In Cochabamba, we stayed out of town in the Tiquipaya area at Cabańas Las Lilas. Our bus from La Paz got in two hours late at about 8.30pm. We then a right faff with the taxi driver who could not find the hostel and so we didn’t arrive until late. This won’t be an issue from now on thought thanks to downloading the amazing app Maps Me!
When we arrived at the hostel, we were greeted by a beaut of an old English Sheepdog called Locoto (a Bolivian chili pepper) who instantly made us feel at home.
The owners upgraded us to a matrimonial suite with cable TV and we had a lovely room for a great price. The hostel had a huge garden, swimming pool and a big indoor area. On the TV, we managed to get Family Guy and Rocky 3 in English, which was nice!
Cochabamba really surprised us as it ended up being one of our favourite cities. It’s clean, modern and there’s loads to do.
On the first full day in the city, we visited La Cancha market – the biggest in the country and certainly the biggest market we’d ever seen.
It was huge, as big as a small town centre (or bigger even) and sold all sorts of things from clothes, electronics to fruit and veg.
A highlight of our time on Cochabamba included a visit to an old mansion called Palacio Portales, which was built in the early 1900s by a Bolivian man who made his fortune in tin mining, becoming one of the continent’s richest men at the time.
He had the grand house built as a place to retire but unfortunately died en-route back to Bolivia from a business trip in New York.
His children chose to leave the house in the condition it was in the 1920s and we were able to see it with original furniture and decor – all with lots of different European influences.
The gardens were huge and immaculate with and Simón Patiño’s legacy includes a free library on the grounds and regular, free concerts and performances.
Whilst in Cochabamba, we also rode the cable car to the top of the hill of San Cristobal, home to the world’s largest depiction of Christ – though not quite as famous as Rio’s version!
Other highlights include a day spent shopping, where I bought a nice cap that I lost two days later, and a day we spent outside a bar drinking beer after messing about in a video game arcade for a while. Normal stuff.
The best was to get back to the garden of the hostel, relax with a bottle of wine and play frisbee with the dog.
We could’ve stayed in Cochabamba for a lot longer, but it was time to move on to the capital Sucre, to volunteer in a nursery and learn more Spanish!