La Paz - The city that touches the sky

Trip Start Jun 08, 2012
Trip End Aug 16, 2013

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Sunday, May 19, 2013

After finishing our salt flats tour we had planned to take the train out of Uyuni heading for La Paz as we had heard this was the safer and more comfortable option.  However in Bolivia at this time there were lots of protests going on and the train had been suspended as a result, so we hopped on the night bus from Uyuni and got settled into the back seat. We'd been talking about how lots of tourists get mugged on buses and we spent ages splitting our money, cards, cameras and memory cards into various pockets of our clothes and bags.  At first Anna was alone and we thought that maybe she would get lucky and have 2 seats to herself. Then a guy got on at the last minute, he seemed young and sweet enough and we decided it could have been a lot worse. How wrong we were… He spent the first 10 minutes of the journey trying to say his name was La Paz. He was drinking a beer and we quickly realised he was already drunk. Great. He talked on the phone for 10 minutes after giving up talking to us then promptly passed out pretty much on top of Anna. It was the bumpiest bus and both mine and Nadine's seatbelts weren't working. We were bumped out of our seats countless times. I even cracked my head on the ceiling on one of them!  After a couple of hours had past, it was still really bumpy, we could see out the window that we'd been less than a foot away from crashing into another bus and we already knew the roads were really bad and that Bolivian drivers have a reputation of driving drunk, we stopped worrying about all our positions being stolen and just
wanted to make it off alive. The roads didn't get less bumpy and awful until about half way through the 11 hour journey. I've never been so happy to get out of a vehicle. Thankfully Nadine had booked us into a triple room very close to the bus station. We had to wait to check in
but they had free all you can eat pancakes breakfast with dulce de leche and jam so when we got there we dropped our bags and tucked in.

After a while we heard loud bangs sounding like guns going off
outside. The security guard put the metal window shutters down and someone explained
the political stuff that had been going on and apparently these type of protests had been going on every day for the last 2 weeks. We moved upstairs to the sky bar in the hostel to watch from a safer distance. There was a guy from Colorado (Corey) up there who I got talking to until we could check in and get into bed for a couple hours. After our cat nap, we went out to explore the city. We loved the energy in La Paz and the fact that we could walk around and not see very many tourists at all. We went to local markets and wandered around until it was time for a quiet night.

The next day, the plan was to check out the witches market, go on a walking tour of the city and for the girls to go to get their hair done/cut. It had been months so they were really excited. The protesting had started again near the hostel around the same time as the day before but it was fine to be out in it, we just avoided being right next to it. We ran in Corey while we were shopping and he joined us for the day. We knew the witches market was meant to have lots of lotions, potions and pills you can buy to improve sexual health, make people fall for you etc etc. They also have baby llama foetuses but we've got no idea what they're for!  And to be honest, I don't think I want to
know!  We were laughing at all the potions & strange packets of things you could buy.  We missed the walking tour because the hairdressers took longer than expected but still went to
check out the infamous prison and then went for a wander around the city ourselves.  We spotted a big green space on the map and ended up heading there and stumbled upon a children's museum when we spent our afternoon relaxing and making friendship bracelets and playing with Bolivian kids.

The next day, we got up and ready for our cycle down Death Road!  Death road is great downhill run starting at 4400m (above sea level) and going down to about 1000m.  There's lots of tour companies that offer to lead you in a mountain biking trip down the 63km and we were lucky
enough to just have Nadine, Anna and I plus one other guy – Manik. At the top it was freezing (literally – there was snow!) We got kitted out
with trousers, jackets, knee and elbow pads and a helmet. There was a girl staying in our hostel we'd been talking to the night before and she had a nasty spill a few weeks previously and needed stitches on her chin, nose, and chest so Nadine and I opted for the full face helmet
just to be safe.  The scenery was stunning and we were all really excited to get moving.  The first part was all paved but then we went off road and things got more interesting.  It was raining pretty much the whole ride which might have made it slightly less scary īcause we couldn’t actually see down the 100m drops!  Nadine was loving it and zooming down in first place, closely followed by Anna and then Manik
who didnīt quite live up to his name and apparently fell off several times but never mentioned it!!  I held up the rear!  It was a lot of fun and we were all happy to finish with no real injuries.  We celebrated our victory with a beer (and a cuba libra) at the bottom!

Anna was staying where the ride finished and heading a different way to us so we said our sad goodbyes to her and headed back for La Paz. I went out for a couple of drinks with Corey and attempted to have some Thai food. What I was given was very good however it was definitely
not Thai green curry! 

Nadine and I could have stayed a bit longer in La Paz but time pressed us forward and we left the next day headed for Lake Titicaca.
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