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Holidays in Bolivia

Understanding Bolivia

History

Bolivia, named after independence fighter Simon Bolivar, broke away from Spanish rule in 1825; much of its subsequent history has consisted of a series of nearly 200 coups and counter-coups Comparatively democratic civilian rule was established in the 1980s, but leaders have faced difficult problems of deep-seated poverty, social unrest, and drug production Current goals include attracting foreign investment, strengthening the educational system, and waging an anti-corruption campaign

Climate

Bolivia's climate varies with altitude from humid and tropical to cold and semiarid In most parts of the country winters are dry and summers are somewhat wet Despite its tropical latitude, the altitude of cities like La Paz keeps things cool, and warm clothing is advised year-round


Talking in Bolivia

Bolivia has 37 official languages - more than any other country in the world, of which Spanish often called Castellano, Quechua, and Aymara are the main ones The others are In rural areas, many people do not speak Spanish Nevertheless, you should be able to get by with some basic Castellano Bolivia is one of the best places in which to learn or practice your Spanish because of their very clean, deliberate accent There are many options for studying Spanish in Bolivia, and they are usually very good often, the program includes a very good homestay component

What to do in Bolivia

  • The Death Road:from La Cumbre to Coroico A mountainbike tour of 64km where you'll be able to see the diversity of Bolivia Leave from La Cumbre at 5000mts, in a cold and windy environment, and get to Coroico, in a wet and tropical environment

Buying stuff in Bolivia

Foreign currency

It can be difficult to change money other than euros and US dollars, even currency from neighboring countries! You might find more flexible exchange offices at airports, but be prepared for service fees and poor exchange rates

The national currency is the boliviano As of January 2010, the exchange rate is generally Bs697/$USD Bills come in denominations of 200, 100, 50, 20, and 10; coins are in 5, 2, and 1 bolivianos, and 50, 20, and you will find sometimes 10 centavos 1/100 of a boliviano Bills larger than Bs20 can be hard to break, but a quick phone call or internet session at a Punto Entel see Contact, below will usually get you change

Currency can be exchanged for US dollars and most South American currencies at casa de cambio agencies or street vendors Expect to negotiate for a favorable exchange rate, as most vendors will try to make money off a tourist

US dollars are widely accepted in hotels, tourist shops, and for large purchases

Food and eating in Bolivia

Coca leaves

Coca has been part of Andean culture for centuries, and chewing is still very common and perfectly legal in Bolivia You should be able to buy a big bag of dried leaves at the local market Coca is a stimulant, and it also suppresses hunger Chewing a wad of leaves for a few minutes should bring slight numbness to your lips and throat Remember the slogan printed on souvenir T-shirts: Coca no es Cocaina "The coca leaf is not cocaine" But cocaine most definitely is an illegal drug Remember this, only chew the leaf; if you eat the coca leaf you will get a very sick stomach

The cuisine of Bolivia might be called the original "meat and potatoes" -- the latter locally called papas from the Quechua were first cultivated by the Inca before spreading throughout the world The most common meat is beef, though chicken and llama are also easily found Pork is relatively common Deep frying chicharron is a common method of cooking all sorts of meat, and fried chicken is a very popular quick dish; at times the smell permeates the streets of Bolivian cities Guinea pigs cuy and rabbits conejo are eaten in rural areas, though you can sometimes find them in urban restaurants as well A common condiment served with Bolivian meals is llajhua, a spicy sauce similar to Mexican salsa

Some notable Bolivian dishes:

  • Pique a lo macho - grilled chunks of meat in a slightly spicy sauce with tomatoes and onion, on potatoes
  • Silpancho - beef pounded to a thin, plate-sized patty, served on a bed of rice and potatoes, with a fried egg on top Similar to wiener schnitzel

Street food and snacks:

  • Anticucho - Beef hearts grilled on a skewer, served with potatoes and a spicy corn sauce
  • Salchipapa - Thinly sliced sausage fried with potatoes
  • Choripan - Chorizo spicy sausage sandwich, served with grilled onions and lots of sauce

Breakfast desayuno typically consists of any of several of meat-filled buns:

  • Salteña - A baked bun filled with meat and potatoes in a slightly sweet or spicy sauce Be careful when you take a bite, as the sauce will drip all over!
  • Tucumana - Like a salteña but fried
  • Empanada - Similar to a saltena, often filled with cheese as well as meat
  • Cuñape - A small roll filled with cheese, similar to Brazilian pão de queijo The bread is made from cassava flour

Many people also start off the day with some concoction involving fruit:

  • Ensalada de frutas - Many different fruits chopped in a bowl of yogurt Very filling Some stalls may have honey, nuts or gelatin on top, if you like

