Day 34: Back to Cochabamba – The Unbelievable Story of my Lost Phone And a Catholic Festival 

It was about time to leave amazing Torotoro and to return to Cochabamba to get the last parts of my motorbike figured out. Just before leaving the town I tried to ask an old woman for directions who was sitting on a wall. “Cochabamba, a qui?”, pointing with my hand to the direction of the road I assumed to take. “Si, Cochabamba”. And she also said something else which I did not understand correctly. Anyways, politely I said also “Si” when all of a sudden…

she jumped like a 100m sprint athlete on the back of my motorbike, lol. I did not expect that… especially since the space was very limited on the back of my bike and the “old lady” took quite some room. It was quite uncomfortable… if not painful for my crown jewels, LOL. What did I do???? A 4-5 hours trip like that to Cochabamba????? Lord help me! My prayer got luckily heard and after some km she touched my shoulder in order to get off my bike. She appreciated the ride and told me “Muchas Gracias”. Relieved I was enjoying again the fantastic scenery along the road back until I arrived around midday at Marcelos store. The headlight protector arrived and he could also fix the petrol container.

I knew already there would be a catholic festival in one of the surrounding villages taking place and Marcelo, Marco, his girlfriend and me decided to go there. Erwin was one of the sponsors of the festival and organised great places for us on a great tribune. While we were sitting in the taxi I was using the time to send a couple of text messages to friends since there was no or only very limited wifi in Torotoro.

As soon as we arrived we headed for the next street stand and ordered a couple of beers. While enjoying them, Marco suddenly dropped the can and whispered “POLICIA”.  Of course, I did not know that alcoholic beverages are prohibited during the festival in order to get the masses under control. Suddenly, there were four to five policemen coming into our direction and Marcelo and me tried to hide the cans under our shirts. My heartbeat went out of control and I felt like a teenager again who was drinking illegally a first alcoholic beverage. With the difference that the police in Bolivia is rather strict and violences against the law usually end in prison. I was not bothered to end up in such a place as you can imagine. Luckily, the police did not notice us and we continued to walk to our reserved seats.

Erwin, his whole family and friends were already there and enjoying the show. I was positively surprised. Originally I thought there would be only old people celebrating the virgin of the town, but instead there were hundreds of young groups dancing the day and night away. It reminded me more of a carnival in Rio de Janeiro than a Catholic festival and it was crazy how people were celebrating.

In total there were roughly 200 different groups from all over Bolivia and even Argentina in order to celebrate the virgin of the village. I did not want to know how much time, effort and money they were spending on their costumes. They were just phenomenal beautiful with so much love to the details.

We had so much fun that day that I did not even think a single second about my mobile phone. On our way back to town I wanted to check my messages and suddenly realised that I did not have my phone anymore. I was looking for it everywhere… in the motorbike clothes, in my trousers, in my bags… without success! Of course, I had it with me in the taxi on the way to the festival. God damn it!!!!! I could not believe I lost my phone, with all my contact details, banking apps, google maps, pictures and so on and so forth! What a nightmare!!!!

I intuitively opened my laptop and started the localisation app from google, where I registered luckily my phone. I just hoped that the taxi driver did not switch off the device or removed already the SIM card to sell it to someone else. I was in Bolivia and not in Switzerland anymore, where people would eventually bring back a lost phone to the next police station. The app could in fact localise the phone while Marcelo just said: “Sh*%!, We can’t go there now. It is a baaaaaaaad neighbourhood. Marcelo’s partner suggested to go there early next morning at the first light of the day.

Honestly, I did not have any hope to get back my 500 dollar phone. This is like finding gold on the streets, who would give it back? For sure it was already sold… Who would be the guy having the phone? The taxi driver? Or maybe a pickpocket and I did not forget it in the taxi. We did not know… Neither did we know the exact address but only a rough location. It seemed to be hopeless and that night I could barely sleep, having nightmares and much more. How would I be able to manage my daily needs from here? My father would need to take over all my admin stuff… Thinking about it I was laying in bed with my open eyes and prayed to the virgin of today’s festival, to eventually get my phone back. Only the power from above could help me now!