Going out for drinks the night before our before a dawn flight, this trip was destined to be an interesting beginning. With an early morning flight at 5.30am meaning an even earlier get up at 3am to be at the airport by 3.30am what better idea than to go out for drinks the night before. As the mojitos kept coming the question was raised “do we pull an all nighter?” With opening of the delicious Malbec luckily we made the decision to set the alarm otherwise there might very well not be a trip to Bolivia. From there the night got a little bit blury and the next thing I know we are waking up at 3am to get ready to catch our flight. Cheers to my ingenious idea of laying my clothes out to wear before we went out. Somehow I must have known the previous evening was destined to be bigger than expected.
We arrived at the airport and checked in for our flight. The lovely attendant behind the desk said that she has checked our luggage all the way to LaPaz. The flight path we had ahead of us was an interesting one with 4 stopovers Santiaigo, Iquique and Arica (Chile) and then finally La Paz.
Fantastic all we have to worry about is getting ourselves through this journey. We managed to catch a couple of winks of sleep whilst waiting for the customs area of the airport to open. As we took off down the runway we tried to sleep off the oncoming hangovers that were about to hit our bodies.
Arriving in Chile we realised we have to check into our next flight which means we have to go through customs. Going through customs also means we are ‘technically’ leaving the Santiago airport and officially entering Chile and will have to pay the $95 entry fee visa. Waiting in the customs line time was ticking away our 1.5 hour stopover was slowly disappearing and we haven’t even checked into our flights. With less than 1 hour left on the clock it was time to put on our running shows and make it to check in before it closes. Arriving at the centre point of the checkin desks, left? right? Which way to go…we went left but should have gone right. Finally we made it to our check in desk with 20 minutes to spare.
Up and away we go again. That excitement was a sure fire way to knock us out of our hangover haze. From here on the process was pretty smooth besides the ancient plane we were flying that at some stages I was actually worried it wouldn’t make it off the run way.
When we arrived in La Paz going through customs was an enjoyable experience with chants and excitement coming from the Chilean football fans. Whilst waiting for our bags to come around the conveyer belt we came to the realisation our baggage did not make it. “Todo bien, todo bien” this happens all the time was the response we received from the airport staff. As we had flown with two different airlines trying to find out the mystery of our lost luggage was like watching two children fighting. Airline 1: “It’s their fault”
Airline 2: “It’s their fault”
Us: “We don’t care whose fault it is just find us our luggage!”
Our original plan for Bolivia was to arrive in La Paz and take a bus to Uyuni that same night ready to start our salt flats tour the following morning. The salt flats is a very cold place this time of year and definitely not a place you would want to travel to with nothing but the clothes on your backs. This meant that we needed to try and change the booking for our bus and tours.
Heading into the downtown area of La Paz was also a little trickier than expected as they were having a massive festival that blocked off every main street. There was nowhere to go, all the taxi driver could do was say good luck. With no map we set off to find our tourist office and for the first time today we were in luck as the taxi driver had managed to drop us in the perfect location without even knowing. Thank you Mr Taxi driver. Now it was time to plead, beg and perform a tear or two in order to persuade the tour company to change all our bookings.