La Paz is going to be a bit of a text based entry. I didn’t take my camera out too much so I can’t illustrate it too much, but it was a city I really enjoyed.
It’s a really interesting place, and I think that’s what made it so appealing. We arrived to horrendous traffic clogging up the centre as there were protests in the square (a regular occurrence apparently, Bolivian protest anything from important social issues to a reduction of the amount of Simpsons on the TV). It gave us a good introduction to the city though: busy, loud, and full of both people wearing suits and women in national dress, all chewing coca leaves for the altitude. It wasn’t as beautiful as the other South American capitals we’d been to, but it had a good feeling about it. Perhaps my expectations were low because we’d heard from others who had passed through that they didn’t rate it, but I really liked it.
Cities are fun if you have the energy because there’s always so much going on. Luckily La Paz hit at a high energy time – I imagine it would be pretty draining if we weren’t feeling up to it. There are two big gringo hostels, Loki and Wild Rover, and we stayed at the latter. It was full of Brits. That was pretty fun because, as great as it is meeting people from all over the place and getting to know so many very different people, sometimes it’s just great to have a night where everyone round the table is being sarcastic and making Harry Potter jokes. We met cool people from all over the place as well though, and again it’s just nice to be somewhere busy when you’ve got the energy for it because you can talk and hang out with loads of new people all the time.
We spent most evenings in the bar, and went out to some interesting bars. I say interesting because they were usually pretty bizarre. Half the time there was no DJ so a few people just took charge of the playlist. Smoking inside isn’t illegal in Bolivia and so there is a much smokier quality to the air than back home. Dancing on the bar also seemed to be pretty popular, despite candles and people trying to buy drinks providing a constant hazard. I didn’t take too much convincing to get involved in the bar dancing, and generally had a very good time despite the strangeness of the venues.
In the days we saw more of the city. Nonna and I took a walking tour for a few hours, to see some of the main sights in the centre. It’s a really weird but also really interesting place. Highlights of the tour included seeing the prison where rich inmates pay $1000 a month for luxury cells including jacuzzis and wifi, plenty of markets and plazas, learning a bit about the native ladies, and a witches market all strung up with dead baby llamas which are apparently lucky to build into the foundations of a new building. It all ended, weirdly enough, in an English pub where we had a shot of the local liquor.
On another day, Rav and Nonna went to cycle ‘death road’, a bumpy downhill cycle ride. Pretty sure the road would live up to its name with my lack of cycling skills, I sat it out and spent my day in a nice coffee shop doing some reading as thunder and rain pounded outside (luckily the weather was better for them on the road!). I was glad that they came back pretty early though as I had almost been convinced by some girls from the Faroe Islands who we had met to go to something called ‘cholitas wrestling’, which is kind of show wrestling with the wrestlers being ladies in local dress. Apparently it was pretty bad so I’m glad I didn’t go in the end…
From La Paz we booked something I’d been looking forward to for so long – a trip to the Amazon. It was pricey but you can’t really spend all this time in South America and not go to one of the most famous (and massive) parts of it. So that’s that for La Paz really. I liked it a lot. Bolivia is full of really friendly and interesting people, and has so much different stuff to do, and it is fast moving up in my list of favourite countries.