© 2017, USA

    Bolivia.  I traveled to Bolivia on my first trip to South America 1984. Crossing South America, by train from São Paulo, I was among many international travelers, "viajeros", who met on the train and were staying in the same economy hotels and youth hostels. Most of us "gringos" were following the South American Handbook , to guide us on the way. At the western end of the Brazilian train line, to Corumba, we got visas and vacinations, and crossed the border into Bolivia. In the nearby town of Porto Suárez, at the eastern terminus of the Bolivian railway, we boarded the train. which would cross the plains to Santa Cruz de la Sierra. The tracks were so rough and irregular that picture taking was almost impossible. The train cars were filled with farmers, villagers, and soldiers. There was no drinking water, and only warm sodas and warm beer were to be had. In a kitchen car, like a cookhouse on a ranch, food was prepared and delivered to your seat in a bowl with a spoon. Burlap sacks, containing foodstuffs and other things, blocked the aisles almost everywhere, making it difficult to walk. A small bicycle was stuffed vertically, in the bathroom. The train stopped several times during the night, for hours at a time. In the small towns along the tracks, villagers sold food and drinks at the stations. Some travelers rode on top of the coaches. The legend is that the name "tren del la meurte", death train, came from people falling off. When we finally arrived in Santa Cruz, there was a transport strike, so we hired a jeep to take us into town. After a few days we decided to board the plane to La Paz. With the buses still on strike, we walked to the airport early in the morning and boarded a plane to the worlds highest capital city. (5,000 meters) I had "soroche", altitude sickness, for a week. With the help of some medicine and chewing cocoa leaves from the market, my body finally adjusted to the altitude. After 10 days of exploring La Paz and and the nearby snow capped mountains, we boarded a bus, to continue our voyage to the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Copacabana, on the shores of Lake Titikaka, and then continued on to Peru.             Photographs and text by John O'Heron  ©2017

Puerto Suárez, Bolivia, 1984

Tihuanaco Inka Ruins, 1984

"Tren de la Muerte," Puerto Suárez to Santa Cruz

Catedral San Lorenzo, Santa Cruz de la Serra