Carnaval Act II: Oruro-Tarija-La Paz

After Oruro, the roadtrip.

Oruro to Potosí (Saturday)

Making it from Oruro to Tarija in the one evening was wishful thinking. We get halfway, pulling into Potosi, a little before midnight. It’s Saturday night, but there’s no party and we can’t even get a local beer – so it’s a can of Paceña, then to bed.

We stayed at Casa Blanca near the central plaza.
We stayed at Casa Blanca near the central plaza.

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Potosí to … Tupiza? (Sunday)

A beautiful, sunny day. Grab a coffee at the central market, then a pork sandwich from a street-side stall in the main plaza. That’s what I call breakfast.

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My travel companions don’t think much of it, but Potosí is a beautiful, colonial city. You appreciate it more as you leave – you’ll see what I mean.

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1.50pm. We reach a toll booth and tell we’re headed for Tarija. Tupiza? No, Tarija. Tupiza? Ta-ri-ja.

Wrong way, kiddos. Apparently we’ve missed the turn by 3 hours.

Here’s the alternative route we had to take. We don’t get to Tarija for another 5 hours.

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Tarija Day 1 (Monday)

Just a couple of images taken in the car on the way to carnaval celebrations in the pueblos.

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Lots of water bombs, water guns and foam. I get soaked through – partly thanks to my friend who goes around shouting, ¡Mójenla a la chinita! (“Drench the Asian girl!”). Definitely a good idea not bringing my camera along.

All you really need to know is we also eat more pork and drink beer. And some local wine.

Then there is ridiculous traffic getting back into Tarija in the afternoon – what was a 10-minute drive the previous day takes us about 3 hours.

Water, dancing and much drunkenness to be found in every plaza of the city. Tickets to the most lucrative party in town sold out, so it’s nasty fast food and early to bed.

Tarija Day 2 (Tuesday)

Tuesday of carnaval is traditionally the day for cha’lla in Bolivia. People “bless” their houses, shops, cars by decorating them with flowers and streamers. Water-throwing continues.

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We head to the lovely Casa Vieja for lunch with a view and a wine degustation (disappointing).

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Casa Vieja.
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Picante de lengua (cow tongue) for lunch. Not bad.
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The view out over the Casa Vieja vineyards from the restaurant terrace.
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7 types of wine, and the estate’s singhani (a fruity Bolivian spirit). It’s pretty ordinary, but we buy a couple of bottles anyway.

Then to Heredad de Jacob, a nature spot highly recommended to us. At this point, the weather decides to turn and it’s wanting to rain as we drive in. There are a couple of families chatting over lunch, but not much else going on.

The owner comes out to meet us and tells us we should have come on the day before, when they were running tourist activities like preparing humintas from scratch. Seeing we’ve made the effort to come out all the way, he treats us to some tarijeño crepes and a taste of wine and fresh grapes from their estate. I’d love to come back.

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So then it’s Adios, Tarija. We buy supplies for a picnic on the way and look forward to living it up in Potosí that night.

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We never make it.

A detour sends us by Villa Abecia and in Villa Abecia we stay.
Partly thanks to this DJ.
Oh we’ll just have some food, dance a while and continue on our way.
But here we are in Villa Abecia and in Villa Abecia we stay.

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Gonna dance all night to this DJ, dance all night to this DJ … Well, until 11pm, when he packs up and leaves.

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Villa Abecia to La Paz (Ash Wednesday)

We’re about 3 hours out of Potosi so we know we’re in for a full day of driving. Just as well the countryside is spectacular.

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9.30pm. Fast food in Oruro and then a smooth ride into La Paz via El Alto.

1.30am. Home at last. Work tomorrow – not sure how I feel about that.

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