Huge city in a canyon!

Trip Start Jul 31, 2005
Trip End Sep 05, 2007

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Saturday, August 11, 2007

Matt was still unwell when we left Puno, so we took the "posh" bus and headed to Desguadero, the border town with Bolivia. It was a manic town, but we had seen towns like this before, we kept together, kept our belongings even closer and proceeded to get stamped out of Peru and into Bolivia with no rip off charges! Maybe that could be because we laughed in his face when he tryed to charge us for an arrivals card?!
Desguadero was a shoddy, dusty town, but it is on Lake Titicacaca and is bustling with vendors and people so we liked it.

The journey onto La Paz was pleasant enough, and shorter than we expected (as usual the bus driver obviously thought he was on a formula one racing course!) Soon enough we were driving through what is now a city in itīs own right - El Alto. This used to be a slum area which sits on the edge of the canyon, and as you can see from the photographs offers spectacular views down to La Paz.
We walked from the bus station to find our hostal which is located in a busy area, just off of one of the cityīs many plazas. There are market stalls galore, horns honking all day and all night long, and people everywhere. We were lucky that our friends Rob and Anne had to come back to La Paz to get their car fixed, and so our first evening here was spent catching up with them over dinner and beer! The usual when we meet up, we chatted until it was time for bed - it was great to see you guys, that year since we last met in Bangkok has flown by!
La Paz is the highest capital city in the world, we hope that we are over the altitude now, we descended 200 metres or so when we arrived here from Puno. That does not make walking up and down the steep, narrow streets of this city any easier!

Matt stayed in our nice, clean, cheap room and made the most of the cable tv (most unusal for us, we had a tv in Cuzco and then here - cant remember the time before that it was so long ago!) As it was the start of the premiership that day, he watched the matches and was delighted when his team won! I went out and about exploring the busy streets. I went into the very interesting Coca Museum, which was both sad, educational and eye opening. It is illeigal to chew coca leaves now, which to be honest would be compared to making it illeigal to drink beer in England, it was quite shocking but very interesting.
I hung around the Plaza San Francisco marvelling at the beautiful church and then hit the many shops which line the streets and fall back into huge mansion style houses. Itīs great, you can go on a spending spree here and only spend a fiver!

Yesterday Matt and I ventured out, we retraced the steps that I had taken the day before, wandering through the bizarre witches market, through the cobbled streets and down into the newer business section of the city. We walked downhill for ages looking for a supermarket and after a friendly local pointed us in the right direction we shopped for toiletries and chocolate! Last night it was fab relaxing in our room, watching a movie and eating real choccie!

Tonight we are headed south to Potosi on a cold, uncomfortable bus!
As we only have just over three weeks left of our travels (we know, can you believe it has gone so fast) we have decided that we will see Bolivia on another trip properley, we both want to visit Argentina and spend some time in Rio before we fly home, so we will not be visiting the Amazon or the Salar on this trip. Our plans as they stand today are to visit Potosi, Tupiza, then cross into Argentina and visit Salta, Mendoza and Bariloche before making our way up to Buenos Aires and into Brazil via Iguazu Falls.


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