A Harper’s Index of Bolivia

Many people have asked us why we’ve been travelling only in Bolivia. There are many good answers to that question: it’s so geographically and culturally diverse; there are so many things to do; the people are very friendly and honest; it’s relatively safe; Spanish is easier to learn here; and, let’s face it, it’s cheap.

There is nowhere else in South America that we could have stayed so long or done so much.  We thought you’d get a kick out of seeing some of the costs. Note the ones that don’t fit the pattern, though (generally things manufactured outside the country). Oh, almost forgot. There’s also no tax.

It’s going to be quite an adjustment facing North American prices again.

$1 Cdn = 6.7 Bolivianos (Bs)

Cost of…

Four-course set lunch (“almuerzo”) for four people  – Bs 60   ($8.96)

Three-day course of altitude-sickness medication for three people – Bs 8  ($1.19)

One Chapstick – Bs 16   ($2.39)

25 bananas – Bs 7  ($1.05)

Four tickets to a professional soccer match –  Bs 80  ($11.94)

Four tickets to Carnaval in Cochabamba – Bs 320  ($47.76)

One roll gorgeous hand-made wrapping paper, one metre  fancy ribbon,  3 pcs coloured paper and one roll scotch tape – Bs 10 ($1.49)

Dinner for four (fried chicken, white rice and fries) – Bs 40 ($5.97)

One night at a mid-range (3 star) hotel (4 people) – Bs 250 ($37.31)

Cheap accommodations* (4 people) – Bs 100 ($15)

Soccer ball – Bs 80-450 (approx. $12-67)

One 200 mL bottle of Nivea sunscreen (SPF 50) – Bs 86  ($12.84)

5 Breakfast buns (white rolls) – Bs 2  ($0.30)

Tickets for four people by train, Uyuni to Oruro  (7 hours) – Bs 200  ($29.85)

3-day course of ciprofloxacin (cheapest price found) – Bs 6  ($0.90)

Two huge grapefruits (in Rurrenabaque) – Bs 1 ($0.15)

Visit to dentist (cleaning & check-up) – Bs 100 ($15)

Haircut – Bs 10 ($1.49)

Emergency hospital visit** – Bs 522 ($77.91)

* but beware the hard-rock mattresses, crumbling walls and pillows so musty smelling you have to throw them outside your room for the night

**including consult with paediatrician, 2 hrs IV rehydration treatment with fever medication, blood and stool tests, follow-up visit with paediatrician and partial course of medications for e.coli and amoebas at a private clinic considered the best in the country

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