A Travellerspoint blog

Bolivia

A LITTLE COCAINE WITH YOUR ALPACA SHAWL ANYONE?

SEEING THE BEAUTY AND THE DARK SIDE OF LA PAZ

sunny 14 °C

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La Paz is a beautiful city and we had a chance to explore it first with our guide Juan and later by ourselves.

First we went to a high point to get a view of the city below.

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Next stop was the Moon Valley which was named after Neil Armstrong visited and described the landscape to be just like a moon valley. Of course it was a less developed back then but the combination of rain on the mud makes an interesting landscape.

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We stopped at another high view point before heading down to the local square where Isaac once again joined the police for a photo op. There were lots of locals enjoying a Sunday afternoon.

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Check out the numbers on the clock. The designer thought this is how it should look in the southern hemisphere.

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After lunch, we visited the famous witches’ market which is really more of a handicraft market. There are a few shops that sell supplies for black and white magic which is still practiced today in Bolivia. In addition, llama fetuses are used for sacrifice in the region. There were all these silly looking gods as well. They looked more like dolls.

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We had a quick look there before spending the afternoon poking in and out of shops. We did notice some locals selling drugs but they were not interfering at all. But, at one point while the grownups were looking at the alpaca products, a drug dealer approached the kids to see if they were interested in cocaine. When I approached and asked what was happening, I heard him say something about the “madre”, Spanish for mother and that was the end of that.

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We stopped by San Francisco Cathedral before making our way back to the hotel in time to catch our overnight bus to Uyuni. The bus left La Paz at 9pm and arrived at 7pm. The bus was comfortable with seats that reclined almost flat so we all got a reasonable amount of sleep. A big step up from our hippie bus ride the day before.

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popcorn

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These ladies are called chola derived from the Spanish for pretty.

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Posted by curlygirl 02:55 Archived in Bolivia Tagged bolivia salt flats uyuni Comments (2)

FROM PERU TO BOLIVIA

VERY DIFFERENT BUS RIDES IN TWO VASTLY DIFFERENT COUNTRIES

sunny 22 °C

This has been a crazy, hectic and surreal day as we crossed from Peru in Bolivia.

Our day began at 7 am and we made our way to the bus terminal for the long journey to La Paz, Bolivia, the highest administrative capital in the world, resting on the Andes’ Altiplano plateau at more than 3,500m above sea level.

Our bus was lovely and we had front row seats on the second level so enjoyed a really nice view. It was well organized and about 2 hours in we stopped just prior to the Bolivian border to change money. This is what $200 usd got me, 1350 Bolivianos. Then we moved on to Peruvian immigration which was quick and easy. We then walked 5 minutes across the border into Bolivia and visited immigration there, which was equally as quick.

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Immediately upon crossing into Bolivia we knew were in a very different place. Bolivia is the poorest of all the South American countries and it shows. But the landscape and houses looked different too.

After another 20 minutes, our bus dropped us at Copacabana, Bolivia, where we had 15 minutes to eat, pee and transfer to our Bolivian bus to La Paz which was vastly different. It was run down with no bathrooms and very little leg room ( although the back of the bus said we were VIP). 45 minutes in we had another stop where we were told to get off the bus, pay 2 Bolivianos and take a boat across a little river while the bus went across the water on a barge. We barely had time to pee when they were yelling at me “meesus, get on da bus, now!”. We were no longer being pampered as we had been in Peru, we were cattle being moved along. We then had a 3 hour drive to La Paz that turned into 4.5 hours.

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Approaching La Paz there was major construction and later tons of traffic due to a festival. Today is a holiday, Independence day for Bolivia. We were stuck in traffic forever and I really wondered what kinda dump we were coming to. Ironically every now and then you would see a couple that looked so done up they reminded me of a fancy scene from a movie in the old days. One thing I noticed immediately is all the woman in the Bowler hats. Introduced in the 1800s by the British, they were somehow adopted by the woman and not the men.

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Traffic

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Finally, we caught the most spectacular view of the mountains and La Paz sitting deep in the valley. I hope we get a chance to see that view. It any case, it gave me hope.

We were met by our transportation agent who brought us to our hotel and we were blown away. It is simply gorgeous. It is a colonial house dating from 1832, with a Colonial style architecture, located in the historic center of the city of La Paz. It is restored retaining 80% of the original construction. It is like stepping back in time with antiques everywhere. Many important figures in Bolivian history lived in this house. Our room is gorgeous but Lorna and Sharon have a loft, one with a bed and stain glass windows. Isaac says it is our best hotel ever.

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We finally get a sleep in tomorrow, staring a city tour at 9:30 (we have changed time zones so are now only 1.5 hours earlier than Newfoundland). Tomorrow night at 9pm, we take an overnight bus for 12 hours to Uyuni. We have been assured that will be a better bus. I definitely won’t be posting tomorrow but will when I can.

I did not take out my camera today but I grabbed a few shots with my point and shoot and through the bus window.

Otherwise all is well and we are feeling better with the altitude. Hopefully we have finally adjusted. We are very excited to experience Bolivia.

Apparently they eat llama here.

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Posted by curlygirl 23:08 Archived in Bolivia Tagged la bolivia paz copacabana Comments (2)

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