La Paz

Trip Start Sep 28, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

Loading Map
Map your own trip!
Map Options
Show trip route
Hide lines

Flag of Bolivia  ,
Friday, May 25, 2012

Once again the boys are back in town as I'm reunited with Paddy, who finds me standing outside The San Francisco church with ease, as my white face sticks out amongst all the Inca heads.  We've not much planned for the day, except to organise our death road mountain bike run tomorrow.  We have a leisurely afternoon wandering the city, taking in the crazy organised chaos that is the 'Witches Market'.  Contrary to Peru, the first shop I enter has more than one Bolivian flag sticker.  In fact, it has pretty much all the other South American countries too.  It's clear that Bolivia thrives and relies heavily on tourism, with hundreds of shops selling similar products at dirt cheap prices.  I pick up a beautiful acoustic guitar bag with hand stitched Inca and Llama motifs.  It costs me 7.  I draw the line at buying a stuffed dead Llama head, in spite of it being a traditional offering to 'Pacha Mama'.  Perhaps my sister would like one.

Once again the choices for tours, treks and excursions are mind boggling.  Much like it's neighbour, Bolivian tour guides seem to all offer the same trip, each with a different perk or quirk, each with a slightly different price.  Do you want elbow pads or not?  Do you prefer a black or a green T-shirt?  Would you like to die or to survive?  There is something for every budget, but please don't cut any corners as sharp as those on the death road itself.

We've opted for Barracuda Biking, which is a new company offering decent bikes, knowledgeable guides and the best souvenir shirt should you complete the death defying decent.  One review on Trip Adviser suggests it's all about which T-shirt you want at the end.  I assure you it isn't.  Some companies are clearly more well versed than others.  You can go down on a well maintained ride with shocks and disk breaks, or you can opt for a rickety machine that wouldn't pass a cycling proficiency exam.  You pays your money and you takes your choice.  45 quid seems like a decent deal.  I hope they can keep me alive.

On the surface La Paz looks like someone has thrown a load of bricks into a valley.  In reality it looks like someone has thrown a load of bricks into a valley.  Spend some time here and it might grow on you, but to the naked eye and ear it's a riot of traffic, fumes, crazy streets and no organisation.  It offers little in the way of colonial architecture that perhaps other capitals can in the region, but what it lacks in aesthetics, it clearly makes up for in heart.  Much like Glasgow.

I find myself with a load of pigeons on my head in the main presidential square.  There are literally thousands of them, all being hand fed by locals and tourists alike.  The vendors selling the seeds and corn are making a killing.  I've had a notion to cover myself with the stuff, so I'm looking like Brenda Fricker in Home Alone 2.  It's good for laugh, at least until I develop the plague.

With the city seen as much as we manage and the death road booked, there is little to do but hit the hay early, praying that I get through tomorrow.  This after a fantastic two course dinner in an Asian restaurant, which costs me about 4.  You might have noticed I've mentioned prices in this entry on more than one occasion.  Bolivia is cheap.  Cheap with a capital cheap.  It's around 10 Bolivianos to the pound at the moment.  No wonder so many people get stuck here partying their lives away.  Pissed for under a tenner.  It's not been like that since those underage days at The New Inn, Wetherby.  Ten quid for four Tetleys, off my face and enough for a bag of chips.  I love Bolivia.

For some reason I'm drawn to looking at death road statistics back at the hostel.  Apparently a land rover full of people went over the edge last week, killing all.  In 1983 106 people died when a bus went over the edge.  Every year cyclists are either killed or injured.  They don't call it The Death Road for nothing then.  In my dreams I have visions of peddling over the edge, convinced I have a base jumping parachute in my back pack.  Coupled with the banging Friday night party going on in the dive below, needless to say it's a very uneasy sleep.

Slideshow Report as Spam
  • Your comment has been posted. Click here or reload this page to see it below.

  • You must enter a comment
  • You must enter your name
  • You must enter a valid name (" & < > \ / are not accepted).
  • Please enter your email address to receive notification
  • Please enter a valid email address

Use this image in your site

Copy and paste this html: