Gutierrez, Bolivia
Date: Lodging: Distance: Total:
24/08/2001 Hotel 24 de Septiembre 327 KM 206293 KM

PHOTOS
 
In our trailer, we have a map with our trip marked in ink so we can explain our trip visually. The townspeople of Gutierrez listened attentively as I showed them our passage over the last 32 months.

Children of Gutierrez


 
Refrigeration in Gutierrez

Fried chicken, potatoes and salad sold by street vendors in the small, simple town of Gutierrez for about $US.80 per plate.


 
Jim smiled after finally finding food and beer after a long, hard day of driving.

Our room for the night was behind Senora Lucha Bargas’ kitchen.


 
An extended family in Camiri

Learning to walk


 
Hola! They peek from behind the bricks protecting their home courtyard from the dirt flying off the nearby-unpaved road.

Bathtub close-up


 
We stopped in Camiri to ask directions, since the road to Santa Cruz – the largest city in Bolivia – isn't marked. Here we met a friendly group of women who were watching the young ones enjoy the bathtub.

There’s a 200-kilometer stretch of unpaved road on Route 9 leading from Yacuiba to Santa Cruz. That stretch took us seven hours.


 
We encountered five police checks of our passports, drivers’ licenses and vehicle papers within 200 kilometers. When we see the dropped bar, we know we're in for many minutes of senseless formalities.

Many children can be found working the makeshift stalls on the streets of Yacuiba.


 
A woman, who embraces the western notion of fashion, and another woman, who clings to tradition via dress.

Local indigenous women carry their babies on their backs as women have done for ages.


 
Sneakers of every make, but are they genuine?

Yacuiba is a paradise for shoppers looking for quantity not quality.


 
Shoe polishers are found everywhere in the world.

Since Bolivia is much cheaper than Argentina, Yacuiba is a tourist destination for those seeking inexpensive clothing, jewelry and perfume – much of it sold along the streets.


 
Fresh juice stands along the main street of Yacuiba, early morning


 
 
PAIGE'S NOTES
 
24 August 2001 – Upon departing Yacuiba, we traveled about 200-kilometers over paved two-lane roads and were stopped at five police checkpoints, where, in large, aged books, our international drivers’ license numbers, vehicle plates and passport information were noted. Nothing ever will come of these books besides serving as dust collectors! Granted, the ridiculous, time-consuming process does offer jobs. We also paid about US$20 in tolls for both cars during that 200-kilometer trip, and I assure you the charges far outweighed the caliber of the roads.

Mid-afternoon we arrived at the dreaded 150-kilometer unpaved leg about which several Bolivians had warned us. The rocky, bumpy, narrow road, with not one sign at any crossroads or v-junction, was worse than I expected. Over the course of four hours, we drove no faster than 30 kilometers per hour. Near nightfall we reached the simple town of Gutierrez, home to a few hundred people with a central square, with a row of food stalls stocked with cooked chicken, beef kebab, rice, potatoes and salad.

In Gutierrez, there are two hotels, but most people I know would call them sheds. The first hotel was filthy with only a sheet as a divider, so I was extremely hopeful going into the second hotel, which turned out to be a couple of rooms in the backyard of Senora Lucha's kitchen and restaurant. Our room consisted of a wooden chair, small table, a single and double bed with no sheets or pillows, and, on the double bed, a mattress so thin the half-inch springs could be felt. A nailed-to-the-wall screen covered the lone window, which had a view of Senora Lucha’s not-so-attractive outdoor kitchen. There was no lock on our door.

I planted our few things inside and Big Mama, as we termed Mrs. Lucha due to her enormous size, came with clean sheets and pillows. I felt relief. Clean sheets can be a luxury at a time like this. I helped Big Mama make the bed and asked for agua (water) to wash my hands and face. She responded by sending her young, sullen teenage son to draw a bucket of water. Big Mama even gave me a wash pan, a tremendous one, to keep my washing water separate from the clean water in the bucket. The bathroom was an outhouse behind the pigs in a pen, ducks, chickens and dogs in the dirt courtyard. The stench of the outhouse was pungent.

Before supper, I washed my face, used the stinking loo and then met Jim in the square for a meal at a metal table with clumsy chairs in front of a chicken stand. Trucks speeding through on the dirt path spread dirt everywhere. Adults and children alike are dirty out here. We ate fried chicken, potatoes and salad, and Jim also tried a little rice. Each plate cost about US$.80. We've had cheap meals before, but I genuinely could not believe how little we were charged. We washed down our food with ice-cold beer supplied by Big Mama’s icebox, one of a couple in town.

While eating, we made friends with the girls frying our chicken, and one of them, who looked to be a child herself, had a couple of adorable little ones. We took Polaroid photos of the toddler boy and girl and their tremendous excitement was contagious drawing a small crowd of townsfolk to eye the photos. These were the first photos the children had ever seen of themselves.

 
VIDEO
AUDIO
 
  Gutierrez (Jim)