I met an Argentinian lady at a hostel. Grace. She likes practising her English because she used to teach it and had an American boyfriend but hasn’t the opportunity to use it regularly. She was also going to Bolivia at 930 on the morning I was going. I booked the 830 bus because I figured the immigration queue will be terrible.
On the morning, I saw my bus leave at 800. I couldn’t run fast with the shit I was carrying. The ticket lady smiled apologetically and said something about the bus boy wanting to leave early. She returned me my money and told me to get the 930 bus. Fun.
Ok now a bit of context. I’m on day 55 of a solo trip around South America and day 30 or so of having to speak some Spanish regularly. I’m also suffering some altitude-related nasal problem where I’m bleeding from my nose and perpetually tearing.
Grace shows up for her — and now my — bus and we have a polite chat. We talk about where we’re heading to and she changes her plans to follow me to Potosi, which she hasn’t heard of instead of Tarija which she knows is a lovely place. She feels safer travelling with me. Me — Asian girl, probably 25 (everyone thinks Asians are 16–25), speaks very little Spanish as far as she knows and pretty much holding a couple rounds of toilet roll to my face the entire time I’m talking to her.
Safer with me.
We have a conversation that goes something like this –
G: Why Potosi?
Me: I want to go to Uyuni but the salt flats are closed for this Dakar Rally race on some days so I have to do a detour. Also I hear you can book the tour from Potosi so it’s easy.
G: What’s in Potosi?
Me: Mines. It’s quite cool. There’s a tour to see the silver mines.
Me: Minas. (Mines in Spanish)
G: Ahhhh minas. I don’t like.
Me: Uh ok.
G: Why don’t you go to Tarija?
Me: I don’t want to?
G: It’s beautiful. I don’t know what’s in Potosi.
Me: Mines. The mines.
G: I don’t know. Why don’t you go to Uyuni?
Me: Because the salt flats are closed…