A Weekend in Cochabamba

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Plaza Colon in Cochabamba

This weekend I went to a place called Cochabamba. I flew there; the flight takes around 30 minutes. Yes I do feel guilty, but Bolivian buses are notoriously unreliable, the roads are bad and the drivers are often drunk (yes seriously; I really don’t like flying but even I feel safer in a plane than in a Bolivian bus). There’s my justification and I stand by it.

They call Cochabamba the ‘city of eternal Spring’. Actually I’ve been to a few places that name themselves similarly, and I always find them a bit cold. Spring is cold. It was lovely and warm during the day but, like Sucre, cold at night. Since budget accommodation has no heating and usually only luke warm showers I found it cold.

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Streetlife, Cochabamba

You can easily see the main sights of the city in a couple of days. There is also a national park in the vicinity, but I only had two days so that didn’t happen.

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The main square

I read that Cochabamba has the best food in Bolivia (although there are many people who would say that isn’t much of a boast).  They do serve trout, which was a nice change.  Fish generally is not popular in Bolivia, since there is no coastline.  However Cochabamba has a lake nearby, making freshwater fish a viable proposition.  Apart from that, really there wasn’t a lot of difference.

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Things I enjoyed doing inside the city include taking the cable car up to the statue of Christ that overlooks the city. This is the second tallest Christ statue in the world.  The one in Rio, which I assumed to be the biggest since it is an iconic symbol of the city, only comes in at number five.

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El Cristo is also good as a navigational aid if you get lost, since his right hand points North

This is the view you can expect from the top.

There is a market, El Charco. It is very big, but really much the same as any other markets I’ve found in Bolivia. Being bigger means it is more chaotic and really just has more stalls selling the same things. I had a quick poke around, but I didn’t stay long (no photos because really it was too crowded and I was focusing all my attention on keeping a tight hold of my purse, phone and anything else I had on me).

Instead, here is some pictures of the street art I came across as I walked to the market.

Trip Advisor’s number one thing to see in Cochabamba (and mine too) was Palacio Portales.  This European style mansion was built with a fortune earned through tin mining.  They run a programme of cultural events there, and also an ever-changing art exhibition.  There is a somewhat erratic schedule of guided tours of the house (no photos allowed) in Spanish and English.  I was the only one to show up for the English tour.IMG_8521

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I didn’t say anything before I went, but I did have in mind that if I really liked Cochabamba then I might head there to live for my final month in Bolivia, rather than staying in Sucre (particularly since I have to find somewhere new to live anyway). I liked Cochabamba well enough, but it didn’t jump out and grab me sufficiently (although I was almost sold when I found a supermarket with actual fresh produce and cosmetics in it).

However I have decided not to stay another month in Sucre either. It’s not that I don’t like it here but I’m sick of being cold at night, I’m sick of battling with a barely warm shower every day (I tend to stand on the periphery and aim body parts at it one at a time; it’s too cold to get underneath). This is not the tropics; I need a hot shower.

The slow internet is another challenge, as is the lack of shops and the trouble tracking down ‘essential’ (to me anyway) items.

So all this means that after I return from my trip to the cold remote lands of Uyuni I will be heading for new challenges.

 

2 replies »

  1. Hello Sarah. I understand totally about the hot show. The novelty of travelling can wear a bit thin after a while and you need to be warm! I just love the street art, well you know that. It amazes me that wherever you go in the world there are artists displaying their work for all to see. Amazing. I did laugh when you said that you could have lived in Cochabamba because of the supermarket. So funny. I feel now that I have to go to a main supermarket in your honour, just because I can.

    I wonder where we are going to end up next? So exciting. Safe travels my friend xx

    • Well it’s always surprising the things you miss when you’re travelling. Some people miss friends and family, I miss supermarkets and channel 4 news.
      No I’ve had enough of being cold. During the day when it’s nice and sunny I forget how bad it is Then at night when I”m wrapped up in two sweat shirts and still shivering I remember again.
      I have a plan; but it’s a week away yet so I’m still living in the moment.

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