We woke early that morning (7am) to buy tickets for the train which would take us all the way to Santa Cruz. Now everything in South America is complicated, they seem to like that way. So anyway, we find this local guy who ´works´ the station, who says he will help us all out. Fine. So, he take ours names in order to give them to the local police fella, who then makes a list and decides which people he will let in the queue first and who will have to wait. Weird eh? Anyway, it all gets sorted, and we get our 2nd class tickets for 52 Bolivianos, about 4 quid. We then headed off fo breakkie, a nap, a shower and some lunch to get the train at 1.30pm. The train pulls in and everyone starts jostling for queue positions etc, but we get on in our 2nd class carriage ok. We had the very last carriage, and when we say 2nd class, it´s more like shed on wheels. The bloody Bolivians take everything they own, everywhere with them, so there was alot of luggage on board. The seats were hard and uncomfortable, but worse was yet to come....... it was a really
crazy experience which we´d really recommend but not for the normal reasons i.e. nice scenery etc. As we said it was a bloody horrible train (we should of gone 1st class) but we got a real insight into how some of these people live, and try to make a living and got to see some mad sh*te. At the first stop of the journey around 20-30 Bolivians who sounded like they´re having a riot start to pile boxes and boxes and bags of "stuff" (no, not that kind of stuff) onto the train - it´s kinda scary/exciting until you find out what´s going on. Basically it´s all illegal food and stuff that they smuggle over the boarder from Brazil (lord only knows why) and the police/army who patrol the train get paid off to let them do this. I guess it´s a scam of some sort to make cash but our
carraige was just totally full, and I mean full, we were pretty much boxed into our seats and they get all this stuff on (and it actually fills the carraige) it a matter of minutes, they stick it through every window, door, whatever´s available. The stuff is then piled up where possible and trains sets off again. The crazy Bolivians then all stay up all night chewing on coca leaves, smoking, talking loudly, and probably doing drugs until we arrive at the stop before La Paz to unload all the gear. All of this makes for pretty sureal journey, at one point Sam was standing at the back of the train with some of the locals having a fag and trying some of the local rum/paint stripper when all of the sudden the train stops, a horse "neh´s" and one of the dudes, without saying a word jumps off the back of the train (this in the middle of no-where) and (we assume) gets on his horse!