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Irene's Adventures

Bolivia - La Paz

BOLIVIA | Tuesday, 28 May 2013 | Views [419]

LA PAZ, BOLIVIA

 Bolivia   Bol

 

The next morning we caught a very early bus to take us to La Paz, Bolivia. This bus was not like the nice we had to Puno. This was a standard Greyhound type bus, but instead of the toilet at the back it appeared as though someone decided to take out a couple of seats in the middle of the bus and install a toilet – with no ventilation. Unfortunately for me, I was seated across from this makeshift toilet. Early on in the 7 hour bus ride people were using this toilet, but as the day wore on and it got hotter, the smell was preventing anyone from venturing into it. As long as the door was kept shut it didn't smell too bad.

The border crossing into Bolivia was uneventful. We got off the bus, queued for the immigration office, had a brief moment to change money across the street, cross the bridge into Bolivia, queue for another immigration office, find a dodgy toilet, get back on the bus and off again. Easy!

The country side was quite barren, almost desert like, with the snow capped Andes off in the distance.

Andes in Bolivia

 

 

When we got to La Paz we were told to look out the right side of the bus for a giant monument to Che Guevara made out of recycled auto parts that is stepping on an American Bald Eagle (also made out of recycled car parts). Che got assassinated in Bolivia.

Che Guevara

 

The bus stopped at the top of the ridge that overlooks La Paz, home to nearly 1 million people. I felt like I was looking at a human ant pile.

 La Paz

 

We checked into the Eva Palace Hotel, then went out to find a restaurant. The restaurant was an unusual eclectic assortment of oddities – old clocks, old guns, matchbooks, coffee grinders, etc. We had alpaca, it tasted like minute steak.

 

We only had a few hours left of daylight so some of us went to the Witch's Market, which was about a block from our hotel. Talk about eclectic! Llama fetuses were the feature of the market, with dried frogs and some llama hooves to round things out. Dried llama fetuses are buried under the earth and an estimated 99 percent of all families in Bolivia have one under the foundation of their home for good luck.

llama fetus 
witch's market

 

Interestingly, we went to a Thai restaurant for dinner that night, which was the last night all 12 of us would be together again. 2 of us were heading home the next day, one was venturing off on a private Amazon jungle tour, a few were carrying on in Bolivia, and a few were leaving for other parts of South America.

To get to the restaurant, Michael (our tour leader), had us follow him to a busy intersection near our hotel and had us stay really close together in a group. We were about to find out why.   As a taxi van pulled up to the lights, he went over and basically offered the taxi driver double the fare to take us to the restaurant.  The taxi driver turned to the group of people already in his taxi and said "Get out".  This must be common in Bolivia, or at least La Paz, because they all got out, smiling and laughing, while we piled in.  The lights changed and off we went leaving the other group standing on the sidewalk. 

The next day I caught a plane to Santa Cruz, Bolivia then to Miami then to Seattle then to Edmonton.

 

In summary, I am glad I came on this tour, as I was traveling alone. However, I would definitely like to go back, with my husband, and take more time in most of the cities as well as venture outside of them a bit. I have some basic knowledge of Peru from this tour, but as most tours, they take you to the tourist spots that have cut a deal with the tour company and that jack the prices when they see the bus pull up. Most of the cities have so much more to offer than what we saw, requiring many days to look around, not the few hours that we had.

 

Peru and Bolivia, I will be back!

 

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