31st March 2015 – A new International Holiday!

We finally escaped the clutches of La Paz but not before getting our laundry done. Our boutique hotel offered to do it for £3.50 a kilo! Pah!! We found a place that did it for 80p a kilo! The bill at the hotel came as a little shock, especially with the £8 added on for the glass table I broke! And £28 for a late check out! We’re used to it being free! Never mind, we had 5 nights of luxury so it was (probably) worth it. Time to reign it in a bit again now though.
We caught a night bus to Potosi, leaving at 8.30pm for ten hours, and we had our usual very comfortable reclining seats. However, the first stop in the lawless town of El Alto was a bit wild with people piling on trying to sell things! Chaos! The bus stopped again for 15 minutes at about 2am, in a tiny village. The bus driver jumped off hurriedly carrying a toilet roll, so there was obviously some sort of toilet emergency occurring! I got off for a cigarette, and was amused to see the following – all buses seem to have a young lad as a sort of assistant to the driver. We’ll call him The Driver’s Boy, Little Juan. This Boy got off with his hammer, and went around the bus tapping each wheel with his magic hammer (I’ve seen this done a lot, but usually just kicking the wheel, never a hammer). I can just imagine the following conversation with his driver afterwards:
Señor Miguel – “Little Juan, have you used your magic hammer while I was dropping one off in the khazi?”
Little Juan – “Yes Señor Miguel!”
SM – “And what were your findings?”
LJ – “Well, I’ve tapped each wheel in turn, and I can report that they are indeed inflated!”
SM – “Anything else?”
LJ – “Yes, the magic hammer tells me that the carburettor needs cleaning, the flange sprocket gimlets are good for another 3000km, the tapper heads are fine and the knurled piston is 38.7% worn”
LJ was happy with his magic hammer. It had been in his family for many generations, ever since his great great great great great great grandfather had used it to test the mules’ legs (this wasn’t so successful, generally ending up with lame mules).
Anyway, off we went again, and with the hEli of the fantastic Asda Sleep Aid Tablets we managed quite a good sleep. On arrival in Potosi at half 6 in darkness, it looked pretty grim, in fact not too dissimilar from Barnsley. Getting off the bus we were faced with the usual harassment from the vulture-like taxi drivers, literally picketing the bus door. We accepted one at £1.50, and I couldn’t even be bothered to barter him down. Our hostel owner was quite surprised to be roused at 6.45am when check in isn’t til 12, but as usual we were met with a friendly welcome and ushered into our nice room, where we slept a bit more.
A few hours later and up again to explore. But first, a momentous occasion, and the day of 31st March 2015 will forever in future be regarded as a National Holiday world wide – I had to create a new hole in my belt for my new slimline waist!!! Ring the bells! Hang out the bunting! The blubber is going!!!
It just happened that we’d arrived in Potosi on its 470th anniversary! What timing! In a clear blue sky we watched thousands of school children marching through the town to brass bands, all immaculately dressed. Potosi was in fact nothing quite like Barnsley, but actually a nice place! Certainly one of the hilliest places we’ve been to. It’s just over 4000m (one of the highest cities in the world), and is over looked  by the mountain Cerro Rico at 4,800m inside of which is an enormous silver mine, where miners still work in the most brutal and harsh conditions. So, back to Barnsley……
I’m currently writing this on our roof top terrace while sampling the local brew. Tonight we’re cooking pasta and “things” as part of our budget plan! Our entire meal has cost us £1.50 from the local market!
Tomorrow we’re heading to Uyuni and then a three day trek across the Salt Flats and the driest area of the world, the Atacama Desert, which we can’t wait for. I doubt if there’ll be bloggage from there! We end our trek across the border in Chile, where we’re hoping to meet up with our lovely 21 year old Danish daughters, Anna and Laura! (I suggested to Charlotte we could get a family room for all of us, but was instantly treated to a frosty glare and a look of despair. No sense of humour some women……)
Speaking of family, Josh has moved in with his new Mothers for the week, the beautiful ladies Sarah and Shelley, who seem to be spoiling him rotten! Don’t do it girls, you’ll never get rid of him!!! 😃

Finally, this aimed really at Mins and brother Dave –  do you have the album Wally Valley Gardens on CD, and if so could you possibly work out how to email the tracks to me? I’ve got all the other stuff they’ve done, but not that one with me. Also, Finch, thanks for the Steve Hackett! I’m just downloading it today and it’s my bus journey music tomorrow! Keep it coming!!
Now, back to beer and sun….. Cheers chaps!




Charlotte drinking coca tea out of a bag! The lady is a tramp!


This just shows how far behind the world Bolivia is…


The Cathedral in Potosi


Cerro Rico, containing the silver mine


Craig Swallow celebrates his recent court win! Bloody brilliant Craig!!!!


Me on the roof, with a new beer, Potosina, and a welcome return to litre sized bottles!!!


Some people have asked if its a chore writing this. Well, no……. This is me hard at work


More or less centre page is the very aptly named town where out driver rushed to the toilet! I’ll let you work it out…..





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