Chilling in La Paz - literally!

Trip Start Dec 10, 2011
Trip End Sep 29, 2012

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Flag of Bolivia  , La Paz,
Monday, May 14, 2012

La Paz means Peace, and finally did I get some here in this chilly but sunny city. The outdoor clock at the bus terminal read 0 degrees, ouch, what a shock to the system. I like my sun as anyone who's been following my blog by now, should know about me. The bus took a winding road revealing the city below surrounded by mountains and snow capped ones too.

I checked into the Loki hostal and yes I was in a good one, good vibe, food , no kitchen but hot water and tea all day - yippee. I bumped into the girls from my Inka trek here just as they were heading out and shared stories about my altitude sickness and her nearly doing the death road biking. I spoke to a few people here doing this and told them repeatedly I could not think of doing anything worse, I felt much better finally and I was still out of breath as La Paz is over 3000 metres above sea level. What kept me here for days was the hot nice showers, comfy beds with duvet and oh did I mention the free tea all day!

When I arrived that first night I was smiling to myself, the roads were chaotic, you could smell the pollution, my taxi driver tried to charge me higher and I told him the price and he said ok, she knows what she is talking about... I was back to a more chaotic society and I liked it, I was missing a bit of loco since I left Colombia, Peru was good but far too polite!

I walked around the city and visited the Witches Market, to find dead Llamas for sell and other small trinkets. There were sadly no witches in Witches Market. After a skype date, I ate a great lunch of two courses and a local ginger drink for 10 BOB, that's less than 1.00, you are lucky if that would buy you a packet of crisps in London, let alone a good lunch.  

I did a lot of nothingness, browsing the web, booking hostals and researching my plan for Bolivia travel next few weeks, also have been trying to push out my flight from Sao Paolo and spent one more hour of being on hold to still not get through to them. 

I was staying in a girls only dormitory, I was by far the oldest in the room. Girls from Canada, Sweden and Denmark talked about boys in the hostel they'd be bonking, the number of shots they have had the night before and how Latin American men like the black kiss. I have to say, not sure if I am niave, but I did not know what that was.  Did I regret asking the girls that, they went into FULL details with actual real experiences and then looked back at me and said well have you? First time I was lost for words. I will leave it to your imagination to guess what this was...

Oh to be 21 years old again! I had a lot of fun, mostly listening to these girls chat about all sorts, and spent evenings eating, browsing internet and watching another episode of Idiot Abroad the Trans-Siberian railway one, laughed my socks off. I spent the mornings mostly getting up late, well about 8.30am, which is late on my travels so far, eating breakfast drinking a lot of tea and having really nice long hot showers.

The city is an urban sprawl, cars beeping their horns, large buses coming down very narrow roads, I had to often watch out for myself even on the pavements. I visited the city's park, there was more amorous goings-on here too. Young couples laying on the grass in the sunshine kissing and fondling, I thought to myself they should re-name it 'canoodling park' but then who uses that word nowadays?!

I walked over the large pedestranised bridge passing the busy highway below,  families were strolling along and half way along with a nice view of La Paz in the background, was a man with a polaroid - remember those, the instant picture camera, taking photos for money. One couple did a titantic type run up and catch and then a kiss, how awful I thought, and they were going to pay money for that too!

One day I was craving some good fruit and veggies, so went to a local market where I was delighted to get everything I needed and see the ladies sitting in the middle of their carefully assembled displays, I also saw something quite interesting which was plumbers, electricians etc putting their workmen's bags on the pavement to stay they were available for work. How handy I thought for a handyman ;)
On my last day in La Paz, I had heard all morning what sounded like gun shots, it was in fact fireworks being let off for a protest for better pay for healthworkers, the city was in chaos as hundreds of people walked on the streets as people looked on and traffic was completely stopped in the centre of the city. I have never seen so many police in one day, not even in Colombia. There were so many, some on backs of trucks being dispatched some place, some in riot gear just waiting, well for a riot, and a lot directing traffic which seemed the norm here in La Paz. I kind of got excited about it, until I saw one firework almost go in a lady's face as she looked on from her home's window, I decided it was best to stay inside and wait till it was a bit less crazy.  

I gave in after more skypes to my international taste buds, and had lunch in the British Indian restaurant craving something that was not runny soup and meat and rice. It was lovely and I had a wondeful spicy soup and a curry with desert for about 5.00 and I know it was good curry as my nose run, a good sign! I could not work out my waiter's accent, he was not British or Bolivian, turns out he was from Turkey, so I spoke back in Turkish and he was super surprised and I was very happy to try it out again.  As I walked back from here, more of the same protest was marching on the street I crossed and the police were escorting, I then saw even more police in riot gear on the way back and I hopped into the church for a little prayer before back into the safety of my hostel.
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