Posted by: HelenRortvedt | 17 February 2008


    Transportation always makes me laugh.  From TukTuks in Southeast Asia to Trufis in South America, getting around in a developing country is always entertaining.  It’s an integral part of the whole experience.

            In Cochabamba, there are a variety of transportation options available.  Micros are typically old, squat school buses.  More often than not, they are painted red and blue and are given names by their owners, which are proudly displayed in the front windshield, above the route numbers and destinations.  My personal favorite so far was El Señor Van Damme.  A micro runs on a fixed route and costs 1.5 bolivianos, which is roughly twenty cents, no matter how far you ride it.  Another popular option is a Trufi, which is an acronym (Bolivians love their acronyms almost as much as Peace Corps does…) for “Taxi de ruta fija”, or “Fixed route taxi”.  A Trufi costs the same and operates in the same way a micro does, but the major difference is the style of vehicle.  A trufi can be anything from a four-door sedan to a small bus and everything in between. Trufis usually have 3-digit route numbers, while their micro counterparts are distinguished by their lettered and 2-digit route names.  Makes perfect sense, right?

            There are, of course, ample taxis circulating around the city, except for on days or nights where there isn’t any gas in the city.  Last night was our first experience with this phenomenon, which apparently happens with a certain level of frequency here in Bolivia.  Most non-diesel cars are adapted to run on natural gas (propane), which Bolivia has in abundance, but occasionally can’t distribute properly, hence the gas shortage yesterday.  We were told that trucks were en route from Santa Cruz and would arrive in the night, so that life would be back to normal on Sunday. So far, it hasn’t happened and transportation is still hard to come by this afternoon…

     If personal space is your thing, then you might not enjoy getting around in Bolivia.  Despite the fact that it is one of the least populated countries in the world (less than 10 million people in a country twice the size of Texas), this phenomenon never applies to transportation.  Eight people can fit in a four-door sedan.  Sixteen can fit in a minivan built for nine… And if you are any taller than I am, then you can be assured you will not fit comfortably in the seats of a micro.

            I am beginning to feel like I really know my way around Coch.  I know of at least five trufi routes and three micros from my neighborhood to various parts of the city. I have wandered through much of the central part of the city on foot—the only way to really learn how it all fits together. It’s beginning to feel familiar, and that is a great feeling.

            I want to apologize for the random formatting of my posts so far.  I write them at home when I have time (and am not paying for the internet) and copy and paste them from my flash drive to the website, and for some reason, wordpress doesn’t appreciate my paragraph structures, so it deletes them. Also, I have been having trouble finding a computer that can upload pictures efficiently, so that’s the deal there.  I am attempting another strategy with this post, so perhaps some pictures will appear below: (if not, sorry…I’ll keep trying!)


Water fight during Carnaval.


Natalie and I with blue hair.


Beautiful Bolivia, as seen from the back of my neighborhood.


That´s all the time I have for pictures today, hope you enjoy! More will come later, as I get more efficient at this. And, for those of you who are curious what “sumaj p’unchay” means, it’s Quechua for “Buenos Dias!” or “Good day!”.

Love to you all.



  1. We’re really enjoying your blog. Blue hair? Carnaval?

    I’m learning a little about Quechua (not “learning Quechua”) from a book called “Biting the Wax Tadpole” by Elizabeth Little–the title would take too long to explain… lingua franca of the Inca…. Did you know that Huttese, the language of Jabba the Hutt, was closely based on Quechua? Dazzle your friends….

    We’re also enjoying planning our time on the Camino de Santiago (mas o menos) with your folks after Easter.


  2. Smelly! Always love reading your blog posts (you likely won’t be terribly interested in mine). As far as the photos, they are slow to load for viewing, as well, which tells me you’re loading some monster files.

    I see a couple of options:

    1) Take the photos you plan to post and reduce their size significantly in your photo editor before saving a second copy to your flash. Usually their is an option to reduce the size while maintaining the LxW dimensions/scale so it doesn’t get distorted. You might also try reducing the resolution on either your camera or for the blog copy of the photos if you have the option.

    2) Save the photos from your flash to the computer’s hard drive before loading. Not having to pass through the USB port might save you some time on the upload.

    3) Hang on to your hats… Open a Flickr account if you don’t have one and try loading to that. You might find it easier, if not quicker to upload multiple photos. Then, set up up the “blog this” button to link to your blog. When you click that, it will give you the option of adding a blog title and text, and when you’re done, allow you to post directly to wordpress. Other good reasons to do this – 1. easier to organize and share photos outside of your blog, including the ability for others to order prints; 2. you can put a cool flash collage “badge” on your blog that will take people through your shared photos. Downsides – 1. Doesn’t make much sense to cut down your file sizes if people are going to want to print, which pushes upload time back up; 2. the “blog this” feature is more for blogging one photo at a time versus multiples.

    Leave it to me to post a comment this lame…

    I hope you’re doing well.


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