The second half of the trip to La Paz

Trip Start Mar 08, 2005
Trip End Mar 29, 2005

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Sunday, March 20, 2005

So I've told enough bus stories. Which is too bad, because there's been plenty more. I will say that my issue with Peruvian buses is not the quality necessarily. Yeah, they're sub par. But so were the buses in Honduras, Guatemala and Belize. The difference is, in Central America I knew exactly what I was getting into. You jump on the bus, have a look around and pay the guy working the door of the bus. I've been on chicken buses, I've sat 2 or 3 people to a seat. I've been stuck intimately close to strangers on a bus for hours. But I knew what to expect. The bus people in Peru simply have no problem with lying to your face. Direct buses aren't direct. No changing buses means 3 changes. And on this particular day, not only did we go out of our way to Copacabana in Bolivia, but we stayed there for four hours.

And it's not that I failed to clarify or asked the wrong questions. These people will just grab you by the ears, look you straight in the eye and lie to your face. That's what bothers me. Forget the fact that while we're on a bus we hear other passengers discussing what they paid for a ticket and it's half what we paid. I'll pay whatever they want if they'll just deliver.

So the bus ride was horrific. But it had it's bright spots. The scenery was gorgeous. Lake Titikaka is beautiful. We spent several hours just driving around it. I'll post some photos of the ride.

We finally rolled into La Paz about 6 p.m. on Palm Sunday. So there was a market outside of town that took an hour to get through. Throngs of people lined the highway selling and buying goods. And as a side note, South American figures of Christ are the bloodiest I've ever seen. They really depict the suffering. I assume the Passion was a big hit here. But when you suffer so much in your own life, it's easy to concentrate on the suffering of your savior. Especially since the message is, "Suffer in this life, and have eternal bliss for eternity." It's a popular message, and Christianity is huge in Latin America.

But coming over the mountain and seeing La Paz lit up in the valley below was an amazing sight. It's the highest capital in the world at 3650 meters. Bolivia is also the poorest country in South America, and it doesn't take long to see how this manifests itself. It's the most abject poverty I've ever seen. Keep in mind that Peru, Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras aren't exactly cosmopolitan. Bolivia is just that poor.

So that's a quick synopsis. Let me just reiterate that it felt like the day would never end. It took us 26 hours to get from Aguas Calientes to La Paz. I think it's probably 500 miles as the crow flies. Long, long trip.

That night we ate Chinese food and crashed out in our lovely hotel room. We splurged. Nice room, nice view, private bathroom, 24 hour hot water, cable TV. It put us back almost $14 a night. Oh, and since Bolivia is poor, it's also dirt cheap.
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