What a fun word to say. Cochabamba was our next stop after La Paz, reached by a 13+ hour overnight bus. This was one of those trips that you are glad your parents don’t know you are doing because they would certainly worry. The roads in Bolivia, for the most part, are unpaved and as the area is mountainous and the buses are old, it makes for a long, bumpy, loud, cliff-hugging ride. We made it in one piece.
Cochabamba is a university town with a great buzz and lots of young people around. The town is also known for the HUGE Jesus statue that watches over residents from a nearby hill. We enjoyed wandering around the campus and also the main prado with lots of different restaurants and shops. And of course, we visited the statue.
As I’ve been browsing and acquiring small gifts for myself and others throughout our travels, Ted had remained purchase-less, until Cochabamba. Before we even left the US he had considered the possibility of acquiring a charango while traveling in the northern Andean countries. A charango is small, stringed instrument similar to a ukelele that is featured in a lot of traditional music in this region. A good friend of ours, Dave Griffith, actually studied abroad in Cochabamba, Bolivia in his undergrad days and came home with a charango that Ted has admired for a long time. With Dave’s help via email, Ted was able to return to the same shop where Dave had bought his charango over 10 years earlier and get one from the same guy. Craziness!
So now Ted is quite entertained as he teaches himself how to play with his new toy. And as it turns out, it has become quite a conversation starter among local folks who are intrigued by the gringo who is interested in learning to play, and they have happily taught him a few things. Perfecto!