A Dose of Travel Adversity in Bolivia

Monkeying around B4 the fall

“Sometimes you kick, sometimes you get kicked,” said INXS front man Michael Hutchence back in 1987.

And though it’s unlikely he was referring to travel adversity when we wrote those lyrics, it’d be those words that would come back to me as I stared incredulously at an email regarding our next day’s accommodation. Accommodation we’d worked incredibly hard to secure before jumping off the grid three days earlier.

Up until that moment we were simply thirsty, tired, and dirty. Road weary but still on Cloud 9 with the memories of the past three days’ worth of Salar de Uyuni sights still dancing tantalizingly fresh in o

ur heads.

And even with the past twelve hours spent in transit from the Chilean border and back, bouncing over the sort of roads seemingly tailor made for vehicle suspension testing, the adrenaline buzz was still with us. So much so, we were game for more.

More in the form of mad dash showers, repacking and dinner…all of it needing to be done in one

and a half hours. A whole 90 minutes before jumping on what was scheduled to be ten more hours on the last direct, overnight

Cochabamba’s main square

bus to Cochabamba scheduled for the next two days.

And that, as it’d turn out, would prove to be the good news.

Because it’d be then we’d see the email in question. An email delivering a cruel bump in the road from our AirBnB host; news that ohttp://journeyswithkaia.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/IMG_5013.jpgur confirmed instant booking had been terminated. Cancelled due to a pricing discrepancy between our host and AirBnB.

How this should’ve been allowed to involve my family and I was beyond me, but the fact was it suddenly did. And now we were going to have to deal with the last minute repercussions.

To be clear, over the past six months we’d used AirBnB too many times to count. And an incredibly convenient and good run it has been.

But this was a new ‘development’ and a terribly timed one, at that. And, not surprisingly, it set the stage for a less than stellar bus ride through the Bolivian late night and early morning darkness.

A ride made even less enjoyable due to a bus heating system cranked up enough to melt plastic, a bad stomach on my part, a locked onboard toilet and me getting scolded for resting my feet on, of all things, the foot rest in a somehow inappropriate manner. All this and, as seems par for the course for Bolivian bus transport, countless, inexplicable roadside stops ranging from ten to forty five minutes or more throughout the night.

As such, we’d pull into a chaotic Cochabamba bus terminal at 6 am in a bit of a funk. A funk to go along whttp://journeyswithkaia.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/IMG_4999.jpgith the still unresolved quandary as where we were supposed to lay our heads. A quandary whose immediate resolution would finally present itself two hours later care of a helpful cab driver and a clean but random hostal in the middle of Cochabamba’s automotive parts section of town.

The room resolved our immediate concern and was definitely better than nothing, but there was still no escaping the feeling we

’d drawn the short straw in the matter. But with a decent internet connection, all hope was not lost. Back into the AirBnB saddle we’d climb determined not to give up without a fight.

And this time, almost as if fate suddenly felt it had toyed with us long enough, we’d get the break we needed. A break in the form of a room in a quiet, park side neighbourhood located in the shadow of city’s iconic El Christo de la Concordia. All made possible by a host named Erin

The ride up El Cristo

from, of all places, the Steel City of Pittsburgh, PA.

It’d be there, with not an automotive parts store in sight, we’d happily make our stand for what would prove to be five relaxing and pleasant days.

A period of time that would see Erin (a placement coordinator for the non-profit organization Sustainable Bolivia) and her equally outgoing roommate Fabricio making us the recipients of countless restaurant recommendations, directions around town, a shared meal or two and a unique insider’s perspecti

Monkey See, Monkey Do

ve of Bolivia’s recent history.

And, more impressively, a period that saw Erin both willing and able to entertain an ever attention seeking Kaia. Entertainment in the form of drawing time, cake baking and assistance in hosting living room floor ‘hat tea


In the end it’d be five days that not only did its part to make our initial booking debacle a distant memory, but days that would serve as a powerful reminder that things tend to happen for a reason.

Hat tea party

And while it hadn’t been exactly easy or ideal, when all was said and done, we’d come out ahead.

Firstly, in the form of some generous compensation on the part of AirBnB. And secondly, more importantly, in finding ourselves a part of something far more substantial than a mere business transaction.

It was a good feeling and as we boarded our next bus in the general direction of Lake Titicaca, it was safe to say our heads were again screwed on right.

Screwed on right and, once again, ready to start doing the kicking.


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