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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Tarija, Bolivia. A quick visit turns into a two week stay - along with a visit to the dentist.

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This blog is a little backward... bear with me!

We have spent a while in Tarija, but this is our experience over many days.
We have blogged on other individual day s earlier.
Our first night we arrived was after our mini bus ride from Villamontes - so please see that blog.
We were so tired.
We had checked out 3 hostels, and there was either no-one there, or in the case of MiraFlores, it had bedbugs so we moved on - gross!
We were so fortunate that we went to check in down the road from MiraFlores at a hostel called Zeballos - which looked pretty good for the money, but the owners of Zeballos Plaza Hotel were there (relatives) and they spoke English, and offered to match the price, and give us a great room at their hotel.  They loaded our bags in their 4WD and drove us to the hotel.
The great thing about Zeballos Plaza Hotel, was that the rooms were large, and they had an en-suite for 150 Bolivianos, and they were right off the square - just few buildings away. And with a supermarket close by.
So once we got there, we went to XOXO on the square for dinner.
We had a fabulous night.
The food and wine was perfect.
They had free wi-fi.
(Sadly we returned here other nights and they refused to make the same dish, and the service was terrible - it embarrassed us with our friends).

Next day we went to the fantastic markets.
We bought bags of fruit, and fresh nuts and vegetables.

That night we were back at the square.
It is a pretty and well lit square - in fact there are two in the centre.

The fountain changes coloured lights, so we often came here for a bit of fun.

The next morning we woke in our hotel to see the sunrise over the barren distant hills, and by the church in the next street - so gorgeous!

Up the road from our hotel is a beautiful church and square - well worth the walk up.
Along the way are many souvenirs shops, and a night market.
There is also a well hidden clothes market in town - you will need to ask to find it.
It took me well over a week to locate it!

We were fortunate that during our stay the Santa Anita festival for children was on.
This street festival was filled with sweet food, and toys.
My son enjoyed the chocolate marshmallows.

The street festival was a mix of traditional and modern villagers.

What was most interesting was the ladies selling sweet drinks. But what freaked us out, was the number of wasps or bees that were being stirred into the pots.

Many an old lady can be seen in the traditional clothes of Tarija.  They seem well fed.

What surprised us most was the fortune tellers.
They put liquid on your hands, and make you drop a ladle of hot silver into a pot of cold water and it turns into a molten block - from here your fortune and future is told - I doubt it!

Next was the yummy ice-cream - it is not frozen, but it is really nice.

In the central square in the day, you can find all sorts of promotions, and here are some traditional worship dancers.  A dog joined in the dance for a while too.

One of the things we had to do was go to the dentist.
My son had lost a few teeth on the trip, and I had managed to chip teeth and need a filling.
Although we didn't speak Spanish, this dentist was fabulous!

Beside giving my son the all clear, he treated and gave us fluoride.

One of the highlights was to get to know the hotel owners.
One night Grandma and the Grand-daughter were making empanadas.

I was given a lesson in how to make them - heavy concentration, and I think I did OK.
We all sat around and ate them later - yum!

Opposite the hotel is a dinosaur and fossil museum.
We did an "un-schooling" lesson here - I learnt so much!

I think this was the best fossil museum I have been to, to date.

Another night we met a lovely family - originally from Montana and now living in Alaska.
We met them twice the next day and shared meals.

It was lovely, as their 11 year old son Logan was a hit with my son.

Then on our last weekend we had a treat.
We were invited by the hotel owners to go to a food festival.
When we got there it was a bit slow.
So they took us to a hidden back yard restaurant.
Now this is a treat and if you get to Tarija, I would ask to find this place.
Only on a Saturday! And fish is the specialty of this whiz chef.

So we had an early social start to the weekend.

It was lovely as their son and my son were firm friends now.

Then the treats started.  I was given a track suit from the champion racket ball playing owner.  The guys dedicated and sung me songs. Wow - it was such a special time.

Here I am being serenaded - such fun!

 The party just kept getting bigger and better. Old men sat and played games. Families ate and drank and socialised. Friends sung and danced.

Later that day we returned for more singing and guitar playing at the hotel.

Recommendations:
Los Velotes  
Another restaurant we went to 3 times, and one we definitely would recommend is Los Velotes - Mexican. Calle General Trigo - 3 blocks down  and on the same side as Hotel Zeballos.
the food is fabulous. They make a wonderful rice drink too.  And the prices are great!  Fabulously clean, friendly, and English speaking. We definitely recommend them!
Zeballos Plazo Hotel 
Definitely have made a firm friendship and love the service we had here
on General Trigo. Ask for the upstairs rooms - they are great!

This blog could go on and on.
We have nearly been travelling one year, and I have to say Tarija is a highlight of my trip.
A gorgeous town. Slow internet, and a slow and lazy life.  Fabulous markets - you have to ask as many are on at different days (I went to 3 different ones in Barrios).
I have a whole new wardrobe of clothes.
Come to Tarija.
It really is a place you will love - including the warm weather, and warm friendship!

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