The train of death, Santa Cruz to Puerto Quijarro

While staying in the middle of Santa Cruz de la Sierra we had almost 3 km to the bus and train station. Our plan was to visit the station on a Sunday to buy tickets to go the day after. The Sunday however was very much a holiday since the No side of the constitutional referendum just won, meaning that Evo Morales can not remain in office after 2019.

When we asked the personnel in the hotel they said it was very unlikely that the train station would be open, why we saved the ticket buying for later. In the evening we planned how to make the best use of the Monday, the initial plan was to have a late breakfast and then take a taxi to the station in the hopes that there would be tickets left for us. However, the online ticket website www.ticketsbolivia.com showed tickets available for Wednesday, but not Monday or Tuesday. But then again, we thought, this is Bolivia, a website does not have to be right. The new plan was that I would get up early and walk to the station.

After 25 minutes of quick walking I arrived and sure enough, there were tickets available. Even better, they were almost half the advertised price online, at only €8 for a 15 hour train ride we could not complain!

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When we arrived to the station 20 minutes before departure we were greeted by a man that helped take care of our luggage for a small fee, he worked for the train company and were putting it in the locked baggage car. After this we had to buy two tickets for the tax to use the station, a system that seems to be somewhat of a standard in Bolivia, and at somewhere like €0.30 it was not breaking the bank.

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We got on the train which was a rather modern one compared to the rest of the transportation in the country. Rather close to the stated departure time the train actually departed, and started its journey towards Puerto Quijarro.

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After showing the tickets we were asked if we wanted to have lunch at a cost of €2.50. The offer was for chicken and we accepted, seeing that this was the only offer on the menu. The chicken was not too amazing but it made sure we wouldnt go hungry for a while. For dinner the same chicken was offered, only this time deep fried instead of grilled. Linn opted to have just the rice and a salad, which bumped the price down to half.

When we got back to our car after dinner we found a man in our seats. He apparently saw that no one was sitting there at the moment and took his chance to get a better view of the movie playing. When we asked him to move he said that we could take his seat, in the back of the car. Right next to the frickin cold AC outlet. After sitting there for 20 seconds we concluded that he will move. He refused even though some other people on the train helped with our broken Spanish.

I quickly went back and got the conductor who informed the man that he has his own seat that he can sit in, and after grumping a bit more he finally got out of our way and we could settle in, watch some TV and fall asleep. Sleeping on the train was OK, but as the tracks are not of the standard we are used to in Europe the train is moving a lot side to side and makes some noise. But nothing too bad.

We arrived in Puerto Quijarro close to the Brasilian border at the stated time. There we took some time and I used the bathroom in the station to put in my contact lenses. Next up was crossing the border into Brazil!

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