On the way to the bus station of La Paz, before our trip to Cochabamba, I jokingly remarked to Jürgen, “Hope the good folks of El Alto aren’t striking today”. Am I stupid? Why would I tempt fate like that?! Of course they were striking.
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!
A neighborhood in El Alto had set up a roadblock to demand the government’s attention to a silly little situation. Pffh. Listen to this: these jerks were demanding working sewage and clean drinking water, after three years of not having either. That’s worth blocking a road over? Who do these people think they are?!
Okay, okay, so it’s an excellent reason for blocking a road. Totally understandable. The problem that La Paz faces is that the desperately poor and historically neglected residents of El Alto have many excellent reasons to throw up roadblocks. And they do so with terrible frequency.
Though we were late, we made it to Cochabamba in one piece and fairly rested. We could hardly wait to get out and explore one of Bolivia’s biggest cities. Although it enjoys the country’s most pleasant climate and an advantageous position near a lot of amazing nature, most tourists skip Cochabamba. We would have two weeks to see if there was a reason for that.