25 October 2007

Day One in Bolivia

I left Miami International at 11pm on Friday, October 5th. I flew into La Paz six hours later with little sleep. While waiting for my connection to Santa Cruz I had the privilege of watching the sun peak over the mountains. My first day in Bolivia was beautiful and I wasn't even out of the airplane. Once on land, I quickly went through customs and picked up my gear. Rupp met me outside and we exited to the closest micro. Micros are like large vans or small buses. They are cheap and sometimes even comfortable. We scrambled into the hot and dusty city and immediately found lunch at a salteñas shop. Salteñas are like a sweet pastry turnover filled with beef, chicken, peas, potatoes, and boiled eggs. They are juicy and savory and surprisingly delicious.

After lunch we found a place to stay at the Hotel Milan. This would be our stopping point every time we came through the city. It was love at first sight with fans, AC, and plenty of space. We especially enjoyed the 80's videos that played on VH1 late at night. And their beds are very comfortable, though you wouldn't expect it since they are housed in concrete frames. Our hotel was on the same road as the main plaza below. On Sunday morning before leaving the city we stopped by a market behind the church and I had my first cuñapes and alfahors. The latter of those would become my new favorite dessert in Bolivia.

Before departing the city I had to change my US cash over to Bolivianos. This proved to be a little hard considering we waited too long and the money exchange was closed. Off we went across the plaza and found a street changer. After much deliberation we exchanged my money and when we arrived back at the hotel we realized we had been ripped off 200 Bs. To the rescue, Rupp went back out there and demanded our money. You should have seen the gringa arguing her money back from a group of men. It could be the fact that she was causing a bit of a scene or maybe the fact that she was calling them all lairs but nonetheless, we walked off with all of our money. It was then that I knew this would be a grand adventure.

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