Today, after a 22 hours bus ride I was sitting with my sore ankles in a Bolivian restaurant in the town Villazón, just across the boarder of Argentina. They only served chicken, rice and french fries so I had eaten chicken, rice and french fries. I was concerned I had to search for long to find a clean looking restaurant, not because Bolivia is known for being unhygienic, but because I know count as a “fortunate city girl from Buenos Aires” with a stomach sensitive to new bacteria.
Anyway: THIS meal is one of the best I’ve ever had! This meal after the long journey really boosted my travel happiness, and I now think there is a secret Bolivian master chicken chef living in Villazon.
I sat at the restaurant looking at the beautiful Bolivian people wondering around. What first that stroke me is the costume looking ladies –ALL looking the same *- in their traditional dresses and the funny bowler hat (!). Somewhere I once read about peoples fascination of that still so popular Bowler hat worn here, though it’s said it came from Europe in the 1920’s.
After some days and costume studying now, I think the style of the Bolivians really is magnificent. If it wasn’t for all my traveling this time, Id go bananas shopping art crafts, colorful knitted scarf’s, skirts and big woolen beautiful capes… Ill post more pictures of this very soon.
At the bus I got a new friend, Federico from Cochabamba. He was looking forward to going home for Christmas, not having seen his family in 8 months. The fact that he travels all the way from Buenos Aires to the boarder, for then getting on yet another bus to go to Cochabamba for a short Christmas holiday with his family, is impressive. Because the infrastructure for bussing here is so so.. You would maybe not be surprised, but the buses they use for traveling inside of Bolivia (and even from Argentinean cities to Bolivia) are way less comfortable then the massive 5 star things you get in Argentina. Federico was young, and had several siblings and told he looked most forward to see how the kids have grown up. His two sisters had three kids each. I enjoyed talking to him, and understood life is a bit tough for construction workers in Buenos Aires. They are mostly from the poorest countries around and work much more hours per day than they should.
“Fede” was not complaining though, he liked the city and the money, and the Mate (hah!) but always saw Bolivia as his dream country to live in one day due to his family living here. Around us in the overly crowded bus where other Bolivian families, kids slept in the ale between the seats and grandmothers slept with chubby kids on their laps. One thing I’ve noticed so far, is how Bolivian men aren’t staring at women like they do in Argentina… Really. It’s a big change, and actually, I don’t even think people are noticing my giraffe height!
And oh, I LOOOOVE the kids. Isn’t it typical? As soon as we see kids in another continent or of colour, we find them so exotic.. Yet, I love kids back home too, just that here they’re so visible. They’re everywhere with their shining narrow black eyes over chubby red chins.. And they love sticking their nose up to my camera.
Now I’ll try to find the bus station and get my ticket to Potosí, the place Ill do my first over night stay, and yeay it’s the worlds tallest city (over 4000 meters). That’ll be fun!
Comment on fashion above: *Making me think again how interesting “fashion” is, WHEREVER you go. I mean, walking around the streets of Oslo you’d also find people looking quite the same, regarding to dressing after what’s said to be “fashionable”.
Just a thought.