Monday, 13 July 2015

Overnight bus & debauchery: Santa Cruz, Bolivia

Wow. The overnight bus was incredible in terms of value for money. The seats turned into full-length beds, there was free wifi, and DVD players on the back of each seat! I had the worst journey though because I was FREEZING cold despite putting on my big jumper as the air con was ridiculous. I also wanted to cry in frustration at the start of the trip as a movie was playing so loudly that I couldn't sleep. It was a war film and blaring bombs/ screaming non-stop, it was driving me mad!

We arrived in Santa Cruz at 5:30am, earlier than expected, and hopped into a cab to our hostel. Thankfully, the hostel was really nice and they let us chill in the TV room. It kind of smells of vomit though so wasn't that great but at least we didn't have to hang around outside till 2pm to check in. At 10am we decided to go to the mall to see what was there, it turns out it was the most western building ever. Completely out of place in Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz reminds me far more of Asia in that it is VERY run down in a lot of areas, hut type structures. I like it here more because of it though.

When we got here, it was a bit daunting at first since it felt VERY unsafe. Listening to stories from other travellers, they have found certain areas of Bolivia worse than others. Potosi, for example, we heard about a guy having his entire backpack stolen whilst being distracted by another person at the bus station. Also, two in the same location were spat on, then whilst the person apologizes and goes to clean it up, they rob you. Further, Mark met a man who was really badly beaten up by locals as they kept asking for money but he didn't actually have any on him, but they didn't believe him.

After time though, we became more accustomed to the place. Admittedly, we haven't been out of the hostel much the last two days, but we have been on nights out. On Saturday when we arrived, after the shopping mall and food, we were finally allowed to check in. After the coldest shower of my whole life, we chilled out by the pool as there was lovely sunshine. We got a few cocktails and eventually met Jade and Alex, two English solo travellers, and got a cab into the centre square. We first visited the Irish bar for food, but drinks were expensive so we moved to a crappy shady bar that had cheap drinks and local feel, so it was nice anyway.

After, we went to DoDa, this student bar: it was a beautiful place, drinks weren't too badly priced, and it filled up around 11pm. Jade ended up asking the bartender if he knew where to get cocaine - he looked very confused, thus she proceeded to pretend to snort lines and he looked very embarrassed. I'm not sure who was redder in the face - me watching her, or him!

After a few more bars, and being sufficiently intoxicated, we caught a cab home and regretted the worlds worst hangover on Sunday.

We were supposed to leave on Sunday to our next stop, but we met some funny english guys and so decided to stay. The weather was great again so we just sat by the pool all day, relaxing. The boys were telling us where to go, and where to avoid. Because of the dangerous road to Sucre we decided to take an alternative route. Got some great advice on companies to use at the salt flats and machu picchu. The boys were all very high on weed so just found everything funny. It was one of their 21st birthdays so they wanted to have a big night out. They were telling us about this bar called Route 36 in La Paz, Bolivia. It is the worlds first cocaine bar. There isn't a set location, it moves every few weeks, you just ask taxi drivers and they all know where it is. It is for westerners only. They said it was really shady and weird, they wouldn't go back but it was an interesting experience. (Don´t worry mum, we have no plans to visit it! I don't do cocaine and I don't fancy jail in Bolivia... Or cocaine....).

In the evening we drank in the hostel before heading out. We first went to the Irish bar again, there was a group of 10 of us which was nice, but all the bars in the area closed early! So, feeling rather defeated, we ventured back. Not before the boys picked up some cocaine though: it cost them £10 a gram! When we got back, I just headed straight to bed as I wasn't feeling very well and hadn't been drinking really anyway, so I didn't fancy sitting there just listening to them chat rubbish all night.

Today we have bummed around again, waiting for this evening where we´ll get a bus to Cochabama, then to Oruro, to get a train to Uyuni Salt Flats. I'd 100% recommend this hostel, Jodanga backpackers. It's quite expensive but it's really nice. The staff are laid back and don't mind you hanging around all day using their facilities.


  1. you should know that there are bus crashes in Bolivia often.
    In August last year a bus driver fell asleep on the way back from salt flats at night, 10 people died, along with many injured.

  2. Thanks for the heads up - but yes, we're aware, this is why we decided to skip Sucre as the road was too dangerous for our liking. Of course, accidents frequently happen in England too! We try to be as safe as possible but unfortunately lack the money to fly everywhere!