Immediately after returning from Tarabuco in the afternoon, I left Heidi to her Spanish class and started out for my journey to Tupiza, in the very scenic south of Bolivia.
Since I first had to go to Potosi and from there take a night bus to Tupiza, I was in a bit of a rush. It was Sunday, a popular travel day, so I was worried not get a place on the more comfortable “Buscamas” … And for a night ride I did not really feel like taking a “Servicio Economico”, which offers a very Spartan level of comfort!
Since the next bus to Potosi was not leaving within a few hours, I headed towards the “Collectivos”. These taxis leave as soon as they have 4 passengers. The many drivers waiting here fight over each passengers, screaming and pulling them and promising THEY were about to leave and only one passenger missing, you. So I was squeezed into the back seat between 2 Bolivian men not really ready to give up any space.
Let´s look on the positive side. The trip was fast … very fast! Very, very fast!!! On a small mountain road in a terrible state, the driver had no problem taking sharp curves between 80 to 100 kph. Of course, to save fuel he would put the gear stick into neutral as often as he could. Overtaking in curves with no clue of what was in front of him was also common. No, this is not the whole story yet! He was mostly occupied picking through is bag of coca leaves, chewing away to stay awake … But after 2.5 hours, instead of the normal three, we arrived in Potosi in one piece and I was really relieved to get out of that car!
At the bus station, I immediately booked a seat on a “Buscama” and after two hours, we left perfectly on time for Tupiza. Well, that leg of the trip turned out to be even worse! To start with, this very old “Buscama” offered less comfort than a “Semicama”, and it had no heating. Considering that we traveled mostly above 4.000 meters, the bus turned freezing cold after a few hours, with condensation water on the windows partly freezing in the early morning hours.
But the worst was the road: a bumpy dirt road, making me feel like sitting on a machine gun for 7 hours and being thrown from left to right and back and forth every single second. It was simply impossible to sleep! And as if that altogether was not enough, they played loud music ALL night long!!! When we arrived in Tupiza at 03:00 am, I could only think about the fact that I will have to do that stretch again, after joining Heidi back in Potosi in about 10 days.
I immediately checked in at the Hotel Mitru, “Best hotel in town” according to the Lonely Planet. Well, for 50 Bolivianos or 4.8 Euros a night, I have a nice room with private bath, including a great breakfast buffet and a beautiful, solar-heated pool. I am sure I will enjoy Tupiza!