Bus to Tarija...8:30 pm - 4:30 am...freezing cold on arr. A miserable ride - music blaring the whole trip (able to hear it even w/ earplugs...can't imagine it w/o), seat did not recline at all, road was excessively rough, and bus never went over 20 mph due to poor road (mtnous, narrow/one+ lane, curvey).
In Tarija bus terminal we decided to continue on to Yacuiba - our attempt to get around the Potosi blockade continues. We waited 'til 6:30 am when finally the ticket lady for the only bus going our way showed up to sell us tickets. Managed to find a small restaurant, open to air but out of wind - still cold, where we had tea and sopopillas. My feet nearly suffered from frostbite I think, waiting 'til 8:30 bus to arrive and we could get on. Day is cloudy which I think is contributing to the cold - no sun to warm us up even a little!
On the road, countryside is short trees/bushes and dryland kind of vegitation, very rocky foothills (pavment lasted 1/2 hr!). Up and over from the dry vegitation to grand vistas of what can only be described as rain forest heading into the Gran Chaco, however, the green we see is deceptive - up close the leaves (tho still clinging mostly to trees...yet I see dull green,dried ones on the ground) are desicated, wrinkled for the most part. Suffering from exteme drought, the newspaper I read had a story about it - 90% of the populous in this area lives from mostly dairy cow production (saw wome pigs and sheep too). The story said they estimate there is enuf water for 2 liters/cow/day but they need 100 liters to produce milk. The article described the situation as disatrous! Check Out Gran Chaco
I'm guessing, but I also think, this bus journey on single lane, dirt roads, in mtnous. terrain, is the most twisty, turny one we have ever experienced...even surpassing ones in N.W. India/Kashmir mtnous areas. I think I also discovered now we can measure how far off the beaten track we are. The frequency of plastic bottles along side the road! We are now traveling thru some pretty sparcely settled countryside and I count plastic bottles at 1 km apart. Quite amaqing given the remoteness of the place that they are even that frequent tho buses pass thru every day so?!
This part of our journey has little to do with sightseeing and everything to do with avoiding backtracking to get to Sucre. Because of the dry conditions the road is covered (as well as all nearby roadside vegitation) w/ a very fine, reddish-pink dust!
An Aside: It amazes me when I think about it...that we can come into a completely unknown town, hand someone a small piece of paper (albet w/ nice, sometimes even colorful pictures on both sides), and in return get a ride thru some of the most picturesque landscape anywhere in the world!
All day long (since we got into countryside) or for the past 6-8 hours at least we haven't passed more than half doz. vehicles, only one was a car the rest freight hauling trucks all going the opposite direction. Can't imagine what it's like on this road in the rainy season - dust turns to slippery mud, with these hairpin turns and sheer drops of 100-200', and single lane most of the way, only infrequent widespots for two vehicles to pass! Still cloudy, quite pleasant travel now tho this am downright frigid - no heat in this rattletrap bus.
Suddenly coming down, we're in a wideopen valley and field w/ pigs, cows, horses grazing on ?? brown dirt is it! And just as suddenly a town w/ newly constructed/under construction cement channel, paved blvd, street lamps, etc. and 2 km of paved hwy out of town...then back to dust, dirt and same old, same old! What gives?? Don't know. Up into mtns again, this time real green, rain forest-like...obviously more water/rainfall and then we drop down again, into a large, wide open plain which goes drier the further we get fron the mtn crossing and 'new town'!
Arr in Yacuiba about 7...the town is very spread out, (founded in 1574 no less) but all the signs of a border town - lots of long haul semi's, even large fenced parking areas where many are parked...waiting?! The bus station is a welcome sight - all the buses come and go from the same place (vs Peru's disfunctional system). After ckg around we found we could get tickets to Sucre (19 hrs./180b.-$25 US) or Santa Cruz (8 hrs./70b.-$10 US). Different roads so we'd have to decide...another long trip but on a route w/o retracing or shorter but perhaps retracing. We chose Santa Cruz lvg at 9 am tomor. Walked across to Residential LaPanchaf (?), a dbl w/TV & hot water 80b.