the highest city in the world
18.11.2008 17 °C
So the bus journey to La Paz was the scariest of my life. Not only did I have visions of the bus crashing just because this is Bolivia and that´s what buses do. I realized in my haste to get out of Uyuni we got on a local bus, not even a upstandard tourist bus, overnight bus. It wasn´t a very nice bus. No bathroom, and it´s a 12 hour bus journey and I soon found out Boliviano´s don´t just stop the bus so a poor tourist can go to the bathroom. The first 6 hours of the journey were over what could be called a path and what could also be called the bumpiest variation of a road I have every been on, on a bus no less. The bus was outfitted with 8 wheels, all 4WD super wheels because that´s how bad the road is. At times we were bumping around so much it sounded like the suspension of the bus was just going to shatter and fall off. You could not get much in the way of sleep due to road conditions. Anyway half way we finally stopped at a place that had some sort of outhouse toilet and the rest of the journey was on a flat gravel road that was much more tolerable. We arrived in the early morning in La Paz and decided to walk to our hostel which was nearby. Everyone seemed to be running which was funny for us because we could barely walk because of the altitude. La Paz has a lot of hills and our hostel was on one, within the Witch´s Market. It was a nice hostel though, Hotel Fuentes. Our room had cable TV! This was very exciting for us because there were channels that show english shows and movies. We explored a bit of the city later and it was indeed loaded with markets. Everyone is trying to sell you something and give you a deal. If you´re good at bargaining you could go back with some amazing souvenirs for a damn amazing price. We took it slow because again we didn´t want to kill ourselves with altitude sickness. We mainly just walked around the market and explored a nearby plaza. Loads of italian and pizza places again. The next day we went to explore the main drag - el Prado. This is just one long street with a lot of shops. La Paz is a fairly modern city and huge and in a bowl shaped concave in a mountain. I liked it. It was a sunday we went out and there was some sort of parade going on. With all sorts of people in traditional-ish dress. The women were in bowler hats, had their hair tied back in long braids, and wore big puffy knee length skirts. The men well were in all sorts of strange attire. Anyway it was quite a parade. We followed it down to the Prado and decided to taste the local salteñas which are the Bolivian version of empanadas. Man they do it right! Salteñas are damn tasty. Hard to eat because the are actually juicy inside but damn tasty. They are still a meat and stuff filled pastry but baked. I don´t know what they fill it with but it manages to be crispy baked but tender sweet juicy in the middle. Awesome. Later in the day we took a look to some of the other markets in town - the electronics market was particularly interesting. They were selling everything you could imagine, stereo equipment, mp3 players, tvs, cameras, music equipment, cables, wires. God knows what else. Unforunately almost nobody had the cable for my stupid sony mp3 player which i lost. The one place that did have it was charging $55US which was the standard price for that particular imported cable. I could have gotten a whole other sony mp3 player of the same make for $70US. Anyway it was really interesting. No shortage of street food or shoe shiners. We booked a trip to Rurrenabaque and into Madidi National Park - Bolivia´s piece of the Amazon pie. Looking forward to what the jungle will bring.
For more pics of La Paz go to: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=80489&l=d245d&id=684816071