The Death Train and Our First Day in Bolivia
April 14, 2017
Our time in Brazil had come to an end and after two months we were looking forward to a change (and a much cheaper country.) Brazil is a massive country and getting to Bolivia we had to cross the entire country just to get to the border let alone our next stop of Santa Cruz. We had already made it to Valinhos so we “only” had 20 hours of buses and a 16 hour train, most people would ask “why don’t you fly”, well the buses and trains were $100 cheaper, 40 hours longer and we got an awesome opportunity to have little sleep and lots of stress.
The buses to a town called Corumba near the border or Brazil were pretty straight forward except for one hiccup, I left my wallet on the last bloody bus! Luckily for us the dodgy old Greek who lived at the hostel and worked as some sort of con artist offered to call his mate to track down the wallet and funny enough they found it, but guess how much money was in it when they “found it”? Zero dollars and no cents, what a surprise. We grew to hate this Greek guy as he kept offering once in a lifetime dodgy deals on all sorts of tickets and tours even after he and his buddies split the cash I had in my wallet, luckily we only had one night before we crossed the border and headed Bolivia to catch the DEATH TRAIN!
We checked out of our hostel in Corumba and got a cab to the border where we would catch the train. It was a rather painless border crossing with only a 3 hour wait but as with any new country you need money, easy right? You would think that but me and Bailey only had Mastercard from Australia and after now trying 10 different banks at several locations and getting no reason from our banks our cards did not work! Little did we know at the time but this turned into one of the biggest fuck arounds on our trip, it was just lucky we had some left over Brazilian dollars to exchange so we had enough to get us by for a day. We were also now in Bolivia and things are cheap in Bolivia we where shocked at the price of the 16 hour death train!
Now don’t be to shocked, it is only called “The Death Train” for two reasons, (1) it was used to transport dead victims of the mosquito born yellow fever virus and (2) because so many people died building the train line. Knowing this we weren’t worried about the trip and thought it would be a comfortable way to travel at only $14 Aussie dole hairs for a 16 hour journey. Boy were we wrong, the journey started off great we hanged out in the restaurant carriage and even got some beers at a short stop, although we almost missed the train with all our possessions onboard oh and Bailey (sorry Sherry but beers are important). The whole time we were awake we were shocked at the amount the train bounced around and thought that sleeping might be harder than we thought and sure enough it was like sleeping on a cheap rusty roller coaster that had an accident rate of a Chinese construction site. My sleep was made up of short naps with waking up to the feeling of butterflies in my stomach from the violent movements of the train, so after 16 hours we arrived in Santa Cruz at 6am with no place to stay and the adventure continues……