A Travellerspoint blog

Bolivia

Shoot, covard, you are only going to kill a man

Loving Bolivia, where lunacy still roams


View MAP OF THE JOURNEY on AnnaMickus's travel map.

There is not much lacking this place. In point of fact, if there was a lake or a sea here you could almost dare to say this is close to paradise. Samaipata – “rest in the highlands” in Quechua – is a cool little village in the Santa Cruz province at an altitude of about 1700m. The intention was to stay here a couple of days and we have already been here for over a week. But what is there not to like? The laid back atmosphere? The warm weather? The organic herb garden? All the organic vegetables? The tasty vegetarian food? The delicious pizzas? The stunning views? The cute market place?

The village is of perfect size and has a suitable blend of Bolivians and European immigrants, which results in a perfect mixture of slackness and sophistication; not too many rules and stiffness but a cool laid back atmosphere with the opportunity to enjoy decent food and wine among other pleasures of the body and soul.

After spending a couple of nights at the organic herb garden we found an even more perfect place to stay; a small adobe bungalow with a cool cupola in a wonderful garden. We love it! Here it’s really easy to relax in the days and listen to the orchestra of thousands of crickets and frogs in the night. Jan (Belgium) and his Bolivian wife have built an amazing little collection of adobe huts here that is surrounded by a beautiful garden with fruit trees and all kinds of herbs plants.

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The organic place where we stayed the first nights

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Our cupola hut

The other day we had the privilege of meeting Carmen Luz, a charming artist lady that has spent a large part of her life travelling South America before settling down in Samaipata a few years ago. She has a trippy house in the mountains where we ended up celebrating Mickus’ birthday eve together with her and our newly found friend, Armon from Wales. It was an amazing place: a peaceful place with stunning views. As it happened, her new neighbours, Martin (Denmark) and Andrea (Check Republic) passed by and joined the party. We stayed late in the night and walked back in the bright moonlight only to join Jan and some of his friends in a crazy party in the garden. The birthday celebrations continued the next day with loud trance music in Martin’s and Andrea’s place and ended in a local discotheque, Che Wills, where we danced to the only music that seems to be played here, Reggeaton, and conversed with a toothless old guy who supposedly has the biggest cock in town and who says the same things at least 10 times in a row.

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Mickus celebrating his birthday

A couple of kilometres from town there is a refuge for animals who have been found wounded in the surrounding area. We made a visit there and saw loads of funny monkeys, birds and other animals, the most impressive of which was the howler monkey who sang a really nice song for us. Mickus even got to wear the monkey as a scarf :).

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We met some other new friends here as well, Morgan & Aurelie from France. Together with them and Armon we did a very interesting tour to the south west from here: we followed the last footsteps of Che Guevara – tu vives por siempre Che, comandante. We started in La Higuera, the village close to which he was caught and where he was shot to death. In order to get there we had to drive three hours along a really bad serpentine dirt road up in the mountains. The village was an interesting surprise. They have one huge and one smaller monument to commemorate the commandante, otherwise it is a really shabby little village with run down houses and poor people. It was nice to see they hadn’t turned the village into a funfair tourist trap.

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We got to meet a guy who lived in La Higuera (and still does) when Che was caught close to the village. He is now in his sixties but still seemed to remember pretty vividly what happened during that time. The tiny village had been filled with thousands of army people, and the villagers had had to provide them with food and shelter, which they obviously hadn’t been too happy about. The guy took us for an hour long hike down to the canyon where Che had been hiding and later got surrounded by the military and caught. We saw the stone where he had been hiding first and then the stone at which he finally had got caught. We also saw the school building to where Che was brought after being captured and we got to sit in the chair where he supposedly sat when he got executed. According to the legend his last words were: “Shoot, covard, you are only going to kill a man. It was thrilling to relive the last moments of what happened when he was captured and put to death.

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Our guide

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This is the place where he got caught

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Under this stone he was supposedly hiding first

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By this stone he was supposedly caught

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This is the chair in which he got shot...

After Che had been shot he was transferred to Vallegrande, a town about 50km from La Higuera. So our next stop was the hospital where he had been taken to be washed up and where he was placed in the laundry room for all people of the village and the world press to stare at. There he had lied on top of a wash basin for everybody to stare at. One night soon thereafter his remains had been buried at an unknown place. The burying place was kept a secret until recently when a retired man of the army broke a military secret by revealing where the body had been buried. Well obviously that was our next stop of the journey. In the place where the remains had been found was now a big building dedicated to Che and some other comrades of his whose remains also had been found there. The walls were filled with pictures of Che and his family from different parts of his life. The final stop of our fascinating journey was a place where remains from other guerrilla members had been buried after being killed in combat or executed after being captured. Oh what sad endings for these people.

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Che lying in the laundry room

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This is the laundry room today

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This is where the bones were found

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Oh, by the way, one of our cameras was broken a couple of days ago so some of the photo credits go to Morgan and Armon.

So what else have we been doing during all of these days we have spent in Samaipata? I don’t really know where the time went. This place is so wonderful that time seems to fly while doing not much more than enjoying the day, eating some delicious food, drinking some beer and playing some football on the PS3 we found around the corner. Oh how hard the life of a traveller is.

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Posted by AnnaMickus 08:24 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

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