Days: 310-311 (1 May 2015 – 2 May 2015)
Total distance travelled: 58,980.6 kilometres (36,633.91 miles)
There are some that claim that Bolivia is odd, that it in fact has two capital cities, whilst there are I’m sure many who simply assume that La Paz is the capital.
Now although from what I understand, the government does now indeed sit in that very city, the official, indeed constitutional capital remains Sucre.
In truth, I knew little more before our arrival there, other than the fact that the Bolivians love to host their international football (soccer) matches there, as visiting teams often struggle with the altitude!
Now our arrival in the city was a little unplanned, in the sense that we’d expected to be spending the night in Copacabana, so therefore hadn’t done as much research as to where we might stay, or what we might do.
Fortunately Sarah had picked up a business card for a hostel at some point, so we had a destination, at least for tonight.
Unfortunately however, we didn’t arrive in the city until around 9pm and frustratingly our bus didn’t terminate at the actual bus terminal (from we could have easily found our way).
I have certainly mentioned how we rarely use taxi’s, however we figured that given the hour and the dark, and the fact we had no idea of where we were, it would likely be prudent to do so.
We flagged one down, asked if he knew the address we showed him.
He looked puzzled at first, which had as assuming we were miles from anywhere, so when he told us it would be $20.00 Bolivianos, we figured it must be a fair distance indeed.
Instead, it simply turns out that he was an arsehole (he was, no need to mince words here).
After driving us around the block, he literally dropped us off on the other side of the road from where we got in!
We had been twenty metres from where we needed to be, but couldn’t spy it in the dark.
Welcome to La Paz!
The following morning (for thankfully the hostel had room) after a dinner of Pringles the previous night, we awoke, hoping to get an impression that would help us view the city in a different light (after dropping in a long overdue load of laundry in).
With all our socks in getting a long overdue wash, it was time to crack out our thongs (flip-flops) for the first time in a while, but despite the cool high altitude air, it was nice to be able to expose our feet to a little sun!
As we’d done little other research, we referred to the top sights listed in our guidebook, of which there were few actually listed, and even fewer again that we actually felt compelled to visit.
Therefore, we decided to simply wander and after popping in at the Iglesia de San Francisco, we set off in search of one place that did sound a little interesting, the Mercado de Hechiceria, or Witches Market.
It proved however, somewhat elusive, as where our map indicated it should be, it simply wasn’t.
Figuring it couldn’t be far, we decided to wander the surrounding streets, and suddenly there it was, although it certainly wasn’t as grand or indeed mystical as we’d first imagined.
There were a few crazy pieces, such as the dead, dried Llama’s (complete with hair and all, slaughtered at varying levels of infancy) which apparently can provide protection or luck or something for the home, but most of it was just dried herbs, teas and much more mainstream tourist stuff.
At least it was here I was able to get a Bolivian flag badge for our travel collection…
Still the street on which these few shops were situated was a cute cobbled affair, and their neighbours proved to be some ‘local’ clothing stores full of the same generic products we’d seen from Ecuador down, just waiting for the tourists.
With nothing else penciled in to do, we just started to walk, spying quite a number of old colonial buildings which had some charm, and the odd picturesque plaza.
Lunch was a totally gringo affair, the lure of Fish & Chips proving too much for me, so we splurged at an English style pub and watched a little football as well.
We followed up this expensive, yet really only average feed with a walk in the park, the grand (at least it looked grand on our map) Parque Raul Salmon de la Barra to be precise.
It was a totally disappointing, mainly concrete affair (we had hopes of grasses and trees), however there was a touch of colour added in the form of possibly another political rally for, or maybe it was supposed to be a celebration of, the indigenous peoples of South America.
The speeches on stage meant little to us, but there were plenty of different costumes in a range of colours for us to admire, with the whole affair concluding with music and random dancing around a burning brazier.
Back at our hostel, things were gearing up for a ninth Anniversary shindig, something we thought might be fun to partake of.
So we had a couple of beers, and waited for things to kick off… and waited… in a definite sign of our age, things did finally fire up at around 11pm (and not conclude until after 6am), but by this time we’d had more than enough time waiting, and had given up and retired to bed!
After all, we had a day trip planned to Tiwanaku the following morning, before heading on from La Paz the following evening…
* Our public bus from Copacabana to La Paz cost $10.00 Bolivianos per person & took about 4 hours (which was about an hour late).