I believe I can fly

At the moment I’m in Cochabamba, which isn’t one of my favourite places to say the least. The town is quite dirty and smelly and just doesn’t have a very nice vibe, but it’s good to see lots of different places in Bolivia I suppose.

The nightbus here was eventful if a bit hairy! I don’t know what our driver was on but he seemed to enjoy zooming around bends at top speed, despite the fact that we were bowling along a cobbled road going through the middle of cliffs! I’m glad I didn’t have a window seat – Maria had that happy pleasure. We arrived in Cochabamba at 5.30am instead of 7.00am as we had expected, so what does that say about the driver’s speed? Only a Bolivian driver could shave an hour and a half off a 12 hour bus journey!

Once we got to our hostel we all crashed out for a while in our rooms as none of us had slept very well on the bus, understandably! As a result most of us were late for breakfast, and it was honestly the most hilarious breakfast I’ve ever had. It took the kitchen staff an hour to make mine, even though I had only ordered bread, scrambled eggs and milk. I think it took about two hours in total for everyone to get served, and even then they got most of our orders wrong! The poor guy in charge of taking our orders was running around like a lunatic, bless him. I don’t know why the staff got so confused; even I can put bread on a plate, make tea and boil some eggs!

After our marathon breakfast ordeal, most of us walked to the foot of the hill with Cochabamba’s giant statue of Christ perched on top. We took the cable car up and spent the afternoon exploring the area surrounding the statue, as well as inside it! There are stairs inside the statue so we decided to climb up inside him, which got the adrenaline pumping due to the insanely wobbly handrail! I really enjoyed spending the afternoon with everyone, though, as it’s not very often that the whole group does the same thing at the same time. 🙂

I can’t believe what I did today… I went paragliding! 😯 I wasn’t going to but I was up early today (as usual) and saw Nick, Michelle, Tim, Dawn and Matt getting ready to go, so I just thought what the hell! It was really scary but by far the best thing I’ve done here.

The guides were really easygoing and apparently they’re two of only four professional paragliders in Bolivia, so I felt pretty safe beforehand. We were driven to a spot just outside Cochabamba with beautiful hills and a gorge where we were due to land, which I tried madly not to look at as we were driven to the top! Tim and me got harnessed in at the same time and he was a great help in calming my nerves; I had begun to question the wisdom of getting myself attached to a parachute and jumping off a massive hill! Once I did it, though, it was honestly the most exhilarating feeling in the world. I flew over the valley with my guide for about 5 or 10 minutes and the view over the city was just spectacular. As if my heart wasn’t already in my mouth, the guy started to do some acrobatics with me in the air! I said, “What are you doing? Is this acrobatics?” and he said it wasn’t, but when I felt myself going upside down I knew he was just saying that! Cue lots of screaming and whooping. 😀

Once all six of us had flown, the guides asked if we wanted to have lunch with them, which was a pleasant surprise! We ended up in a little outdoor restaurant selling typical Bolivian food, where I tried abas (a yummy type of green bean) and a few potatoes, the ultimate Bolivian staple.

I think the group is going ten-pin bowling tonight, which I’m excited about as I haven’t been bowling for ages. I haven’t done much in the way of learning about the culture of Cochabamba but I’m happy to just chill out and have some fun here as I’m off to La Paz tomorrow, where there will be lots more opportunites to soak up the Bolivian way of life. See you there!

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