Monday, 20 September 2010

A few photos from Cochabamba

As my time in Cocha draws to a close, here's a few photos from the flickr account I just set up. I thought i'd include a few tracks from another friend from home, George Lenton, so you can watch and listen.

Next month is going to be a whirlwind tour through Peru hitting all the major sights, as I travel with one of my best mates Fred for 3 weeks. Really looking forward to that, because it will be great to see him before I move to Aus for a while.

Another thing coming up soon is a post about this Friday night. I'm going to be djing in a club here in Cochabamba called flowm, we'll see how dubstep, crunky house grooves and drum and bass goes down in Bolivia!


 Spanish Sahara - George Lenton remix by georgelenton

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Travel lessons from a frutas ensalada

My favourite place to get breakfast in Cochabamba is the Mercardo de Comida, full of great cheap food, bustling with people, delicious smells and the sound of the stall owners trying to entice you to try their sopas.

I must have tried almost every frutas ensalada vendor in the market by now, for those who fancy making the journey its on calle  25 de Mayo between Sucre and Jordan.

Here are a few shots of the breaky!

Everyone has their own preferences, I prefer durazno yogurt (peach flavour, excuse the spelling) I like to get a lot of the helatina (the red jelly stuff) and most of all I hate it when the vendor tries to bulk my ensalada out with too much papaya and bananna. However, as the most feared ensalada critic in town, most of them know better than to try that shit on me by now. The best stalls are the ones on the far left of the market with proper seating areas.

Where am I going with this though, I guess the thing about staying in one place for a while - at least a month - is that you take the time to find these kinds of spots and places you love. You make friends with more of the locals, you get to explore little surrounding villages which you might not ordinarily visit on the typical trail - like our Sunday Chicha trip to a nearby village called Tarata.

Chicha is an alcoholic (2-3%) drink made from maize, it is fermented and served directly from the big earthenwear urns shown above and its a kind of straw yellow colour. At first I didn't really like the taste, as it could be described as a little sour, like a cloudy cider, but there seems to be a correlation between the amount you consume and the enjoyment you derive from each sip! Usually when you go to one of these Chicherias you're given a big jug of Chicha, along with one coconut shell, which you top up and pass around the table to share. Its very different to drinking wine or beer, I felt warm, relaxed and sociable after we'd had a few glasses.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

How to spot a fake 100b note

Something I am relatively proficient at after my weekend in La Paz - although I still returned to Cochabamba with two of them - is spotting fake 100 boliviano notes. I certainly won't fall for it again... in the words of George Bush, "Fool me once..."

Here's what a real one looks like...

And here's what a fake one looks like...


I actually got one of them out of an ATM... not much you can do about that, but the second one should have been easy to avoid. I asked a taxi driver if he had change for 100, of course he did... just long enough to swap my note with one of his fakes, hand it back and then re-inform me that he actually didn't have the change after all.

Sounds pretty schoolboy in hindsight, but the moral of the story is you have to show them that you're checking your note before you hand over, and make sure you check the one you get back.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Volunteering in Cochabamba & Textile Presentation

As some of you already know, I've decided to stay in Cochabamba for a month. The weather is great every day as its at a lower altitude than most of Bolivia and everything is absolutely dirt cheap! Me and my mate Rich joined a gym, and membership for the month was £5, breakfast is 50p every day... more on that in another post; I'm currently trying to hunt down the best frutas ensalada in Cochabamba.

So aside from pumping I-ron and trying to improve my terrible Spanish, I've been volunteering for a small textiles company here. They only have around 8 bolivian ladies working for them, sewing a variety of alpaca products by hand, and they have been going for around 15 years. 

I have just finished my first week, and I mainly did market research to determine whether they could attract designers from abroad and began brainstorming ideas for a company website - something they desperately need in order to attract foreign business. Anyway, my first presentation is embedded below, check it out!

One more thing for those of you who that are interested, the link to the foundation that arranged my internship - Sustainable Bolivia - is here. Thoroughly recommend them. You have the option of staying in one of their 4 houses here in Cochabamba, or for a small fee you can stay with a host family. Personally I opted to stay in one of their houses because there are some great people here and secondly, I dont think the poor Bolivian family would appreciate my nocturnal weekend hours.