The Highest Capital City in the World

Trip Start Mar 14, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Bolivia  , La Paz,
Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I am still in La Paz, one of South America's most interesting cities and also the highest capital city in the world at 12,000 feet.
 That's the same altitude as the highest ski lifts I used in Aspen Colorado! The city sits in what appears to be a big cereal bowl, surrounded by hills on all sides, dotted red by the brick homes that house the poor, and that lead up to the high planes and Bolivia's poorest city, El Alto. Most residents there don't even have running water, sanitation, or electricy. And considering it's extemely cold here at night, it must be a tough life. It's interesting and easy to explore here but no matter where I go I feel like I'm always walking uphill. The lack of oxygen is very apparent and it's easy to get winded and have to stop and rest. I feel like an idiot climbing the 4 flights of stairs to the rooftop terrace in the hostel and nearly collapsing on the bar, breathing like I just sprinted the 100 meter dash, and begging the bartender on duty for my daily allowance of the one free beer we can have as hostel guests. I feel stupid only until I see everyone else coming up the steps in the same condition; no one is immune. And since they didn't see me come up the stairs, I laugh at them as if I am super altitude man.
My buddy Mick from Australia, and I made the mistake yesterday of negotiating for one free beer each in exchange for carrying a new, full keg of beer up the 4 flights of stairs to the bar. We will not make this mistake again! We have decided in the future to negotiate for 2 free beers each, then go hire two youngsters who don't know the deal and offer them a free beer for carrying the keg. A free beer for us, a free beer for them, and they do all the work. With experience comes wisdom eh? I also suggested a name for the new hostel bar... "Altitude Anonymous" , but I don't know if it will catch on. We'll see.

La Paz is a cool place to walk around and watch Bolivian life go by. And that's what I've spent the last several days doing. Just walking around and trying to take pictures of the people here and what life is like in the city. But taking people photos can be difficult. If they see you taking their picture, they will demand money from the "rich" tourist. I also have a great new group of friends in the hostel so evening time is filled with beers and bar-b-ques. I'm moving on soon though..... to ???? Who knows, I still don't like making plans. I'll probably just show up at the bus station and see where the buses are going at that moment.
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