After our lovely trip on the train we had breakfast at a restaurant called El Fogón just beside the bus station before we headed in to buy some tickets. Expecting to reach La Paz at maybe three in the afternoon we were stumped when we found out that there is a strike, all the roads are blocked and it is impossible to get to La Paz at this moment.
Apparently the drivers of all the heavy transports were in some kind of disagreement with the government about how much tax they should pay and such. To get the government to listen to them they parked their heavy trucks, blocking all major roads in the country. We met some Argentinians in the bus station who had the same problem, they apparently got in to Oruro the day before with the train. After spending one extra night on board the train while the tracks were cleared of rocks put there by protesters. Apparently the strike had been going on since the last Sunday, and now it was Thursday.
The saying is “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” which would have been a great solution to this lemon we got served. Had we not booked and paid for a hotel in La Paz. Hopeful we stayed in the bus station for a few hours before we concluded that it was of no use. We checked in to a hotel close to the bus station at a rate that wasnt good but didnt blow our budget. Enjoyed a walk around the town to find a restaurant that unfortunately was closed because we got there too late, and when we later returned for dinner it wasnt even that good.
After a good nights sleep we went into the bus station to ask what the status was, as different online sources gave different information. The lady in the information cubicle told us that it was not possible, the roads had been open briefly in the night but were now closed again. The police at the terminal told us that La Paz is closed, but El Alto which is right beside it should be reachable. Not wanting to stay in Oruro anymore we bought tickets with the company Naser that promised they would get us to La Paz, even though others said it would be impossible.
We felt rather stupid sitting in the bus more or less alone before others that also bought tickets started showing up, and as this was one of few buses heading to La Paz a lot of people joined in on the tour on the way out from the terminal. They actually sold tickets to people in the middle of traffic.
The bus was comfortable and the other travelers were nice and we tried to make some conversation about the situation in Spanish. Even though we were feeling a bit uneasy as to if we would actually arrive at our destination the trip was not too bad. The road was wide and straight and when we finally approached El Alto we could see rests of the protests but no blockade!
We were very happy, and tired, when we finally reached La Paz, a fascinating new stop on our trip!