LaPaz and Marching Powder Fantasy

Trip Start Aug 23, 2008
Trip End Sep 28, 2008

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Friday, September 12, 2008

A couple of hours in a comfy bus through lovely countryside before we hit the Bolivia border crossing... no big problem apart from the fact that 2 buses arrived at once so about 100 of us needed the one guy sitting at the little card table to stamp our passports.... ho hum..

Back on to a different bus.. I guess the Peru bus wasnt allowed into Bolivia.. and it was another couple of hours until we reached the lovely lakeside town of Copacabana.  Cynthia tried to head us all to a restaurant for lunch but Rob and I wernt hungry...(probably all the junk food wed been eating for the past 2 hours!...sigh... we didnt know we were having a hours or so lunch stop!!).. so we wandered off by ourselves and found a little restaurant with a lovely sunny courtyard and sat to have a coffee...

This was one of those lucky decisions as sitting at the next table were a couple (geez Ill have to go back in here and edit cos I cant bl..dy remember their names.... how rude of me!)
... anyway....they must have heard our accents as they started to chat while we had our coffee and it turned out that the girl was an aussie from country NSW who'd been living in the UK and Spain for years and for the past 3 years shed joined her boyfiend and they both had been sailing the a job.. theyve been everywhere!

We found out a couple of days later when we met up again  -that for work  they had been sailing the world - him as the captain and she as the cook/crew.  Theyd been working  for a rich guy looking after his boat.  They would just hang around doing maintence on the boat or whatever until he gave them a call and he tell them to have the boat in Nice in France in 3 weeks time where hed fly and met them and so theyd sail it down there and then crew it for eg. his 2 week holiday.  Hed then fly back to the UK and theyd sail the boat to the next place he instructed... and hang there until they heard from him or his relatives again...they did insist that it was harder work than it sounded.heee hee.

After the coffee a quick walk down to the lakeside and then it was time for back on the bus.. It took us through the hills to the ferry crossing where we all bailed out again onto a little boat while the bus was driven onto a barge for the lake crossing.

We arrived into LaPaz late afternoon. Coming into the city was fascinating as it sits in a deep bowl surrounded by steep hills.. so as our bus zig zagged down the hills LaPaz sat waiting for us at the bottom... all brown in colour and once again a unique place not like wed seen before.

The bus dropped us at our hotel door and we waved goodbye to Doug and...!!! whod been sitting at the back of our bus since leaving Copacabana.

We checked in at the hotel and off we all went for a walk around the city... looked in at San Francisco church which is right opposite our hotel and then up to the Plaza de Armas where we came across all the riot police... Many places in Bolivia had been rioting the day before (common occurrance here and often disrupts travel). 30 people had been killed in one of the cities.  We were told that one of the unpopular politicians was coming to the Plaza for a press conference so the riot police were clearing everyone out.

We all took a few quick photos... cameras often get taken from you in these cities if they see you taking photos of something they dont want you a couple of quickies as we were walking away as those guns are pretty impressive.

Our group all had dinner together that night and then bed for Rob and I as we were exhausted from the bus. 

Next day there was a 6 hour tour to some ruins so Rob and I decided to give it a miss and just check out the city. 

We wandered and at mid morning stopped at a local speciality restaurant selling Saltanas which is like a pasty thing with beans,meat and egg but mostly gravy in it.  We wanted to try it as its the standard Saturday and Sunday morning food for all Bolivians... I guess its like us having a special sunday brunch... they all love these on weekends for breakfast and so restaurants and food carts are selling them everywhere.  They were a bit disappointing but maybe it was the cook....heee.

As we walked past the church in the plaza de armas and it was open for the Sunday morning service.  We walked in and around the edges as the service was being conducted and I was so glad we did... all the Bolivian woman were there in the usual gear plus bowler hats but they all had sequinned and tizzy shawls on! - all in bright pinks, blues, yellows - wonderful and so sparkly... its their "church or going out clothes!) I say glad we saw them because there was so many dolls being sold in the shops with these shawls and Id thought theyd looke stupid and Id figured theyd just used any left over material to make the dolls pretty but were not tradional (therefore stupid..he) - but here all the women were dressed in these shawls! - looked wonderful

Late afternoon and back at the hotel and... our very good friends...hee..yep Im rude... anyway our mates from the day before were down in reception asking for us at the hotel... we went down and on chatting found out that.....sigh..."the guy"... rob thinks its Doug.... so that will do for now..hee... Doug speaks fluent Spanish! bonus!

Years ago he'd had a spanish girlfriend for a few years...hence the spanish.....anyway.. they had come to the hotel to say they had checked out what the go was in La Paz during the day and found that the International Jazz festival was on in the city and they were going to a jazz club that night did we want to go?... .. and the next day... yep that was planned too.... did we want to join them for the day and just share the taxi price..(wed get one for the whole day as it makes it relaxing to go where we say and wait each time) -sounded great! we're in!... A fluent spanish speaking Pom and an Aussie who were both fun.. how lucky was this.  

The only thing I told them that I had really wanted to do was go and have a look at the outside of San Petro Jail as I had read the great book Marching Powder - true story of a Pom and an Aussie in the Jail - and just had to see what this prison looked like! - Doug (Im sure thats not his name!...sigh) ... Doug got all excited... he said no probs wed take the taxi there first as hed already gone there that day as hed read the book too! He was rapt to go again as his girlfriend hadnt read the book like Rob so hed been high as a kite going there that day but had to enjoy it by himself as she didnt "get it" - So he said yeah yeah well go again.... anyone whos read the book would appreciate the excitement of seeing the place! ...hee

So a great day and night was had... We went to San Pedro.. it was exciting! just imagining everything from the book ... I could even see washing up on the roof that had been put out  through a skylight window to dry... would definitely be in the  5 star block!!!  - and as we walked the perimeter, the side door was open and I could see a red sign -

Im sure it's the coca cola sign!- that is mentioned often in the book.  Doug and I were rapt!.. just imagining the steps and the balcony above and we decided that this side door would be where the rich ones all come and go - what a buzz!.. and the beer stalls at one end of the block - I could just imagine the prinsoners coming and going with beer runs..hee.. anyway it was so good to see the place...everyone should read this great book.... and written by an Aussie too.(and now a movie)

Then taxi up to a park overlooking the city and back into the main drag where all stalls stages were set up with jazz entertainers from all around the world.  It was funny to find that the most popular and admired South American flute music muso is Japanese! - He has cult following.. and yep he was good on the flute (or whatever the wooden flute thingo is called in Bolivia).  

We spent a few hours here and it was great. - bit like hanging out at the StKilda festival on a sunny Sunday..heee  Then back in the taxi to go into one of the suburbs which Doug had heard had good restaurants that were popular with the locals for family lunch get together on Sundays. 

Lovely couple of hours of lunch in a truly authentic restaurant with no stress as Doug did all the ordering... hee hee

Then onto Moon Valley which has amazing rock formations and only 15 minutes outside of LaPaz... very strange and beautiful.

Ok were exhausted.. back to the hotel for a shower and then we met up again for dinner .. Rob and I told our group back at the hotel where we were going and they all turned up so a good night was had..... and hopefully Ill remember this great couples name and Ill add it here!!! keep posted..hahahaha.  They are planning on coming back to Australia in about a year to settle down so maybe theyll get in touch in the future (so it would be good to remember their names then...sigh)

alert alert alert....I found the paper with "our friends" names and email details! (thank god - very frustrating)... Doug! (good old rob got it right) and..... Karina!!!!.. feel free to insert their names into the appropriate places when reading..heee
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