Staying in a loud hostel ful of rowdy Israelis that don´t appear to need sleep and horseback riding for 5 hours has left me quite exhausted! I wrote this letter to my family and I decided it said everything I had the energy to express so I´m posting it here. Forgive my laziness, the Bolivian altitude must be getting to me!
We arrived in Bolivia yesterday after crossing the border from La Quica, AR to Villazon, Bolivia. Customs and crossing the border was easy for everyone we are traveling with (Irish, English, Australian, Canadian, Uruguayan, Polish...), but not for us! Bolivia does not like Americans very much so we had to pay a hefty $130 USD and show tons of paperwork, give them photos of ourselves, etc. It was quite the adventure into Bolivian bureaucracy! We succesfully crossed the border and quickly got out of Villazon, a very unattractive border town. The bus ride was quite bumpy as only 5% of Bolivia´s roads are paved. We arrived in Tupiza, an old western kind of town with lots of horses and red rocks. Everything is much, much cheaper here which is quite a relief after the inflated prices in Argentina. We went on a five hour horseback tour today for about $15 USD each and we got to wear real leather gaucho hats! my horse was quite possibly the slowest horse in Bolivia, making the ride quite relaxing. It is possible that my horse, Callablanca, only spoke Spanish, which might explain why my commands were heard in vain. Although I´m pretty sure a kick in the sides means go universally! We have decided to break off from our travel group as groups are much more complicated to travel with and we are moving fairly quickly in order to reach Colombia by June. We haggled (en español!) to get a low price on a 4 day tour to the salt flats in Uyuni. They are the highest in the world. Along the way we will see flamingos, red and green lagoons, geysers, two volcanos, a hotel made entirely of salt (yum!), and llamas! I am very excited!! I have eaten one llama empanada, however, I decided based upon my favorite childhood book, "Llama, Are You my Mama", that I will not indulge in any more llama products with the exception of sweaters and other knit goods. I did however drink a licauado witrh my dinner tonight, a mix of milk and fruit that is very popular here and very delicious! Our route from Uyuni will be to Sucre then Potosi then to La Paz only to catch the bus to Cococabana where we will stay on Isla del Sol on Lake Titicaca before crossing into Peru and climbing Machu Picchu! Sorry for the long rambling e-mail, I am missing speaking English after only speaking Spanish to everyone but Ben! We are having a wonderful time and I am learning a lot about life in these countries and about myself. Some days are hard but I already have such a different perspective and I learn so much everyday, it is incredible. You would hardly recognize me!