Dancing With Dinosaurs

As I sit at my desk in my small empty classroom, surrounded by skewed tables and chairs, leftover crumbs scattered over the well worn carpet, and a sense hanging in the air, like a bad smell, that this room wasn’t long ago filled with screaming rowdy children who will absolutely positively NOT learn what the term “sit down” means! I can’t help but try to think which teacher from my high school days I probably most resemble. I of course don’t mean who I physically look like, but in terms of how I approach my day to day job. Am I the laid back “I don’t give a crap” CDT teacher? Or am I the screaming psycho French teacher with the massive vein in his forehead?

You couldn't beat a good Saltena!
You couldn’t beat a good Saltena!

As I type this I can hear non-stop bedlam in the classroom next door. High pitched squeals of excitement followed by some sort of tribal drumming. Perhaps there is some sort of ancient sacrifice taking place. I swear if I was to walk through to see what was going on I might actually be greeted with the sight of the little maniacs dangling the smallest kid from a rope above a boiling pot of oil and goat’s blood. It’s easy to see how years of this could turn some people psycho.

Speaking of blood, I had another visit to the dentist this morning. A thorough clean of the old teeth by using some sort of high pressure oxygen jet thing. Now I know how a car tyre feels when it gets blown up at the garage. Great for my teeth but it does cause your gums to open up a fair bit. Apparently it was normal however having spat so much blood out I did almost expect to be given a biscuit and a cup of tea at the end, kind of like what happens when you donate. In hindsight I’d have probably turned away the biscuit, lips clamped firmly shut. As for hot tea swishing through my war torn gums? Forget it!

In other news I’m fresh back from another trip to Sucre. Somehow I managed another uncomfortable journey on a bus. I’m beginning to severely detest buses. The trip itself was fantastic. Plenty of food, good company with mi amigo Sergio, and above all else, dinosaurs!

During this particular weekend in Sucre, it just so happened that ‘The Entrada Universitaria’ was going on. A pretty large parade type event featuring many of the well known, and not so well known traditional dances of Bolivia. Forty-five to be exact. This allowed for a very long but interesting and diverse procession. To give you an idea it began at around 3pm Bolivian time (this means it actually began at around 4pm) and by the time midnight was approaching it was still going! That’s a lot of dancing!

Some awesome dancing involved
Some awesome dancing involved

The next day it was dinosaur time! I will confess the tiny 6 year old me who sat gazing up at giant lizards at the cinema back in 1993 (tbh I spent most of it with my head buried in my Dad’s arm through being utterly petrified) was being brought back to life. In other words the 6 year old me kind of resembled the dinosaurs in the film. Except I was never extinct, and I don’t plan on eating tourists who had only came for a lovely weekend away. Fortunately for this lovely weekend, I didn’t have the ordeal of being petrified to go with the experience.

After a short argument with the taxi driver who claimed he had made a mistake and was in fact undercharging me and Sergio we stepped out into the hot bright dusty car park. Having refused to back down with the mathematically challenged driver he had reluctantly accepted the agreed price and sped off in the huff. Onwards to the entrance booth where it turned out locals got in for 10bs whilst tourists had to pay 30bs. “Two local tickets please” my ever increasingly useful amigo requested, in Espanol obviously. Without so much as a glance towards the pale looking white man who was blatantly not a local, she willingly obliged. Score! I carefully slid my recently acquired fake Bolivian ID back in to my wallet then quickly skipped through the turnstile, offering a sheepish “Gracias” in my blatantly not very local Espanol as I did so.

The dinosaur park, although small, was brilliant. It’s the type of place I will simply never grow too old to visit. Huge constructions of what these amazing animals once looked like complete with sound effects, and all for an entrance fee that cost less than a pound! As well as being able to freely wander amongst all the sculptures under the hot sun, we were also afforded a free hour long walking tour down to the fossilised dinosaur footprints that stood at the foot of the hill the park itself was situated on. These things were incredible! At 65 million years old it was nothing short of jaw-droppingly brilliant to actually be able to stand before real traces of dinosaurs. I gawked at the wall, imagining them walking over what was once the muddy edge of a lake, tracking their every step. Up, down and across the peppered wall they went. Truly an incredible sight!

It's huuuge!
It’s huuuge!

Back to Sucre for a Brazilian style lunch known as ‘Feijoada’. Who would of thought a Scotsman would enjoy a fried banana so much? In the taxi heading towards the depot that would take us to Potosi we were gifted with some sly advice. Apparently you can go to an alternative pick up point that only the locals seem to know exists, and with this new location comes a far cheaper 20bs trip home instead of the 40 or 50bs one may expect to pay. So we waited, and waited, and waited. The odd bus arrived but nothing going to Potosi. In fact the only real activity we were witnessing were more taxis arriving, and with them more people! It wasn’t long before there was a large group waiting, scurrying back and forth as more potentially empty taxis and buses pulled up along various stretches of the street. Suddenly, after only a short 45 minutes or so, along came a bus with a small sign at the front which read ‘Potosi’.

There was a sudden stampede of feet as everyone rushed to the open door. The bus was full but don’t let stop you getting on it. Somehow we battled to the front and enquired if there was space for two more on this fine vehicle. “Si” answered the driver confidently. “Where?” I thought. Just then, a tiny space appeared before me on one of the steps that led on to the bus. After clambering on ahead of the blood thirsty like crowd, I sardined myself into the small space “I guess this will have to do.” Now moving sideways and partly squished, I managed to catch sight of a sign at the side of the road as it whizzed by. “154km” it read. Maybe once, just once, I can experience a trip to Sucre that doesn’t involve a bus journey from hell!

I was practically on the driver's lap
I was practically on the driver’s lap

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