After a few days at Estrella Andina, I remembered I was meant to be on a tight budget. I moved to Hostal Republica (which was the home of one of Bolivia's former presidents.) I loved how such things were possible in Bolivia - staying in a presidential home for a few dollars. The place was comfortable and built in that Spanish way where the rooms were mostly upstairs overlooking a courtyard from which I could imagine a lovestruck lad would sing "Fiiiiiigaro, figaro, figaro!" as the object of his affection peers from her window and sighs, "If only I could leave this room, but my evil stepmother has put a spell on the door. If I touch it I will surely die.....sigh!"
I always have the random luck of getting to places on people's birthdays. It was the birthday of one of the ladies who worked at the hostel. As soon as I arrived there was cake and snacks. I indulged and joined in the festivities. I instantly liked this hostel and the people working there who made me feel like family. Having eaten, I was told that there was going to be free beer tasting at the hostel all day. "Ati atya??" I instantly knew I was home. I noticed a very beautiful black girl in the group when we were singing happy birthday. She was the first black person I had seen in Bolivia (other than myself:-) and we instantly started chatting. She was great. She was Haitian, a lawyer doing her Masters in Bolivia and working part time at the hostel restaurant.
The hostel had a tour company across the road. I crossed over and booked a trip for the next day to Copacabana, Isla del Sol and Lake Titicaca (http://www.thekenyanexplorer.com/blog/2014/7/19/miscarried-baby-llamas-and-ancient-godspart-1-of-3). I spent a few hours in the afternoon napping then woke up later to eat what I believe has to be one of the tastiest (and cheapest) steaks I have ever eaten. Hostal republica had a lot of great things to offer.
As I ate my steak I met some other friendly tourists - an Italian guy and a German girl. I was telling them about my bad luck trying to go to Peru and they almost convinced me to try get there on road...."They don't really check documents at the border when you are on a bus..." I almost got tempted, until I had a vision of myself sitting in a Bolivian or Peruvian jail waiting for the non-existent Kenyan embassy to bail me out. It is never that serious.
The italian guy told us the most humorous story about this one Swedish backpacker he met during his South America journeys. They traveled together for a few days and the guy only had a small bag with him (despite the fact that he had been backpacking for months.) He did not have a change of clothes either. Every time they got to a river or lake, he would take off his clothes, wash them and walk around naked waiting for them to dry. One day they went to the beach and out of his little bag, he took out a shovel to build a sandcastle. The guy didn't have a change of clothes, but he had a shovel? Misplaced priorities anyone?
I slept well that night.