No French Connection

Ok, there’s no two ways about it, the next few days ended up being quite difficult for me. Tupiza is a small town and we didn’t meet other Spanish- or English-speaking tourists with whom to book tours. On the bus to Tupiza, Ariane had met a French couple in their 40s/50s on holiday here for just three weeks who spoke no Spanish and no English. I totally understood that even though Ariane’s English is really very good, it takes more effort than speaking in her mother-tongue of French, and she’d been (mostly) speaking with me in English for the last two weeks. So it was nice for her to relax and speak French!

We decided to go on a day trip to see the Tupiza surrounding area with the French couple, with very little interaction between me and them, what with me not having spoken French (except for roughly 11 days total) for about 18 years even though I’ve been known to be something of a Francophile. This was fine, interesting day anyway, chance for me to strain to hear a word I recognised and get the cogs working to eventually remember what it translates to…except that then I realised it would also be just the four of us for the next four days on the Bolivia-super-highlight Salt Flats tour that we had already paid the hefty fee for and now had no alternative people to go with…

I tried to be mindful and positive for those five days. I really really tried to stay positive! I held onto the thought that I had been looking forward to seeing this extraordinarily unusual landscape. I tried but failed to remember enough French to construct actual questions. I focussed on the wild west scenery. I tried but failed to follow the 3-way super-rapid nonstop conversation just a little bit, even though I knew I couldn’t possibly interject and take part. I mustered up the odd word: ‘Merci!’ (duh, obviously); ‘C’est vrai!’; ‘C’est bon’. I offered cookies: they declined. They barely even acknowledged my existence. Ariane translated the odd tidbit for me when she got chance. I got scant response when I spoke to the driver/guide or the cook in my recently-little-practised Spanish. After a while my brain got tired, so I tried a different tack and took the chance to listen to some music: Lovely! Off in my own little surreal-scenery world. Can anyone else keep up that kind of lonely positivity for five days straight? Turns out, I can’t…

Anyway, back to the start, here are some pictures, unbelievably all just from ONE DAY around Tupiza. It really is beautifully gobsmacking. Bolivia, you’re a tease.





















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Posted in Bolivia, Tupiza

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