It's become a tradition among many young Australians to spend Australia Day chilling out (or going off) with friends at a BBQ with a background of the best songs from the previous year. I jumped on the tradition when I came back to Australia and this year was my second event, but will probably be the last. My new home is surrounded by bushland, making it a great place to host a BBQ or party and 15 or so friends turned up for what promised to be a great day. But then, at about number 40 in the countdown, the music stopped. One of my friends (I still don't know who) turned it off so their child could play in the living room. Forget the fact that there was a whole house full of rooms to choose for playing. Forget that they didn't ask anyone. What I'm really pissed about is that they missed the point of the entire day. And I had to take the few who were interested around to the other side of the house where I'd set up my mini system to hear the rest. Next year, I'll have the BBQ the week before and spend Australia Day listening to the music on my own.
The flight, with all its stopovers had taken me 48 hours and my bowels were complaining loudly. A couple I'd met on the last leg of the flight had recommended a hostal in the centre of town and I was relieved not to have to make a choice. The taxi took me directly there and I struggled through check in with my poor Spanish, then asked where the bathroom was, not even noticing the cosy courtyard or caring which was my room. Stepping inside, though, I was horrified to see that there was neither soap nor paper. I'd have to hold on a little longer. It was already getting late, but I trusted that the supermarket would still be open and went for a walk. I'd been too embarrassed to ask where to find one, so I had to explore. After only a couple of minutes, I realised that a supermarket was a concept only valid in developed countries and there wouldn't be a large sign pointing to the nearest K-Mart. I'd have to find a general store that sold basic items. I began my hunt in ever widening circles around the hostal and was soon lost in the mass of shops selling bridal gowns, car parts, fancy dress, computers, cakes, mobile phones, magazines and internet access - all advertised with posters of buxom women in bikinis. I still don't understand why these items should be easier to find than soap and toilet paper. It took me half an hour to find a small market with a man selling what I needed to avoid an explosion. Thankfully, the toilet was free when I got back to the hostal and Cochabamba is still whole. I returned