Gleich bei der Grenze wurden wir mit Korruption konfrontiert – hier wollte der Beamte USD5 pro Wagen haben um unsere Papiere zu bearbeiten – diese Dollarnoten verschwanden sofort in einer Tageszeitung – und das, obwohl ein grosses Schild zur Bekämpfung der Korruption daneben stand. Ob es wohl überall in Bolivien so weitergehen wird? Auf alle Fälle waren uns hier die Polizisten und Militärs unangenehm. Weiter ging es über Villamontes, wo wir im Hotel Los Rancho übernachteten, weiter bis Santa Cruz ins Landhaus (mit Camping) von Sergio.
In Villamontes we had our first taste of the endless string of military monuments of Bolivia – there seems to be evidence of strong military influenced government in the country.
El Fuerte Landhaus is a suitable camping stop in Santa Cruz, the restaurant offers good food and Sergio can give advice and we learned a lot about the country, especially in view of the trucker strikes the country was experiencing ( but fortunately did not affect us).
We soon learned that filling up diesel or petrol as a foreigner had its problems. Per litre price for local was Bol 3.72 whereas foreigners had to pay Bol 8.80! Initially we parked in side streets and went on foot to the service station to fill 20ltr canisters at a time -a hard slog to fill up. In this case we paid around Bol 5.50-6.00 per ltr. At the service station pump attendant often flatly refused to fill the vehicle at the pumps as all stations are supervised with CCTV. As time went on we realised that not only foreign vehicles are affected, but all vehicles without official registration plate – and there were hundreds of them, plenty of motor cycles. All filled up with canisters and as time went by we were brazen enough to park on the station and carry our diesel – even when police came by, nothing happened.
On our way to the Samaipata ruins, we stopped at Gerd Griese’s famous little meat processing factory in Samaipata. Rumour had it that the world’s best liver polony is made here. What we found were the best hams, salamis, sausages and of course, an excellent liver spread. We bought stacks as this is difficult to obtain in Southern America. Unfortunately we had extremely heavy mist in the mountains and could not visit the ruins -however we found an idyllic camping spot in a stream close by at Mama Pascuala camping.
Next in line was to travel the Ruta del Ché to the town La Higuera, where Ché Guevara was captured and shot. Staying at the Casa del Telegrafista, run by the french couple Oda and Juan allowed us to gain insights into the historic last days of the hero of many South Americans.
From La Higuera we travelled a full day through a variety of landscapes, desert like and not as we had thought Bolivia would look like.We travelled to Villa Serrano where we found at the hotel Mi Tierra a parking spot in the backyard for the vehicles. During supper in a local restaurant serving delicious chicken we were quite an attraction as foreigners -the town is not generally frequented by tourists. Imagine our surprise to see a sculpture of the “Bremer Stadtmusikanten” on a plaza in the town.
The road took us via Padilla, Tomina and Sudañez to Tarabuco, known for its Sunday indigenous art market. However, during the week it made more an impression being a town featuring in Clint Eastwood movies.
Startling to us was the relatively new monument depicting a scene of a heart being ripped out of the body of a Spanish soldier.
We then travelled further on to Sucre where we stayed with Alberto and Felizidad – only to later find out that Alberto is professor in electrical engineering, speciality electrical motors. Best of all – Sucre can be visited on foot, about a 10 minute walk.