Drinking in Bolivia

Juice bars appear at most markets Shakes either with water or milk are 2-3Bs Locals can be seen to drink Vitaminico an egg, beer and sugar concoction or "Vitima" which includes coca leaves

  • Licuado - Water or milk blended with your favorite fruit combination A big spoonful of sugar will be added unless you specifically ask them not to Try the milk and papaya licuado
  • Vitaminico - Don't ask what's in here Many fruits, milk, sugar, a shot of beer, and, if you wish, a whole egg with shell
  • Mocochinchi - A drink made by brewing peaches and spices together in water Very good but some people are turned off by the shriveled peach which is typically served with each glass
  • Api - A traditional corn base drink usually found in the open-air markets If you didn't know it was corn you'd never guess it though because this stuff is good


Alcohol

Bolivia's traditional alcoholic drink is chicha, a whitish, sour brew made from fermented corn and drunk from a hemispherical bowl fashioned from a hollowed gourd round-bottomed so you can't put it down It's customary to spill a bit of chicha on the ground before and after drinking it as an offering to Pachamama, the Inca earth godess

  • Singani is a grape liquor that's mixed with Sprite or ginger ale with lime garnish to make a cocktail called chuflay
  • There are a number of local beers, the largest being Paceña and its high-end brand Huari El Inca is a very sweet low-alcohol beer Orange Cocktails are a popular drink too!

Accommodation in Bolivia

Offering a favorable exchange for Western tourists, lodging can be found at very reasonable prices throughout the country, from hostels to luxury hotels During a 3 week trip in 2003 I stayed in hostals and the going rate per night was never more than the equivalent of US $ 350

  • wwwBoliviaHostelscom Bolivia Hostels and Hotels Bolivia http://wwwboliviahostelscom Is the largest bolivian site offering budget accommodation in Bolivia, tours, city maps and free online reservations is available

Cities in Bolivia

abapo  achacachi  aiquile  arani  ascension  atocha  bermejo  betanzos  boyuibe  buena vista  camargo  camiri  capinota  caracollo  caranavi  challapata  charagua  chimore  chulumani  cliza  cobija  cochabamba  colomi  colquechaca  colquiri  comarapa  concepcion  copacabana  coripata  coroico  cotoca  el carmen  el torno  entre rios  eucaliptus  guanay  guayaramerin  huanuni  irpa irpa  jorochito  la belgica  la guardia  lahuachaca  la paz  limoncito  llallagua  los negros  machacamarca  mairana  mapiri  mineros  mizque  monteagudo  montero  oruro  padilla  pailon  patacamaya  poopo  portachuelo  potosi  puerto pailas  puerto quijarro  puerto suarez  punata  quime  reyes  riberalta  robore  rurrenabaque  samaipata  san borja  san carlos  san ignacio  san javier  san joaquin  san jose  san julian  san lorenzo  san matias  san miguel  san pedro  san rafael  san ramon  san ramon  santa barbara  santa rita  santa rosa  santa rosa  sipe sipe  sorata  sucre  tarabuco  tarata  tarija  tipuani  totoral  trinidad  tupiza  uncia  urubicha  uyuni  villamontes  villazon  viloco  warnes  yacuiba  

What do you think about Bolivia?

How expensive is Bolivia?
(1 BOB = 0.14 USD)
Meal in inexpensive restaurant16.65 BOB
3-course meal in restaurant (for 2)99.5 BOB
McDonalds meal42.18 BOB
Local beer (0.5 draft)10.76 BOB
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 18.13 BOB
Cappuccino12.31 BOB
Pepsi/Coke (0.33 bottle)5.74 BOB
Water (0.33 bottle)5.05 BOB
Milk (1l)6.33 BOB
Fresh bread (500g)6.22 BOB
White Rice (1kg)7.97 BOB
Eggs (12) 10.65 BOB
Local Cheese (1kg) 33.3 BOB
Chicken Breast (1kg) 24.2 BOB
Apples (1kg) 11.79 BOB
Oranges (1kg) 4.82 BOB
Tomato (1kg) 5.88 BOB
Potato (1kg) 7.52 BOB
Lettuce (1 head) 4.83 BOB
Water (1.5l)7.07 BOB
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) 33.09 BOB
Domestic Beer (0.5 bottle)9.89 BOB
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 18.12 BOB
Cigarettes11.73 BOB
One way local bus ticket2.21 BOB
Monthly pass for bus224.83 BOB
Taxi start7.2 BOB
Taxi 1km7.92 BOB
Taxi 1hour waiting33.74 BOB
Gasoline (1 liter) 4.17 BOB
Utilities for a "normal" apartment337.11 BOB
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) 69.39 BOB
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