June 1, 2013. Rodeo Chico, Bolivia.


By Saturday we were ready for a hot shower and electricity. All the locals we talked to said Totora was only a few hours walk up the river valley. Totora was our nearest town with access to the main road, hostels with hot showers, and a very meager internet connection. It is also the reason we are building the bridge, to provide an access point between Copachuncho and Totora during the rainy season. Wanting to know what life is like for these commuters we decided it would be fun to make a day hike out of it and packed our bags for the trek. I needed to get into Cochabamba for better internet access so I packed my bag to the brim with my computer and camera gear for the off chance that I would end up joining the University of Michigan team for some extra documentation. 


We started off early at a brisk pace but I quickly fell behind due to my large bag and frequent stops to take photos. I told the team to go on ahead without me and I’ll catch up. I wasn’t too worried since we had a decent road to follow and the valley was pretty well defined. All alone now I started to get a little anxious when after an hour the road disappeared into a riverbed with no clear sign of a path. I knew to head up the river but once I came to a fork in the valley I knew this trek had just become a little riskier. Streams came down from both forks and I couldn’t see a path or footprints anywhere in sight. I knew a wrong turn could put me hours out into the Bolivian wilderness without much water or food. Something in my gut told me to head left; maybe the water was flowing a little bit stronger from this direction. I took a deep breath, adjusted my overweight backpack and plodded up the river in my flip-flops, hoping luck was on my side.


After a few hours hiking upstream through what definitely did not seem like the correct path to Totora I began asking directions. A few farmers pointed me up to the top of a steep ridge where a road would take me the rest of the way. I was a little desperate by this time since I had run out of my one bottle of water so I filled up in the river trusting my gut to withstand the bacteria. I slogged my heavy bag up the hill in the hot sun, coca filling my cheek and giving me strength. Once on the ridge I began walking north on what seemed like an endlessly ascending dirt road.


A couple hours later luck came to bless me again when two little girls met me on the side of the road and let me fill my water bottle from their pileta. As night began to fall I came to the outskirts of a small village. My elation was short lived when, as I drew closer, I saw only small scattered mud huts instead of the grand old architecture of Totora. A friendly lady told me I had arrived in Rodeo Chico and pointed me to a parade where I could hopefully catch a ride. Again, to my luck, a small family took me in, fed me, and instructed me to wait until 8pm for a bus that would take me to Cochabamba for only 15 Bolivianos. I arrived at my hostel at midnight and collapsed for the next couple of days, my body aching and recovering.

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Blog Archive

Chari Chari, Bolivia
"Una Vez Más"

2013.06.30: Cochabamba, Bolivia

Las Cruces, Bolivia
"Seguro Travesía"

2013.06.21: Copachuncho, Bolivia
"Duke/CU Bridge Fiesta"


Palca, Bolivia
"U-M Bridge Fiesta"

Rodeo Chico, Bolivia

2013.05.31: Copachuncho, Bolivia
"Regresar a Bolivia"

La Paz, Bolivia
"Bridging Cultures"