The Potosi Accomplishment

After spending two nights in Sucre hiding out from the Carnival activities, Teresa and I decided to cut it short and move on toward the Salt Flats.  We thought that the Carnival holiday was over.  Having read in the Lonely Planet that we could take a ‘shared taxi’ to Potosi for just a few dollars more than a crowded bus at about half the time; we decided that this was the way to go.

We showered and had a leisurely breakfast.  Armed with information from Lonely Planet, we approached the hostel desk and requested that they contact a ‘shared taxi’ for us to Potosi.  We thought that the lady behind the counter was being quite unhelpful when she told us that she didn’t think we could get a taxi today (Ash Wednesday), due to the holiday.   She tried a couple of phone numbers without success; informing us that the taxi’s dont run today.

Back to our room to finish packing we were determined to get to Potosi TODAY.  When we finished packing and getting ready we approached the desk once again thinking that the taxi drivers were probably just sleeping in today after the past 2-4 nights of heavy drinking and partying.  Again….no luck with the phone calls, so back to the room we went.

I was determined that the hostel staff was just being un-helpful and picked up the Lonely Planet.  Screw it!  I thought.  I’ll do it myself (even with my very limited Spanish).  I picked up the phone and dialed the first recommended number. Turismo Global.  With much help from Teresa….I managed my way through a conversation in Spanish and arranged for a ‘shared taxi’ to pick us up at 12:00pm. 

I was feeling soooo proud of myself!  Excited that I had booked the taxi without the un-helpful hostel staff.  I had actually had a conversation VIA PHONE in Spanish and made some sort of sense to the person on the other end of the line.  On a pride-full high; we finished our packing and headed to the desk to check out and await our chariot.  I have to admit that there was certainly a slight smug look on my face when I informed the lady at the desk that we had arranged a taxi (a taxi that she had told us was not going to run today).


We checked out quickly and had about an hour to wait for our ‘arranged’ taxi to arrive.  As the time came closer I was becoming a little anxious….did I give the right hostel?  Did she understand the time that I requested?  Tons of doubts started pushing their way in my head.  The pride that I was feeling earlier began to diminish.   Self-doubt crept in the closer to 12 the ticked….then 12:05….then 12:15….   Did I give the room number when she asked for an address?  12:20….Maybe she thought I said Sucre Hostel instead of Hostel Sucre (yes there are two hostel with very similar names). 


Teresa and I decided that if the taxi hadn’t shown up by 12:30 (half an hour late) that we should work on plan B.  Plan B entailed going to the tourist office just a few steps down the road and having them follow up on my arranged taxi.

12:25……still no taxi.  I’m no longer feeling smug or prideful.  I’m embarrassed and full of self-doubt.

12:30… taxi.  We gave up.  I walked to the tourist office and attempted to fill them in on the taxi that I had arranged.  The first lady that I approached led me to a second desk with a man who apparently spoke English.  He was assisting someone else at the time so I went back to check with Teresa.  Still no taxi.  Teresa and I gathered up our bags and determined that the taxi arrangement was failed mission.

Back at the tourist office; the man  I had been previously directed too came to our assistance.  On explaining to him that I had booked a taxi and showing him the name and number that I had dialed he broke out into laughter…..what??  The taxi service that I had contacted was in POTOSI !!  Not Sucre.    OMG….I thought!  Did I really book a taxi to come from Potosi to pick us up in Sucre and drive back to Potosi??   Yes…apparently, I did!

I felt like a complete idiot!!  But then again why should I?  It’s clearly written in the 2010 Lonely Planet Bolivia guidebook on page 222.  Listed under Sucre under the Bus and Taxi headline.  Who would have known that this particular taxi was in a totally different city? 

We all shared a good laugh over my mistake.  I am still secretly hoping that the lady on the other end of the phone knew that I was in Sucre and did not send a taxi to pick us up. 

I have to give a shout out to Marco Gregor Birchler at the Casa de Tourismo office for all of his great assistance and patience. 

A wise warning to ANYONE traveling in Bolivia during Carnival.  Apparently the ENTIRE COUNTRY shuts down for Carnival.  So, if your planning to attend in upcoming years; I would suggest that you plan to be in one place from the Thursday before Ash Wednesday until the day after Ash Wednesday.  NOTHING happens during this time frame….tours, busses, trains, restaurants, stores….everything shuts down. 

We were very fortunate to get a ride out of Sucre.  The tourist office spent about a half an hour on the phone before finding someone that would drive us to Potosi.  The Bolivian’s are serious about celebrating Carnival.  According to Marco, in the history of Bolivia…there was an attack from Chile during Carnival and the officials decided that any retaliation would have to wait until after Carnival….and it did!!