horrible meat and various spices. Basically looks and tastes like a bowl of $—%#. Try and keep away from it during your next visit to Bolivia.
After only three days in this country, it's already clear: "en Bolivia, no hay" (lit: "in Bolivia, there isn't"). "No hay" is by far the most common answer to all the many questions that I've asked people so far in this country. Dinner? "No hay". Change? "No hay". Internet? "No hay". Buses? "No hay". Cake? "No hay". Anything to drink, other than Paceña beer? "No hay". Welcome to Bolivia, the country where whatever the hell it is you're looking for, it's guaranteed that you won't easily find it. No matter how simple it seems, no matter how likely you'd think it is that they have it, nope: "no hay".
After we finished our guided tour of the Tiwanaku ruins this afternoon, our guide told us that there was one more little section left for us to see, if we wanted to have a look at it. But we had to hurry, because it was 4:30pm, and all the ruins closed at 5pm. So Chris and myself (Pascale elected instead to sit and smoke) went to check them out. However, even at 4:40pm, we were too late — already shut. Closing earlier than advertised is a popular pastime, here in Bolivia.
For our first dinner tonight in La Paz, Chris, Pascale and myself found a great local joint, that gave us soup, juice, and a plate of steak and rice, all for just Bs. 3.50 (about $AUD0.50)! Not bad tasting, either (and we didn't get sick from it, as a further bonus). As Chris said: "I think that this is the cheapest meal I've had. Ever. In my whole life." I can probably say the same for myself. Apart from the weird payment system, it was one hell of a cheap and awesome dinner.
This morning, Chris and I caught a bus from Copacabana to La Paz. But before we could get the bus, we had to buy our tickets. And as with everything in Bolivia, buying bus tickets is a process unlike what you'd expect it to be.
After only one day in Bolivia, I've already met my first two (of many) stark raving mad locals. These two cute little girls from Isla Del Sol demanded chocolate from us numerous times. When we refused, they explained how their parents are dead — "viven en el cielo" (lit: "they live in the sky") — and when we gave them some, they burst into hysterical laughter.