Downtime in La Paz, Bolivia

Trip Start Dec 30, 2010
Trip End Jul 06, 2011

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Where I stayed
Hostel Continental

Flag of Bolivia  ,
Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Day 24 January 27th - I arrived in La Paz earlier than expected. The bus circled the outer rim of the city and slowly descended down a steep slope, the view of the city at night was exciting, just a shame my camera could not record what I could see. It looked as if we were dropped off in the middle of no where. I jumped into a taxi and before long was resting in my private room, double bed, en suite and cable TV, all for 7 quid a night. To relax I watched a bit of TV and nodded off to sleep.

What comes next is what my brother, Pete, predicted on his first comment on my blog.

I woke up at 5pm. I was exhausted. I read about a great curry house run by some British people, so I headed there for my dinner. It didn't take too long to find, though the altitude and plumes of car smoke did not help to catch ones breath. I headed to the bus stop first to grab my onward ticket to Uyuni and then proceeded on finding the restaurant.

I decided on Llama kebabs to start, with a Bunk beer (local) and for my main, Llama Tikka Massala, with Madras rice. Absolutely delicious. Of course my eyes were bigger than my stomach, but I managed to finish the lot. The place was very friendly also, with plenty of Brits and Irish enjoying a good curry.

The walk back to the hostel was painful and steep, man this altitude is getting to me, I look forward to travelling at a lower level above sea level.

Back to hotel and back to sleep. Job done!!

Miles walked 0.26
Temp 24 C 73 F

Day 25 January 28th - A great night sleep. My body is in need of some downtime after the efforts at Isla De Sol!! I realise I have booked the bus ticket a day later than I had planned. This is not a problem, just I can't leave Uyuni when I want to due to bus schedules, so I investigate a 3 day tour that will drop me off in Chile, as planned.

Today, I had to get up earlier, so 10am wasn't bad. I spent most of the morning exploring the city. There were city tours on offer, but to save money for future adventures, I was quite happy wandering around by myself.

My first location was Plaza San Francisco, which unfortunately is a pile of rubble at present. Although the church is intact, but the rest was a building site. The Plaza was very busy, as is the whole of the city. I assume I've arrived just as a service is finishing, people chatting outside.

I walk away from the Plaza and head past various markets. Some selling flowers, some gearing up for Feb 14th with bears and cards. I also walk past various markets with delicious smelling delights, unfortunately, the way my tummy was this morning, I'll be heading for something more basic. 
I also drift past many young lads wearing balaclavas. These lads are shoe shine boys. They are dotted around the city and all cover their face. I'm not sure why, at first it's a little scary, ie hands straight in pockets, but after a few sightings, it becomes part of the norm.

At this point, I find a local pizza place for lunch. The positive aspect, that even though the wait is long, the chef is stood a few feet in front of you, tossing the dough of your pizza and adding the toppings. I must have sat there for around 90 minutes, reading up on future destinations, still trying to figure out my next 4/5 days. As if by chance, some guy drops a leaflet on my table from over my shoulder. It has a map of La Paz but also a few tour groups who have websites. The tour guides provided in the lonely planet only had email addresses and both didn't respond.

After lunch, I book a tour in Uyuni and it is confirmed. I have a window of one hour from my 13 hour bus trip arriving in Uyuni to my tour departing Uyuni. I'm sure it'll be fine.

I potter around the city some more. Spending time in Plaza Alonso de Mendoza where there are about 8 different men with old style cameras, ie camera on a tripod with a curtain to hide underneath. I assume it's dedicated to the tourist industry, I sneak past them and sit down near the statue. I sit there for a while, people watching and enjoying the warmer weather.

I potter around some more around the city. Passing busy markets, more churches, crowds of locals crowded around certain markets, walk up and down many streets, most that cater for locals but some tourist shops, ie Internet cafes and international calling places.

I end my afternoon around 5pm, checking back into the hostel for a siesta. Around 9pm, I'm still feeling full from the pizza, I still head out anyway, maybe something might spark my appetite. All I could stomach was a packet of cheese puffs, then it was back to the hostel to turn in for the night.

Miles walked 1.86
Temp 24 C 73 F

Day 26 January 29th - I have my hotel till noon then I have around 6 hours to kill before my 13 hour trip to Uyuni. I set my alarm early, but I wake suddenly mid dream. I dreamed I was in F1 racing for Williams but Christian Horner was my boss. Apparently I had won the last race and was favourite for this one, although I was starting 17th on the grid. Behind my team mate and someone I went to school with. It didn't seem like an F1 car considering I could see my feet and peddles. The race started and instead of looking out of my visor, I used some on board TV screen to race the car. A couple minutes of randomly changing cheers via the paddles, seeming like I was racing at 200mph and no able to see in my mirrors. After a couple of laps, I thankfully woke up, quite a stressful dream.

Seeing as I was up early, 830am, I went to a different part of the city, to take some snaps.

I had a couple of issues with two credit cards to sort out but got all my charges back, enough to probably cover 4 nights in a hostel.

Back to the hostel to check out. It was now time to kill 6 hours. I grabbed lunch at a pretty cool bar, just a simple burger, and then went in search of a gringo sports bar. When I found the bar, it was showing football via BBCs text updates on their website, no live feed. Instead on another TV, they had the Australian women's tennis open final repeated. I instead selected an Internet cafe.

I'm becoming an expert at killing time. It wasn't long before I grabbed my bags from the hostel and headed to the bus station. A slow long walk up a hill with 20+ kilos on my back and front. At the bus station, they were showing Pearl Harbour, so I found a bench and killed another hour. Grabbed some snacks and boarded my bus.

I was pleasantly surprised to be sat next to a young Australian girl called Nina who was with three friends but had the short straw of sitting next to me. She introduced herself straight away and we chatted for the first hour or so. She has 6 weeks of travelling, is half way through a 5 year double degree and was heading to Uyuni for a day trip and then back on the 13 hour bus the same day back to La Paz! Very brave. Nina and her friends were very friendly and a great change from some of the Australians that I have met so far.

The bus journey was long and some what painful. The last four hours were driven over cobbled stones, so I regretting not bringing a bra, and well, support for every other muscle that wobbles in my body. It was like a 4 hour intensive wobble session. Thankfully, it didn't last too long and before long, I was in Uyuni.

Distance walked 1.39 miles
Temp 24C 73F
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Pete on

Hey Ant - maybe spend the money I donated on an emergency bra....just incase you come across more cobbles....oh already spent it on beer...doh!

El on

Funnily enough, Justin Lee Collins was trying on men's bra's in Japan on telly last week......can you fit in a short trip across the pacific??!

mum on

another interesting blog,hope you are not too sore after the bumpy journey.

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