Bolivia, La Paz

Trip Start Aug 27, 2008
Trip End Oct 25, 2008

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tue 16.9.08: Peru, Puno / La Paz: full name of the city was originally Nuestra Señora de La Paz meaning ("Our Lady of Peace")

One more night in Puno then off to La Paz (beginning of Bolivia!) - a long bus ride awaits but will be scenic ride along Lake Titicaca. Border control on Bolivia side was a lengthy process. Then it was river crossing - the bus making a separate journey on the barge whilst the passengers cramped into the very small motorised boat to the other side. Stop over for lunch at a beautiful hotel, more bus ride (about 5hrs) before getting into La Paz.

The first glimpse of sky-high La Paz takes ones breath away. The city's buildings cling to the sides of the canyon and spill spectacularly downwards.

The city's inhabitants are what make La Paz place unforgettable. Many of the women wear traditional clothing every day (colorful multilayered petticoats, fringed shawls, lace aprons).

The city is one giant street market. In stalls on the sidewalks or at street corners you can buy not only batteries and chewing gum (but also dice cups, socks, hats, sneakers, cameras, computers, electric drills, bookcases, office supplies) - all displayed on the sidewalk.

At the Mercado de los Brujos (Witch Doctors' Market), one can find good-luck statuettes and all the materials required for a proper offering to Pachamama, the Earth Mother, including baskets of dried llama fetuses.

The street food carts was laden with wonderful surprises and delicious samplings - was in food heaven!

Local markets & cusines
Plaza Murillo
Cathedral Murillo
Presidential Palace
Iglesia de San Francisco
Metropolitan Cathedral
The Congress buildings
Valley of the Moon
Cathedral of San Francisco

Its elevation is 3660m. Bolivia sits in the middle (it borders with Peru, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil). Landlocked since losing access to a seacoast during the Pacific War (1879-84). Much of Bolivia is defined by the Andes Mountains.

The Spanish king (Pedro de la Gasca ) had entrusted rule over the former Inca lands, commanded Captain Alonso de Mendoza to found a new city commemorating the end of the civil wars in Peru. Then the city of La Paz was founded in 1548. In 1549, a design of an urban plan was planned to designate sites for public areas, plazas, official buildings and cathedral.

In 1809 the struggle for independence from the Spanish rule brought uprisings against the royalist forces. This formally marked the beginning of the voice of revolution across South America from Spain. In 1898 La Paz was made the seat of the national government (Sucre remaining the nominal historical as well as judiciary capital). This change reflected the shift of the Bolivian economy away from the silver mines of Potosí. Since Bolivian independence in 1825 the republic has endured 192 changes of leadership.
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