11h20: I’m slowly becoming an intrepid traveller: thinking nothing of arriving at a [seemingly random] street corner with my bags, asking around until I find the hole in the wall from which tickets are sold, signing up for a seat on a collectivo/minibus that I hope is going where I want it to, and then waiting around for the rest of the seats to fill.
And fill they did. There are fully four human beings inhabiting the two seats next to me. And the seats are the least of this minibus’s load. Most of the passengers on this trip brought two or three massive feed sacks worth of supplies, (potatoes, flour, EGGS!, etc), that all got heaved on to the roof. I’m surprised that the sales lady didn’t full-on laugh when I said that my “equipaje este mui grande”, as I would say I’ve got one of the smallest loads in the bus.
The late teens or early twenties reception clerk from the hostel had warned me that the collectivos are driven very dangerously and often get into accidents, and that I should seriously consider taking the scheduled tour bus that leaves at 06h00 or 18h00, depending on the day. Likely sound enough advice, however, today the bus leaves at 18h00 and that means I would arrive between 22h00 and 0h00, making finding a bed difficult. As I sat waiting for the bus to fill, I felt my decision was not too foolhardy since my driver spent the two hours painstakingly wiping down every surface of the van and briskly sweeping all the fabric surfaces. It seems unlikely that someone who takes such [absurd? since we are going into a dust bowl] pride in his vehicle would then carelessly roll it into a ditch. Think of the cleaning required after that!
17h06: I’m here, generally in one piece! A bit of karma for a good deed done earlier in the day has secured me the last room in what the internet says is the best hostel in town. Funnily enough, who should be in one of the other rooms but Eli and Geronimo! They had already formed a group of six to tour Vergel Falls and its Canyon, as well as the dinosaur footprints and some pre-historic paintings, and luckily the tour guide let a seventh join in – thirty-one boliviano tour for all! Easy-peesy.
I’m now sitting on the stoop of the hostel, Los Hermanas, due to the curious custom of hostels locking their doors, without providing a key to the customers.
22h18: bed after a delicious international group effort meal. France provided the chefly preparation, Argentina provided the chicken acquisition skills, New Zealand provided the forno oven know how, and Canada provided the unexpected bread boon. Seven thirty game time tomorrow, so rise and shine at 06h00!