We have now made it to the airport and cleared customs, immigration and security only just, I forgot I had a nail file in my hand luggage. We will see if we make it out of the airport in Lima though, Samuel has his unlit firecrackers in his shoes in his check in luggage, ummmmmahhhh. This altitude is killing me, I was waiting in line at checking and I was breathless, I was just standing there! I look forward to not being breathless all the time and being able to eat and walk, it is a favourite pastime of mine but I have been unable to do so here in La Paz.
The city is not much to look at up close, lots of people, traffic, lots of rubbish and buildings in need of improvement and renovation but it's location is amazing high up in the mountains far from sea level set in a valley which looks like a bowl
. The city contains a mix of 19th century balcony buildings, 20th century developement, littered with the odd gothic churches that didn't get destroyed by revolutions and then houses and buildings ascending up the sides of this bowl, then backdropped by snow topped mountains, blue sky, clouds. The altitude is not the only thing to take your breath away. Although I have hated walking around La Paz because it is inevitable that you will have to walk up a hill, we have had fun here. The mix of modern and traditional dress. The ladies that still wear the felt hat with their shawls and shimmery, frilly skirts, apparently it was in the height of fashion at the turn of the 20th century. Middle class ladies wore this outfit as it was what they wore in Spain ( in the 16th century). The hats came in fashion for ladies when a surplus of the wrong color hats were shipped in for the men from Italy, so the ladies started wearing them. Hats worn on the side of the head meant you were unmarried, on top of you head meant you were married. Another La Paz side note is the prescence of the police on the streets, stationed at strategic corners near Plaza Murrillo with their riot gear and metal street barricades handy to set up at a moments notice. Before we flew in to LaPaz the Australian government sent out travel warnings for Bolivia to avoid gatherings that could turn into violent and into out of hand demonstrations. The ones we happened to see starting up seemed gentle enough, but we avoided the crowds and steered clear of any excitement
. On the whole Bolivians have been friendly and helpful, some did have trouble counting our adding up our sub-totals but we almost always walked away with the right change. We always managed to find tasty food to fill our bellies, hearty soups with chunks of meat , rice, grains and potatoes included, chicken and chips, pizza, BBQ pork with corn and potatoes and tasted some interesting flavored ice cream. Burgers were always disappointing as the buns were always dry and the meat had a mutton fat smell to it, but we leave Bolivia with satisfied bellies that occasionally had issues but satisfied. Actually one of our favourite meals was from a Cuban restaurant, a black bean side dish with our meat dishes was beautiful, considering that I did hear that the Cuban meat of choice is spam we had a grat Cuban meal in Bolivia. One last mention, our taxi and bus drivers. We may have made the same trip previously but the fares were always a different price, always cheap but you had to laugh at the varying prices each driver charged. The horns, always an offensive driving tool that told vehicles and pedestrians "to get out of the way"!!! Our bus drivers fair enough had Bolivian roads to deal with but they were some crazy, bumpy and memorable rides.
Seems to be a bit of trouble brewing in the departure lounge, they have cancelled the Santiago, Chile flight 2nd day in a row and the Chileans are not happy. A lot of raised voices at the Security check point as they let staff know how upset they are and now they are chanting and ticked off. Sorry we are off to Lima and at the moment the flight from Santa Cruz has been delayed and that is our only drama.
We leave Bolivia with a view to one day return so it's "Hasta Luego ", we have seen some spectacular things, eaten, gotten sick, had fun and been breathless but it has been great.
Well we are just in our hostel foyer waiting to get picked up to go to the airport. We have spent a fine time here in Bolivia, we didn't get to do everything but we did what we could but we are leaving satisfied.