Oruro Stories and Tips

Sleeping in Oruro

Bady Drink Photo, La Paz, Bolivia

In my several visits to Oruro I failed to find suitable accommodations. There are two areas featuring hotels. The main one is next to the bus terminal and the second is next to the train station. The first is by far more attractive, despite the second being next to a night market offering plenty of local food meals. Overtime I tried both areas - I couldn't change my hosts' decisions - and had an opportunity to compare.

Some characteristics were shared by the establishments in both areas. Despite the Romans having fairly mastered the science of plumbing a couple of millennia ago, it is still part of a distant, utopic future in Bolivia. The hotel's concierge would show the guest a precariously connected electric heater - its cables drawing strange paths along the ceiling and walls - and would promise hot water at all times. Invariably - while putting my life in danger and turning the contraption on (most electric sockets in Bolivia are not connected to earth) - I got an anemic trickle of quasi-frozen water. Complaining is useless since liquid water is considered to be hot water in the Altiplano; I've got identical reactions while visiting local homes. The best solution to the problem while in the area is to move around with products allowing washing oneself without water.

At Hotel Lipton (Av 6 de Agosto 225, next to the bus terminal), the room was spacious. The double-sized bed, with a sunken mattress, seemed to be small within the empty room, which was void of any other furniture except for a closet. There was no heating, but there were enough blankets to survive a cold night. A room here costs five dollars and allows easy access to the bus terminal, but it is a bit far from downtown.

San Salvador is a two stars hotel in front of the railway station. When I saw the room for the first time, I smiled. Despite my worries - the area has a bad reputation - the room looked cozy and warm. It was small, but it included a coach and a television set with a funny, old-fashioned antenna, a nice carpet and what looked as a nice bed. However, the attached bathroom failed to provide even the humble promise displayed by the water heater. A room here costs around three dollars. Yet, on the entertainment angle the situation here was better than around the bus terminal. Nearby was the Mercado Campero, a night market offering the opportunity to taste local dishes and buy local products. I had been warned to be careful there, but returned to the hotel before nine without damages or having felt threatened.

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