Falling Down1

The other day we stayed in Cochabamba, a medium sized town spread over a large area. We stayed in a cheap hostel in the centre as they had parking. It was only 100BOL for the hostel which is about £10. The Wi-Fi didn’t work but no problem for one night. We left at around 10:30 the next day to find the town devoid of traffic and only people and bikes. It was a Sunday. We though this strange and since we were in the centre we carried on very slowly avoiding people and children in the middle of the road. There were no cars anywhere!First policeman stopped up and this set the trend for the next 3 hours….we traveled at 10kmph with bikes overtaking us and got stopped by every policeman at every junction almost. Eventually all sent us on our way…..except the last one. After maybe 20km and 2 hours we got a nasty one and he told me to stop, took my license and drove off. I ignored him and drove off immediately he was moving after he thought we’d given up. I was about 5 meters behind him. He turned and went away. Julie was worried I’d get arrested. I wasn’t. What would he arrest me for ! Driving on a road. So we carried on and eventually a police bike caught up to us. She had my license and gave it back. We got an escort out of town for the next 6km. This is an area the size of Sheffield with every street devoid of cars. No cars allowed. How were we to leave ? Anyhow we did leave and I didn’t get arrested but made a policemen VERY angry. I got my fake license back and mostly the police we understanding and helpful. Its the only day in the year they do this. We were unlucky. My stress levels were peaking as every person we passed and every policeman was giving us “the eye” for three hours.Later that day we needed fuel. Theres a strange rule in Bolivia where we are not allowed to buy fuel at the standard price. Its three times the price for us. On this occasion nobody would actually sell it to us. We’d heard about this. So after 10 or so gas stations we found one that not only sold it to us but at the locals price. We tipped him 35BOL for the 100 litres we purchased and saved about 500BOL in the process. 500BOL is £50 as its about 10 to 1. We were close to braking point. It was late when we arrived in La Paz and the traffic was terrible. We’d had a really bad day…..

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