Sunday, October 19, 2008


I always tell new volunteers that if they ever find themselves in a conundrum while visiting La Paz city, they should make their way to Turbus Totai.  

Totai is the little bus company that, among other things, arranges for transportation between La Paz and Coroico (the closest pueblo to Carmen Pampa).  For a little more than $2 U.S., Totai passengers are driven the spectacular 70 km (44 mile) mountainous stretch between Bolivia's capital city to Coroico.  Weather and landslides permitting, the one-way trip generally takes about 3 hours.

Minibuses such as this one are the most common form of transportation between La Paz and Coroico (and between the UAC-CP and Coroico).  They have room for 15, but I've seen more!

Because nearly the entire UAC-CP familia travels via Totai it's pretty much guaranteed that you will find someone you know when you show up at the bus company's small La Paz office.  In fact, I think Totai could adapt a Spanish version of the Cheers theme song--it really is the place in La Paz where everybody knows my name.  

A rider leans up against the Turbus Totai sign that sits out front of the office

I remember one time in particular a few years ago when I was running out of money and not sure how/if I would be able to return to the College considering protests and road blocks. Alone in La Paz, I showed up at the Totai office and a UAC-CP professor loaned me his cell phone to call Sr. Damon and a group of students helped me figure out a way back to Coroico. It's comforting to have a place to go when in desperate need of a familiar face.

 "Sarah de la UAC!" is generally how I'm greeted by Oscar, jefe of Totai, when I show up unannounced to buy my ticket to Coroico.  

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