Thursday, 29 December 2011


So, after approximately 13 hours in Bolivia, I know what the Spanish word is for testicles. It's criadillas. Could've done without that helpful lesson so early in the trip, but there it is.

But let me back up- maybe I should start with our arrival in Bolivia. Actually, I'll start with our departure from the States. We left my parent's place yesterday, saying our goodbyes and using our backpacks for the first time. Here's us right before we left, with our gear on our backs, looking super dorky.

We flew into Santa Cruz this morning on an uneventful flight from Miami (the most eventful thing that happened is that I got sick, but I always get sick, so it's hardly worth mentioning). As we flew overnight and didn't get a ton of sleep on the plane, we went straight to our hotel room (yes, I said hotel. I'll explain in a second) to rest. We were able to check in early, take hot showers and pass out for a few hours, which we desperately needed to recharge our batteries before exploring Santa Cruz. The plan wasn't always to have a nice hotel. We actually had booked a hostel for tonight, but I had some airline miles that were about to expire, so we decided to use them for a comfortable hotel to start our trip off right.

We spent the afternoon exploring Santa Cruz, which, in all honesty, was not that exciting. There is little to see in the city, so we just wandered through the streets and people watched. One of the cooler things we saw was this nativity scene, where the wise men are bringing baby Jesus corn instead of frankincense and myrrh. Personally, I'd prefer to be the Bolivian baby Jesus; frankincense just doesn't sound that tasty...

And here's my favorite wise man, who looks pretty pissed that he only brought one ear of corn while his buddies both brought whole baskets full. Embarrassing...

We also found some good stuff to eat. We tried chicha, a drink made from fermented corn, which is sweet and milky and delicious. We then had some surprisingly good fried chicken and rice, which, in addition to two pints of beer each, set us back a whopping $4 a person. Bolivia is ridiculously inexpensive when you go to the right places.

However, when you go to the wrong places, you end up eating bull testicles that cost twice as much as the fried chicken. Which is exactly what we did this evening.

When we were walking today, we saw an adorable restaurant with a veranda and a band playing tonight. When we returned this evening and sat down, we realized that the restaurant was pretty expensive by Bolivian standards. In order to keep to our budget, we ordered the cheapest main course: los criadillas de toro. The way the name of the dish was handwritten on the menu, it looked to us like griadillas, which looked like the French word grillade. We thought we were ordering grilled bull steak. Boy, were we wrong... The realization that we were clearly eating something we would later regret, coupled with the music from the band, which ended up being terrible, ended our day on a lower note than we would have liked.

So here we are after our first day on the trip, burping up bull balls, but still pretty happy and excited about what's next. We head to Samaipata tomorrow and will spend three nights there. We've read that it is beautiful, with tons of hiking trails through the mountains. I think tomorrow we will feel a little more like we are in Bolivia. Santa Cruz is very tropical and hot, so we feel like we are in Mexico, rather than the cold, high-altitude Bolivia that we've read so much about. Can't wait to see what the rest of the country is like, bull balls and all!


  1. Couilles de taureau..., ca commence bien ! :-)

  2. hahaha,nice to read your first experiences!ours will start in little over 1 week too...finishing off the friends&family-tour and then few more days of 'mental preparation' far as possible..enjoy all adventures!!willie xx