Having spent almost six weeks in Peru, arriving in Bolivia felt kind of like visiting an eccentric old aunt. You love her, but you have absolutely no idea why she does half the things she does.
The country, one of the poorest in South America, is still a step behind its neighbours in catering for tourists; you`re lucky if you find toilet paper in your hostel and if you get a hot shower you´ve hit the jackpot. The people too seem less concerned about getting your dollar. In Peru if you walk into a shop you can expect the hard sell, with owners even following you down the street lowering the price if you walk away. But here they barely raise their eyes from the telenovela they are inevitably watching and market stalls are often unattended, which means you actually have to hunt down someone to sell you something.
But its these quirks and eccentricities that make Bolivia such an interesting country. I`ve met so many travellers over the last week or so who have declared Bolivia to be their favourite country in South America, a bit statement when you consider the competition.
In the week that I´ve been here I´ve been to see Cholitas (women who wear the traditional Bolivian outfits of long pleated skirts and small bowler hats) wrestling, I`ve seen a faux Eiffel Tower (no one seems to be clear as to why it`s here) and I´ve been transported to see dinosaur footprints (real ones) in a Dino Truck which looked like it had been borrowed from the Jurassic Park props cupboard.
I`ve still to see Bolivia´s trophy piece – Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat – but so far I like what I`ve seen.