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La Paz, Day 3

Written on: Tuesday July 31st, 2007

A journal entry from: Bolivia, Peru, and the Galapagos!

Today I had a simple mission: go to the bank again, find some post cards, and figure out how to meet up with my tour group.

First, the bank. I have to pay for part of my trip in cash ($450US) here in Bolivia. They say it keeps costs low because they don't have to transfer money to the local agents here if we bring cash with us. I know it sounds sketchy, but it seems to be a standard practice with these types of tours no matter which travel agent you choose. For example, the local travel agent paid for our flight to Sucre tomorrow, which only cost them $65 including tax. I'm sure it would be more expensive had the US travel agent booked it. I was a little bit nervous about wandering the streets of La Paz with more than $400US in my wallet, but I made it back to my hotel safely and have stashed the cash.

I also stopped by the local travel agent, which is in the hotel next door, to pick up my airline ticket to Sucre. The travel agency was very modern and all the agents spoke English, so I'm confident this whole thing is not a scam (yet). Our flight to Sucre was supposed to leave at 9:50am tomorrow, but it seems it was moved to 3:50pm. I guess this is how these small airlines operate (ask about my experience booking with Bahamas Air for Christiane's wedding this November). Its a bit disappointing, cause it means I have to stay another day in La Paz (which I'm getting a bit bored of at this point, not to mention I have to spend two more days here before going to Peru) and we have less time in Sucre. Oh well. In any case, it looks like I don't meet my tour group until tomorrow when we catch our shuttle to the airport. There are 8 women and 1 man on the Bolivian portion of my tour, that's about all I know of them at this point. Once we get to Sucre, a shuttle will take us to our hotel where we meet "Lola", our group leader.

Next on my checklist for today was to find some post cards. I've been looking for them for the past couple days, but I haven't spotted any. In the US and Europe, postcards can be found on every street corner, but such is not the case in La Paz. I finally found some in a (tourist) market and paid $0.20US each for them, which doesn't seem like much of a bargain, but I guess you can only expect low prices on items that a Bolivian would also want to buy.

Next, as I strolled along the Prado, I encountered a mini parade. It was led by a band and followed by hundreds of young children. I don't know the real purpose of it, but it was cute. Later, I encountered some sort of march through the streets. The people were fairly peaceful, but they were shooting something loud (guns? fireworks?) into the air. The police had blocked off the entrances to the Plaza where the Presidential Palace was located, and also they had blocked off the Plaza San Francisco. I think these sorts of marches are quite common around La Paz, so nobody seemed phased by it.