Santa Cruz was a disappointment. And, in going there, we made it to a part of Bolivia that is far from everything. Our next move could be fatal to the trip. Either we could go back the way we came and head towards the capital (which we probably should have done from the beginning) OR we could continue to weave our way through the Amazon and through less explored parts of Bolivia. We heard from other travelers that the road to Santa Cruz was blocked to travel which is a common occurrence in Bolivia as a form of protest. So, we opted for adventure and set out to Trinidad in central Bolivia. We got “taken” at the bus station, paying double what other passengers paid for the trip…although we didn’t know this until too late. Then, our overnight bus ran into a blockade at 4am. All of a sudden, we were asked to get off the bus, grab our belongings and walk to the next town. Joshua, being a gentlemen, offered to carry two heavy bags for an elderly lady. We ended up walking 2km at 4am carrying double the luggage we originally had past hundreds of stopped buses and trucks through a burning blockade. Another bus, stopped on the other side of the blockade, picked us up and we continued on the journey. Normal for almost everyone on the bus, except us.
At first, Trinidad looked lively with everyone riding around on motorcycles; but once we settled in, we found it to be sad.
Even the tourist office suggested we head to the next town when asked what there was to do in the area. But with even more rain, all travel was suspended by bus and car. The roads in this part of Bolivia are so bad that nothing runs from December to May AT ALL. We thought we might get lucky, but that was not the case. Our first bus trip was cancelled due to poor roads. I got sick (probably from a combination of too many night buses and mold in our hostel). Then our camera broke, again. We spent two hours on the phone with Canon from a Bolivian internet cafe trying to get a replacement for our SECOND DEFECTIVE CAMERA, but they were completely unhelpful. In a moment of desperation, we went to a travel agent to look into flying to our next destination. Only one seat available on the flight…wah wah. At that moment, our travel problems seemed insurmountable. We were stuck in our NASTY hostel for another day. We were the only tourists in town. One man, a missionary, said he hadn’t met anyone from America in the two years he’s been there. No wonder.
We managed to get a second seat on the 19 person flight to Rurrenabaque. At that point, I would have paid anything to get out of Trinidad. Then, I saw the plane we were flying on and reconsidered. It was small. I couldn’t even duck in the aisle…the ceiling was so low. We carried all our luggage on our laps. There were no oxygen masks; only little plugs in the roof. In absence of flight attendants, we assume a pilot would leave the cockpit to dispense the oxygen masks in an emergency. Joshua discovered that his row only had two oxygen ports for the three seats…lovely. We watched the captains landing the plane 40 minutes later through the front windshield. And we thought the buses were bad!