Blackthorn: A movie about Butch Cassidy actually filmed in Bolivia

Last night Yoli and I watched a movie called “Blackthorn.” The premise is that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were not killed at San Vincente, Bolivia in 1908. The film follows Cassidy around 1928 as he prepares to come back to the United States.

It’s a great western, with action and twists. But the best part is that it was filmed mostly in Bolivia and has Bolivian actors in it.

I have seen Robert Redford’s version of the Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid with Yoli, and it’s kind of pitiful the way all the Bolivia scenes were filmed in Mexico. Similar deal with the recent James Bond ‘Quantum of Solace’ film — all the Bolivian scenes were filmed in other countries, and the actors weren’t Bolivian.

“Blackthorn” shows off some of Bolivia’s most beautiful features, including the Salar de Uyuni, which I visited with Yoli in 2005. Cassidy has a ranch, possibly in Chuquisaca, and visits Potosi and Oruro among other places. The amazing landscapes and towns really make you feel like you’re in the right time period, and it also gives this western a different vibe (Bolivia has a different look than the American west).

The cast includes many Bolivians, and the story takes into account Bolivia’s history. Mining and colonialism definitely figure into it.

I can’t say enough about the film. Go rent it!

Down a mineshaft … and into a Mac store

After having found out that we would have to stay in Oruro an extra day before moving on, we decided to check out some local attractions. The first place we went was the mirador at the top of the Faro, a sort of lighthouse or beacon set on top of a huge rock near one of the edges of town. From there we had a spectacular view of Oruro. The city begins against several yellow-brown mountains, and then spreads across the plain below them. It was a long walk to get there, but from that high place we spotted some interesting buildings far off that we later walked past.

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Surprise in Oruro

After returning from Copacabana to La Paz on Sunday, we scrambled to get to the bus station and buy a ticket to Oruro. We made it in time and arrived Sunday night around 9:30 p.m. We found a comfortable hotel (Hotel Bernan) with hot water (and no “electric showerhead of death”!).

Monday morning we had nice showers and some delightful breakfast (api, a thick purple corn drink; and buñuelos, a pastry). Then we set out for the train station to buy tickets to Uyuni, a city next to a giant salt lake… One of the wonders of Bolivia, and something Yoli has never seen. We expected to leave around 11 am. Oruro was just a transportation stop-over.

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