Suitcase on wheels     stuck in the snow   sniffer dog

Sunday, October 16, 2005

52. Cochabambing (Cochabamba, Bolivia)

The Spanish of Bolivians is a bit different from that of Argentinians, especially that of Buenos Aires. For one thing, there's the double-l pronunciation. Calle, which means street in Spanish, is pronounced kind of like ka-jsheh in Buenos Aires, but like kal-yeh in Bolivia (and most places Spanish is spoken). So calle or llaves or llamado (street, keys, a call) is often not understood. The same goes for the y pronunciation - ayer (yesterday) is a-sher for Argentines but a-year for Bolivians. Pronunciation aside, there's the occasional vocabulary difference too.
One thing I'm quite chuffed about is I'm always getting compliments on my Spanish speaking. Some Bolivians even think I'm from Argentina, or aren't surprised when I tell them I lived in BA seven months - "ah, so that's where you got your gaucho (cowboy) accent" they tell me.
When I first met up with Gabriel (the Argentinian I travelled with a few days) in a restaurant in Sucre, he told me he was sick of Potosí, especially the people there, that they didn't understand him well. Next thing our waitress turned up at our table with 2 decks of playing cards. We'd asked for la carta which means the menu in Argentinian Spanish, and she'd brought us cartas!

From Sucre we headed on night-only bus to Cochabamba. Fortunately, the bus was a bit late so we arrived at 7am instead of 5am. Since we travelled on a Saturday night we arrived Sunday, when most things were closed. Walking around the streets we spotted a poster for a concert by Texas-based band Kumbia Kings.

Cochabamba - 10 - Kumbia Kings
Poster for the show that night

We both new the name of the band and that they were popular, but not sure if we knew any of their songs. Cumbia is a style of music popular in South America, it's kind of slow and with a South American swing, and a kind of slow whiny singing. I dunno how to describe it, but I don't like it. Some people love it but it has it's niche. But we both had a feeling that the Kumbia Kings weren't a cumbia band, so we went along to check it out.
The first songs were pretty good, kind of hip-hop but they soon started crooning some love songs. Of the entire set we only recognised one of their last songs from the radio. The mostly female crowd loved it, singing along to every song, and all the best looking girls of Cochabamba (pop. 500,000, Bolivia's 3rd largest city) seemed to be out. But we'd found ourselves at a Latin Backstreet Boys concert, and left before the last song.

Cochabamba has a giant Christ the Redemptor looking over it from a nearby hilltop (like the more famous one in Rio de Janeiro) so the next day we took the gondola up the hill to get the view of the city.

Cochabamba - 03 - Matt Redemptor
Get Behind Me Jesus

The giant jesus was actually hollow with lots of square peepholes and you could climb up inside him, which I did.

Cochabamba - 04 - View
Jesus-eye view

Also in town were the contestants for this year's Miss Sudamerica contest, Miss Argentina, Miss Brazil, Miss Venezuela etc. But we didn't know where they actually were and it was only in the local newspapers that we saw any of them.

Cochabamba - 11 - Miss Sudamerica
Miss Colombia, Argentina, Bolivia, Venezuela, Chile, Panama & Ecuador

We only spent 2 nights in Cochabamba before Gabriel and I headed our separate ways. He headed west to the town of Villa Tunari to check out Inti Wara Yassi, a wildlife refuge where you can volunteer to work with the animals. I'd liked to have done it since it's not every day you get the opportunity to work in a zoo in the Amazon, but it was a 15 day minimum and I was already running out of time in Bolivia. The 5 days I spent waiting for my keys in Uyuni (for nothing!) was really starting to piss me off. In fact I'm sure I'll regret not doing the volunteer thing.

Cochabamba - 14 - Plaza oldies
Old boys chillin' out in Cochabamba's main plaza

Meanwhile I headed to La Paz, Bolivia's largest city of 1.5 million. The bus got a flat tyre on the way which wasn't a good omen, so we stopped for 20 mins while they changed the tyre and all the men stood on the side of the road watching, while the ladies waited inside the bus, and the older ladies in traditional Spanish-era skirts and pettycoats and bowler hats squat-pissed nearby. But at least my bus didn't roll, unlike the bus of an Australian lady we'd met in Sucre, who's bus rolled when it got a puncture at speed. She only had a slight black eye but said quite a few were injured, blood on the windows etc. Unfortunately Bolivian bus drivers have a reputation for driving too fast (and too drunk).

La Paz - 02 - Change bus tyre
Pit stop


  • cualquier cliche repetida....

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:15 PM  

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