The charming village of Tarata makes a perfect day trip from Cochabamba. It's a quick 45-minute trip in a minibus, which costs just five Bolivianos, or about $0.70. Only about 8000 people live in Tarata, but this town boasts a disproportionate amount of importance in Bolivia's history.
Cochabamba is perhaps most well-known around the world for its water protests of 2000, which shut down the city for days. The "Water Wars" pitted farmers and the working poor against a government-backed multinational consortium, who had taken control of the city's water supply. Cochabamba's struggle was unusually successful, and has become an inspiration for those who rail against against corporate greed and injustice.
Eating in Bolivia has been a real test of intestinal fortitude. We've had a lot of incredible dishes, but our stomachs are unused to the style of food. Here are three other dishes which we've battled through during our time here
Cochabamba, with its wide streets and western-style restaurants, feels like a city awash in money. Although that's not the case at all, at least one spot in town does exude wealth and genteel living: the palace of Simon I. Patiño, alternately known as the Tin Baron, or The Andean Rockefeller.
After a restless night, Jürgen and I were back in the main plaza at 7am of Saturday, July 16th, watching cholitas in glittering dresses and politely declining offers of cerveza from marching band members who clearly hadn't stopped imbibing all night. The party had never paused -- of this, I'm sure. I had laid in bed, eyes wide open, listening to it rage the entire night.
When we were invited by the Castellón family of Cochabamba to attend a festival in Independencia as their guests, we didn't hesitate to accept. Independencia is a small, remote mountain village of just over two thousand people, and the festival sounded like a blast. The whole town and every neighboring community would be turning out for four days of partying. How could we say no?
Completed in 1994 to commemorate the 1988 visit of Pope John Paul II, Cochabamba's mighty Christ towers over the city from the top of San Pedro hill. With his arms open toward the city, it seems as though Cochabamba is about to get a bear hug from the big guy. Rio's Jesus measures exactly 33 meters in height: one meter for each year of the savior's life. Cochabamba's is 33 meters and 20 centimeters, which locals attribute to the fact that Jesus lived for 33 years and a bit.
Cochabamba lays in the middle of Bolivia, both in terms of latitude and altitude. The biggest city of the country's extensive valley range, it boasts Bolivia's best climate and is known as its "breadbasket". Surrounded by mountains and in easy reach of national parks and the jungle, there are plenty of things to see. All of which makes the lack of tourism in Cochabamba nothing less than astounding.
We learned about the roadblock at 9am, just after arriving at the terminal. Our bus might leave at noon. At 1pm, we were told that 3pm could be the new departure time. At 5pm, we traded in our tickets for a night bus leaving at 9. And around 11pm, we finally got on the road to Cochabamba. A fourteen-hour delay: in terms of Bolivian strikes, we actually got pretty lucky!
Random festivals, cholitas with hats balanced crookedly on their heads, crazy graffiti, mountain views, pigeons and lines of mini-buses and trufis... around every corner in La Paz are another hundred photos waiting to be snapped! Enjoy this final set of random images from Bolivia's most important city.