After spending one night in the Bolivian border town of San Matías, I stepped out of my shanty hotel and hopped on a moto taxi for the bus station. San Francisco should really adopt the idea, moto taxis could transform the city, although I suppose climate and safety precautions are whole different stories in SF. The 6 hour bus ride to San Ignacio was my most exciting yet- speeding down a brick red dirt road, swaying back and forth with warm air blowing in all the open windows. At first, I just noticed the beauty- we passed through marsh lands filled with graceful birds and rumbled over creeks with rickety wooden bridges. Then, as the bumps and swaying increased, I began to fear that December 21, 2012 may actually be the end of the world for those of us on the bus. But as I clutched onto my arm rest and let out “whoas” with every stomach drop, my fellow passengers just napped and calmly breast fed their babies and some laughed at me, so I laughed right along and tried to enjoy the ride. It was only after a huge bump that lifted us out of our seats and caused children to scream that the driver slowed down a little… momentarily. I even saw a local look for a sear belt- I had looked a long time ago, there were none.
Luckily we arrived safely in San Ignacio, where I needed to stop to situate my visa before the holiday weekend (the border town of San Matias wasn’t able to issue one for me, so they sent me onward). San Ignacio is a beautiful little town, with deep red dirt roads and a western feel, everyone was extra friendly and donkeys roamed the streets. I was so pleased to meet my first Bolivian cowboys, adorned in tucked in plaid shitrts and cowboy boots. Several moto taxis and finished errands later, I caught the night bus to Santa Cruz de la Sierra, a bigger city where I’ll be spending Christmas. Lucky for me, the cheapest bus was the one without AC, meaning the windows opened and I could watch the night pass with a cool breeze.
Leaving San Ignacio, fireflies lit up the darkness, fluttering and filling the fields with magic below a sky dotted with lightening. I love Bolivia already.
Colombia and Brazil felt more like holidays, but Bolivia feels different somehow, like I belong here, like it´s essential. That could be the lack of sleep talking (I´ve traveled over 2,100 km or 1,300 miles via nearly 70 hours of bus in 6 days, which feels like a whole lot), but nevertheless, I´m enchanted.