Llama foetuses anyone?

Trip Start Mar 01, 2003
Trip End Oct 21, 2004

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Where I stayed

Flag of Bolivia  ,
Sunday, June 1, 2003

Arrived in La Paz following a 12 hour train ride and a 7 hour bus ride where the driver insisted on repeatedly playing a tape which consisted of classic American lovesongs sang in spanish at full volume.

We got a cab to Hotel Torino where we met up with Rory and Aaron. They had been there 4 days already, and despite apparently attemptng to leave twice, theyd never managed it - feebly claiming oversleeping and hangovers. I think they were missing us too much really.

La Paz is a great city (the highest in the world), set in a valley formed by the Andes mountains. It cant expand due to its location, hence its busy as hell and there isnt an inch of land not built on. Its also rife with tourist tat stalls and the like, but also really friendly. Theres coffee shops galore, which is something I still think England is sorely lacking in, and the odd bar and cheap alcohol stall to quench our thirsts. We spent most days shoppng on the steep hills of the city where there are hundreds of stalls selling everything you could ever dream of in llama fur or alpaca. Most of us bought scarfs, hats and other warm stuff cos it gets cold at nght. Aline also had a custom made coat done for the equivalent of 15 pounds.

The most interesting stalls were in he witches market, where you can get a llama foetus for a couple of pounds or any number of herbs and potions. There were also llama toenails and little pachamamma (mother earth) statues (looks like a big fat woman) which you can have blessed. There were also pachafather statues, but we think that might have been invented for the gringos, becasue none of us had heard of him before!

By night we generally opted for the cheap, studenty option of drinking 3 pound a bottle rum in our room and talking till the early hours. Far too many times the litle rum man got me and pushed me right over, so many a next day in La Paz was spent eating cinnamon rolls and drinking strong coffee and mate de cocoa. In respect for the life giving powers of mate de coca (hot water with loads of coco leaves dunked in) we bought the Bolivian t-shirts which say (in spanish) that the coco leaf isnt a drug. (These are made in response to the Americans trying to ban the growing of the leaves because they are used to make cocaine). On their own though they are completely harmless and just serve as a bit of a kick up the bum in the morning!

One day we visited Valle de la Luna (valley of the moon) which is quite interesting because it looks like a moonscape, but was more amusing because our taxi ran off without waiting for us and we had to pile 9 of us into the one remaining taxi to get back to La Paz.

After 4 days in La Paz, we were all shopped out, and decided it was time to say goodbye to the fair city. Rory, Aaron and I decided to head off to Copocabana and Holly, Aline and Elad decided to go to to Sereta with an Israeli guy called Onn, where theres supposed to be good hiking. In what has become somewhat of a tradition, the 6 of us had last night drinks together and then frantically ran for buses the next morning with stinking hangovers. In what has also become a tradition, each of me and the boys managed to leave a little something behind for the city to remember us by. The boys left a guide book and towel and I left a scarf and some shorts. Hey I didnt need shorts where I was going anyway, but in retrospect we decided that the guidebook would have been useful! Luckily though I had my trusty photocopies of various bits of Chris's guidebook which proved invaluable, despite the boys thinking it was highly amusing that this was all I had salvaged from the split!
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