Back to La Paz for a brief stop over

Trip Start Apr 12, 2011
Trip End Apr 01, 2012

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Flag of Bolivia  , La Paz,
Friday, July 15, 2011

We need to head back to La Paz for a night in order to get the bus to Copacabana and so we try a different hostel called Adventure Brew Hostel (it brews its own beer – I wonder who picked this hostel). This hostel seems a lot more to our liking, with a big open bar with views of the city and the people are a lot more chilled.  Plus you can claim a free beer every evening.  So we have a final wander round La Paz, go for dinner in Sol y Luna which was probably one of our best meals in Bolivia – we both opted for steak, must be getting withdrawals after Argentina.   On the way back to the hostel, we pass the parades that are celebrating the patron saint of La Paz.  Suddenly the constant band practice that we have seen and heard makes sense – they are into their brass bands in a big way.  And the parade is impressive, everyone is well turned out and you can see a lot of practice has gone into the parades.  Unfortunately they are let down by the organisation, something blocks the parade down the road and so half the people press on with organised route which looks dangerous as it's an enclosed space and people are rocking the traffic stuck in the crowd, the other half of the parade take a detour and so it kind of falls apart.  The twenty police officers, more interested in their own conversation, at the side of the road do absolutely nothing but look on as this all happens which is a shame as a lot of people had gathered to watch.  We decide to head on in case it all kicks off which is pretty likely in Bolivia.  Then up to the hostel to pick up our free beers and listen to some live music.  Next morning we are picked up at the hostel after pancakes for breakfast – feels like luxury to be picked up, we got the special tourist bus – next stop Lake Titicaca, highest navigable lake in the world. 

As this is a short entry we thought we would share some of our Bolivian observations... written while staying in Sucre...

Ten things we’ve learnt about Bolivia so far...

  • Toilets – ok, so where do we start - of varying standards, never too pleasant and a lot of people seem to think it’s not necessary to use them. It does seem normal to go 'au natural’ within 2 feet of a taxi or mini-bus (and this is not just the men!)
  • Buses – similar to toilets of varying standards, most not too pleasant especially if you’re standing on the street next to the black smoke they pump out.  But we’ve realised it’s always best to choose the most expensive bus company – it’s worth it.
  • Random vehicle imports – 2 examples of this: Sucre has taken to importing old Japanese mini-busses... complete with Japanese writing down the side – we even spotted a bus with ‘Japanese School of Drumming Team’.  Another example: Getting a taxi the other day we realised there was a rather strange front passenger seat – complete with speedometer, fuel gauge etc... they had simply swapped the steering wheel to the left hand side, leaving all useful gauges to the passenger side! Who needs a speedometer in Bolivia anyway?!?
  • Mandatory use of horn – to drive in Bolivia, in particular a taxi, it is mandatory to blast the horn at every corner or intersection. Could be to do with the absolute lack of driving rules at intersections... whoever is first and loudest wins.
  • Service – always pleasant but never prompt, leaving an hour and a half for lunch is pushing it and never try to get a taxi when the football is on – when we finally managed to get a taxi he wasn’t very happy about having to work during the Bolivia – Costa Rica game.
  • Showers – of dubious quality. A ‘good quality’ shower consists of a shower head with electric wires coming out all ends, producing what could only be described as a luke warm trickle. And this is where there is a luxury of ‘hot showers’ advertised.
  • Sugar – seems to appear everywhere. Including beers...strange. Their local inca dark ale was particularly sweet.
  • Cheap – and we can’t complain on this one. Best deal so far – 2 glasses of wine at happy hour for 1.10 – memories of Strathclyde Union anyone...?
  • Walking pace – not that the rest of South America walks much faster, but Bolivians are particularly good at mastering the ‘so slow about to fall over’ pace. However – we must be fair – they do have a very good reason. With altitudes in excess of 4000m, being here for a few weeks, we certainly understand! Jonny has even taken to slowing his pace... still insisting to fly past the locals... but considerably slower than normal London pace.
  • Pigs – along the more notable creatures that take to wandering the Bolivian streets. Along with the countless dogs, chickens, and random cows along the road side, we have noticed many pigs just randomly rummaging through bags of rubbish...

The above is all written in jest... and we are actually enjoying ourselves! Bolivia is a very interesting country, with stunning landscapes and intriguing people. Along the way in our travel we have heard many negative stories about the country – however, so far it has surpassed our expectations. But it does have many ‘interesting qualities’ which we are sure we will not see again on our travels.
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