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La Paz - Bolivia

Written on: Thursday January 21st, 2010

A journal entry from: South America

January 6th - 12th

We hopped on the bus to La Paz expecting a fairly easy 8 hour day time journey. Unfortunately it turned out to be a very frustrating and tiring 12 hour one! Everything was fine until we tried to cross the border into Bolivia. What should have been an easy crossing took ages and we had to change buses as well. Nobody knew what was happening and we ended up staying there for 4 hours, never knowing if we were going to leave or not! The border is through a mountain pass at an altitude of 4700m and we had come from sea level that day. The altitude didnīt exactly make us feel any better about the delay.... However, we got there in the end.

We were excited to be in Bolivia, and happy to get to La Paz. We could immediately see many differences to Chile. As it says in our guidebook Bolivia is the hemisphereīs highest, most isolated and most rugged nation. It has the highest proportion of indigenous people (60% of the 8.8 million population) in South America and is also the poorest country. One of the most striking sights in La Paz is the many indigenous Aymara women with very colourful clothes and distinctive hats, often selling food and other products in the streets.

The road into La Paz winds down the valley that surrounds the city. La Paz sprawls up the sides of the valley with the centre of town at the bottom. It is an amazing spectacle, with mountains providing a backdrop to the city. It is also very busy! People drive like maniacs and we were amazed not to see any accidents.

Coming to La Paz after two long and tiring bus rides we felt that we needed a rest. Also as La Paz is at an altitude of 3660m, on the altiplano (high plains of Peru, Bolivia and Chile), we needed some time to adjust. Fortunately we had booked a nice hotel in a quiet location outside the centre, that we had found on the internet. It was an apartment hotel so we had a kitchen and living room as well as bedroom. It was French owned and very stylish with lots of original art in the rooms. It was very nice and relaxing so we stayed for a bit longer than we had originally thought.

We didnīt do too much in the city except stroll around town and visit the "witches market", where all kinds of remedies for ailments are sold along with llama fetuses.......One thing we did enjoy was a great "British Indian" curry in the Star of India. There were lots of Brits there and one of them was Geoff who we had met many months ago in Belize! It was nice to see him and hear what he had been up to.

We sorted out a trip to the Amazon jungle with a travel agents, that we had read about and really wanted to do. We were very excited about going deep into the primary jungle and visiting an indigenous owned and run "eco-lodge". Unfortunately the weather was bad in the rainforest (raining!) and so the flight we had booked was cancelled. This is not uncommon and so we decided that we would have to go on the bus, which we had considered in the first place anyway. The bus ride was going to be 18hrs so we didnīt look forward to that!



From Uncle Peter on Jan 23rd, 2010

Just because I haven't been commenting doesn't mean I haven't been keeping an eye on you! I'll be in the Amazon next Thursday... maybe we could meet up again... if you know of a convenient tree..

From Andy & Yasmin on Jan 24th, 2010

Hi Pete, where will you be ? We are out of the jungle and in Cuzco now and probably in Lima on Friday, so no convenient trees near us now!