Tag Archives: La Paz

Friendly Faces : La Paz Bolivia

We spent our last night in Peru camped along the shores of Lago Titicaca and got an early start to cross the border into Bolivia. Country number 13.

La Paz y mas 01  Views over Titicaca, from the Bolivian side

La Paz y mas 02 Ferry crossing, Lago Titicaca

La Paz y mas 03 Hitchhiker

After an uneventful stay in Copacabana we braved the mad rush of traffic as we entered La Paz. We’ve met quite a few people lately who seem to get lost in large cities when they follow their GPS. Since we don’t have one we have to use our intuition and ask directions from locals, which has been working fairly reliably. We made it to our destination quite easily, unfortunately the address we had was totally wrong, but nothing a little time in an internet cafe couldn’t fix.

La Paz y mas 04 La Paz y mas 05 La Paz y mas 06 Valle de La Luna (Valley of the Moon) and our cozy campground

La Paz is set in a high altitude valley surrounded by crazy landscapes and towering glacier topped mountains. There is a strong contrast throughout the different nieghbourhoods, of old and new, rich and poor, but throughout it all there seems to be a lot of energy and character.

We spent a day or two wandering the city, checking out the markets and testing out all the street food while we made arrangements for our Huayna Potosi climb.

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We left the van in the campground for a few days while we set off on the mountaineering trip. When we returned, we found ourselves in the middle of the celebrations for the anniversary of the foundation of La Paz. This is a big deal here, the entire downtown was taken over by marching bands, parades and partying in the streets.

La Paz y mas 12 La Paz y mas 13 La Paz y mas 21 La Paz y mas 22 La Paz y mas 23Chuflay – hot frothy spiced milk with a hit of singani liquor. Sounds weird, tastes amazing. 

The geography and demographics in La Paz are a bit of an anomaly. Due to the bitterly cold winds up on the altiplano, the good views are all to be had in the poorer suburbs. People with more money can afford to live in the bottom of the valley where the weather is more agreeable.

A cool new project that has just been completed in La Paz is the teleferico between the centre of town down in the valley and the densely populated El Alto neighbourhood way up high in the altiplano. It has only been open for a few months, but already thousands of people are using it everyday to commute, instead of taking the dirty old buses which struggle up and down the steep hills. For a few cents we took a ride, which only made us more excited about the upcoming ski season as we travel further south.

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The biggest highlights of our time in La Paz have actually been the great people we have met. We never feel lonely when we are camped out in the wild, but have often found cities to be lonely places when we don’t know anyone.

This was definitely not the case in La Paz.  We met a bunch of great people at the campground, mostly Europeans who are travelling in the other direction overflowing with tales of summer in Patagonia. This was also the perfect crowd to join at the pub for the world cup finals.

To top it all off, amidst a flurry of emails from interested buyers for the van, we found that what we were looking for was right in front of us. Leontien and Arjan had dreams of finding a VW Westfalia to take home to Holland… this dream will soon become a reality when we meet them again at the end of our travels.

La Paz y mas 24 Celebratory beers with the soon to be new owners of Oscar.

La Paz y mas 25 German party

La Paz y mas 26 Gooaaaaaaal – Germany for the win. (I think I was the only one hoping for an Argentina win)

We also had the honour of meeting up with our Bolivian friend’s Mum while we were there. The timing was perfect. Since it was a public holiday we were invited over for lunch, and also met some lovely members of the extended family. As Estela met us at the door she said “Please come in. My house is small, but my heart is big.” The way it should be.

She made us a delicious lunch (I still think about the quinoa bake) and we sat around chatting for the afternoon. Hopefully we will be able to catch up with her in Australia next time she is visiting her daughter, so that we can repay the favour.

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And so ended our time in La Paz. We arrived with the plan to get in and out quickly, we were feeling a little rushed about our schedule and a little stressed about finding a buyer for our van. After spending over a week here, we left with excitement for the road ahead, no stress about the van, and a bunch of new friends.

So far, Bolivia couldn’t get better… or could it?

Lazy Loreto and La Paz

This was our second time in Loreto. Mark and I had passed through this sleepy seaside village earlier on the trip.  We picked up a Canadian hitchhiker who recommended staying at Sukasa and gave us half a bottle of tequila. This was nice of her, as we weren’t at our most chatty. We were still suffering from crippling tummy cramps, aka poo pains. On our second visit, with Mark’s parents, we were in much better shape. We ended up staying at Sukasa, in bungalows along the waterfront. It had been a while since we’d watched a movie, so we raided the VHS collection. Somehow, Double Jeopardy with Ashley Judd and Tommy Lee Jones is not as good as it used to be.

IMG_0650 P1040445 P1040455Sunrise jalk (jog/walk).

P1040486La Paz bound.

La Paz is a cool city. It has a pretty relaxed vibe about it, probably because it’s not really a tourist hot spot. It’s colourful, clean and cosmopolitan.  We spent three nights here in a cute Mexican style apartment. We wandered the streets, visited the markets and struggled with our Spanish. 

P1040530 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn Mexico, they love painting trees white. We haven’t figured out why yet.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur cute neighbours.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALa casa, for a few days.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACards. Intense.

Oscar needed some TLC. Geraldo’s VW in La Paz was recommended by a fellow on the road and came up trumps. We got the ignition switch replaced for a whopping $28, a free oil change, extra oil and an old fuel pump relay to see if that fixed our stuttering problem. Rogelio, the guy who runs the place, is awesome. He is also confident that our van will make it to Argentina “no problem”.

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We decided to take a trip out to Isla Espiritu Santo, an island off the coast of La Paz. Unfortunately we chose the coldest and windiest day for it. We nearly had to ask the captain to turn the boat around, the water got so rough “mucho olas” (lots of waves). It was too choppy to get out to where we could swim with the whale sharks, but we were able to swim in a protected bay with the sea lions. In Spanish their name, lobos marinos, is translated to sea wolves. Mumma G had the ginger lollies handy, which kept the sea sickness at bay. Still, we were all pretty relieved when we got back on solid ground.

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Until next time, adios amigos!P1040723