Day 69: La Paz

Sun. 21st October 2012

At Killi Killi viewpointAs our time in La Paz is limited we opt for the city tour, along with 11 others from our group. Two others, who are finishing with the G Adventures trip here in La Paz, are heading to Lima and then Iguassu Falls so did not have time, and one went to Tiahuanaco to see more ruins.

We are pleased to have our own coach and English speaking guide. It is good of them to give up their Sunday morning at such short notice to show us gringos around.

La Paz is not the official capital of Bolivia, but it is the main administration centre and largest city where most International flights arrive. The city is spread from the top to the bottom of the valley and there can be a 4 degree centigrade difference between the top and the bottom. The rich have begun taking over the valley with the better climate but have found it expensive as the house foundations are on clay. The middle class live in the central part and the poor and factories are highest up.

Moon ValleyWe began by heading down into the valley and 10 km out of town to Valle de la Luna (moon valley) named due to the landscape. Many years ago there was sea here and due to the Nasca fault line two mountain ranges were squashed together and the formations are sand and stones that originated in the sea and compressed into these shapes.

From here can be seen the highest golf course in the world, sadly we do not have the time (and probably not the energy) to play!

We headed back to town via the Miraflores district past the huge football stadium to the Kille Kille viewpoint where there are almost 360 degree views of the city (see our lead photo). However, whilst it is spectacular, the city is not the most picturesque!

Last Colonial streetWe then had a stop to see one of the last remaining colonial streets which is lined with little museums. The gold museum was shut and instead we visited the Casa de Murillo. Pedro Domingo Murillo was the first revolutionary and secret meetings were held in this house to discuss the proposed revolution. It was not to be and he was hanged in the Main Plaza as an example but he was defiant to the end and said the revolution would continue with his followers.

The colonial street with its quaint buildings was quite tranquil – unlike the street at the end which was bedlam, cars and minibuses going in every direction and not giving way which caused a logjam, especially when our coach joined in. After a heated discussion in Spanish between our guide and the driver we headed against the traffic though gaps which were not wide enough, upsetting a local in his new shiny red BMW who was not happy squeezing through a gap about two centimetres wider than his car (these BMW drivers – not us any more!!).

Presidential PalaceWe finally made it to the main Plaza after the guide sweet talked a policemen to let us down a road that was closed to traffic for some inexplicable reason. This was quite impressive compared to much of La Paz. On one side is the Cathedral and the Presidential Palace. The buildings on the remaining three sides are also impressive, including the one with gunshot holes from when police shot at a sniper.

The final stop was to visit the markets close to our hotel. We firstly saw the fruit and veg stalls with many varieties of potatoes, pasta of all shapes and many varieties of fruits. No photographing the locals as they believe a picture captures and steals part of their soul.

Llama foetus and sugar candiesWe then walked up the street known as the witches market. Here you can buy remedies including llama foetuses and herbs for Aymara rituals and other medical remedies, as well as lucky charms for travelling, studying, fertility and general good luck.

We decided to have lunch at Oliver’s a UK Pub, so all 13 of us trooped in and rearranged the furniture. After 1 1/2 hours the food had still not arrived. We were offered free shots as the service was slow- not what we wanted so we left the rest of our group there deciding which six of them would drink the shots from the six glasses lined up in a long wooden plank. Apparently the food finally arrived shortly afterwards and was very good.

What was left of the afternoon was free time until we meet our new guide and three new people  joining our group,at 7:30pm. Two of our old group will remain in La Paz and fly home via Miami early next week, along with the two en route to Iguazzu. It is sad to see four of our group leave us today as we have become quite a close “family” with our nickname of the Superuvians!

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