June 22, 2007
Today was highlighted by confusing and bad advice. I wanted to go back to La Paz, and everyone I talked to told me a different story about the bus situation. The lady at my hotel told me that there was a bus at noon, and to take it I had to walk to the edge of town and wait. I did just that, but when I got to a suitable waiting point, a guy told me there was no bus today and I'd have to walk an hour to the next town and hitch a ride back to La Paz. I started walking in the direction he told me, but a third guy told me that there was a bus at 2:00, and it was going to Chojlla first. I didn't feel like walking much, so I decided to wait and see if this mysterious bus would ever show up.
The bus did eventually come, and it was going in the direction of Chojlla. I figured being on some sort of vehicle was better than sitting around and waiting, so I got on. When we got to Chojlla I put my backpack on top of the bus thinking it would be safe there. We had lunch and were about to leave when the driver informed me that all of the seats were already sold, so I'd have to sit on some blankets in the aisle next to him. That was no problem; all I cared about was getting back to La Paz.
When we left Chojlla, we stopped at a government checkpoint and were all told to exit the bus. That's when I noticed that there were actually several people riding on top of the bus, and some kid was sitting on my backpack. The driver suggested that I could instead ride back to La Paz on the conveniently empty minibus behind us and I wouldn't have to pay the fare again. I figured there was a high chance of something of mine getting broken or stolen with the kid sitting on my backpack for the entire trip, so switching buses was an easy decision. As soon as I got on board the minibus, the driver explained that I'd still have to pay for the ride, so the other driver had lied to me. It was quite upsetting that so many people had lied to me or given me bad info today, but the prices here are so cheap, I could deal with paying the extra $1.50 it would take to get me back. The thing that really got me mad was that after the checkpoint, we went right back through Yanacachi in front of my hotel room. If only someone were capable of telling me the truth, I could have relaxed in my hotel room for an extra three hours instead of running around and trying to find the bus.
The bus later went up one of the Yungas Roads, which along with the World's Most Dangerous Road, is one of the most striking roads on the entire continent. We went all the way from 2500 meters to La Cumbre at 4700 meters, then back through El Alto and down into La Paz. It took almost all day, but I was finally back in the city and able to relax.