bolivian hospitality

A Taste of Bolivian Hospitality

bolivian hospitality

After leaving Puno, Peru, I caught a bus to the Bolivian border. My plan was to check out the floating villages on Lake Titicaca for a day, and then head to La Paz the next day. After an annoyingly long border crossing, and then  a short ride to Cobanacopa (not to be confused with Copacobana, Brazil), my plans drastically changed. As I exited the bus, something inside me hit hard and I was instantly very sick. I started shaking dramatically, and could barely see or talk. I knew I had a bad fever, and needed some sleep.

I started stumbling down the street, not knowing where a hostel or hotel was, barelly able to walk under the weight of  my backpack. I must have looked like a prime target for one hawker, because he walked up, didn’t say a word, and started taking off my backpack. I was to sick to give a damn and just said to hell with it, he can have it. But then, to my surprise, after putting on my pack, he took my hand and started leading me down a side street. I thought for sure I was about to be robbed even more, but could hardly care.

But then something very relieving happened: We arrived in front of a nice hotel where an old lady opened the door for us. I stumbled in and got myself to the reception desk. I managed to ask how much for a room (cuanto cuesta?). All I heard for an answer was 50 a night. I didnt care if it was $500, I could not physically go anywhere else. (though $50 is more than I’d ever paid on the road). Before practically dragging my self to my new room, I gave my new friend $20 and a note to take to the pharmacy. The note only had one word on it, and the kid would get a good tip if he brought it to me: Ciprofloxacin. Cipro being the miracle drug that cures all backpacker ailments, I knew i had to get my hands on some. bolivian hospitality

When I finally got to my room, my heart sank. My room was by far the nicest one I’ve ever had on the road, and I instantly knew that it was truly $50 a night that I had heard. I had about $400 to get me all the way over-land to Rio, so $50 a night was unheard of. However, I was so weak and sick I didnt care about anything else in the world. 10 minutes later my new friend arrived with a huge  box of Cipro, and I was one happy man. Got to love countries where something like a prescription are not needed to get powerful drugs. I took one and passed out under a pile of blankets.

12 hours later I woke up long enough to take another pill and checl out me room a little more. For the first time in a long time I had my own private bath room, and a large bed with AC in the room. I had a large balcony over-looking Lake Titicaca, with nice lounge chair all to my self. It was bitter sweet though, knowing I couldn’t afford it, yet didn’t have strength to go anywhere else. I passed back out shortly.

a few days later, I was feeling good enough to at least go find a cheaper hostel, so I packed up my stuff and went down to pay the piper, or in this case, a little old lady. I was scared shitless.. I timidly asked how much, and she said 200.-Dos Cientos. “” Ok, 200 Dollars. Just a second.”” then she said, “‘You pay in Dollars? ok. ummmm, it’s $25″”. What!? Oh thank god. I was so excited and surprised that it wasn’t $200, that I stayed another night. I doubt I’ll ever be more relieved in my life!bolivian hospitality

 

Backpacker Diaries, Latin America, Travel Stories

6 thoughts on “A Taste of Bolivian Hospitality

  1. JR RielonReply

    Interesting experience. It’s always nice to hear of people who come to your aid when you need it the most. I mean sure he made some money off of it, after all it helped you out in a big way.

  2. AnthonyonReply

    Justin, So sorry to hear of your illness, but your post brought back so many great memories. I have had the pleasure of visiting Bolivia twice and I’ve cross “lago titicaca” and experienced lots of wonderful Bolivian hospitality myself (the people of Coroico – in Law Yungas – were especially wonderful.)

    Best wishes for your travels.

    ~ Anthony @ TravelRinger.com

  3. Tony HawkeronReply

    This is a beautiful travel story, one that doesn’t just list monuments, food and places to see. Its a great piece of writing that uses Bolivia as a setting and paints the people is an admirable way. Also, thanks for the hot tip about Ciprofloxacin, i’ll keep it in mind.

  4. BrigidonReply

    I love stories like this! I just never tire of seeing the good in people when I travel. I was sick also when I was in Copacabana…it’s a good place to rest if you’re sick, so relaxing and peaceful.

  5. WesleyonReply

    Nice read! good to know that there are good people out there willing to help out those in need.
    What was the name of the hotel you stayed in? I will be heading on a journey through south america and looking for affordable options to stay as a plan B if the hostels are booked

    Thanks.Keep up the great writing!

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