Posted on February 19, 2013
What is a really adventurous way of arriving to Bolivia for the first time? Arriving straight to the carnival in Oruro. After 2.5months traveling in Argentina, Uruguay and Chile, I decided to travel to a new country: Bolivia. My dear friends Rayen and Raul (R&R) talked so much about the carnival that I started to be curious. And coincidently, I saw that there was a local couchsurfer from Oruro, organizing a big event for the community. So everything matched and I decided to go.
Before the carnival I spent a week on the beach in Viňa del Mar with R&R, that felt like a vacation from traveling. Luckily Raul convinced me to buy a flight ticket (through a company that is called PAL) and save my time and energy for the carnival. So I bought a second flight in South America (the price was almost the same as the bus ride) and few hours later I landed in Iquique (Chile). From there I took a direct bus to Oruro…
Big adventure has started and there were also some challenges. I arrived one day in advance before the booked accommodation, I arrived late at night and I arrived direct from the sea level to the altitude of 3700m. Not easy. The first problem became even a bigger problem, as we had to spend 4 hours at the border. The luggage check took forever and I was getting worried of being alone (first time on my trip). As I already learned from months of traveling, being alone forces you to talk to other people. When I looked around I spotted two Chilean guys that looked friendly (ok, this sounds cheesy I know…) It turned out that they have been to the carnival 2 times before and knew some accommodation. I decided to join rather than walking alone at night with my big and small backpack. The accommodation was awful, but the Chilean guys made my day. We just spent few hours together, but had lot of fun. Muchas gracias Diego y Pablo, me divertí mucho con Ustedes!
The next day was the time to meet all 49 couchsurfers that had the same plan as me. All of us wanted to spend the next 4 days in Oruro, celebrating the second biggest carnival in the world. We met in the local school that was rented for us and had a very chilled and nice dinner where we got to know each other. The whole couchsurfing event was organized by Juan Carlos from Oruro. He has been organizing this for the past 5 years and had lot of happy participants. Personally, I think that it is really incredible and I would like to thank Juan Carlos and say that without him and his cousin Gaby we wouldn’t be able to find a cheap and central accommodation, and most importantly, we wouldn’t have met each other – to form a great group of people from all around the world, enjoying the carnival and sharing travel and life stories. Couch surfing rules!
Here is a short video, describing the atmosphere from the warm-up party 🙂
As I mentioned before there were some initial challenges, mainly the fact that Oruro is at approximately 3710 meters above sea level. Which means that the altitude sickness can hit stronger, because the body is not used to such a quick altitude and climate change. I could really feel it the next morning. I felt strange, not in my skin, not as energetic as usual ☺ and I had also problems with breathing. Luckily, the girls from CS were nice and bought me a coca tea, which became my medicine for the next days.
After one day in Bolivia, I had a place to stay, I knew my partners in the “oruro-carnival” crime and I mostly got rid of the altitude sickness. What came next was the carnival itself 🙂 Bolivia – Part 2: Oruro Carnival