10. March 2008 08:29
by Rene Pallesen

La Paz - Bolivia

10. March 2008 08:29 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

la paz bolivia

The bus ride to La Paz was interesting. It was a local bus so full of locals heading into La Paz 4 hours away. After about one hours drive through the high plains (4300 meters altitude) we suddenly arrived to a strait. I hadn´t studies the map properly and hadn´t realised that Copacabana was on a peninsular with no Bolivian direct access to mainland Bolivia (you would have to pass back into Peru to drive directly)...so at the strait we got offloaded from the bus and then had to get onto a smaller boat for the passengers while the bus was ferried across on a big wooden pram.

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Also at this strait is the only division of Bolivias Navy (I think they still hope to eventually get access to the ocean through Chile (They lost 350 kilometers of coastline in a war with Chile back in time).
On the other side Kim missed using the toilet so when we stopped at a petrol station a couple of hours later we took the oppertunity...when the bus took off she wasn´t back yet...and she would have been standing there alone if I hadn´t told the bus driver that we were missing a passenger.
Unfortunately it was cloudy so we could only see the bottom bits of the Huyana Potosi and Illimani (6500 meters).

The drive into La Paz is stunning...they outer suburbs is totally disorganised with mud houses and mud roads...but suddenly you drive over the escarpment and see all of La Paz in a big crater below.

Once we got out of the bus we were however less impressed. La Paz is a town like any other...it is full of traffic, pollution and there has been no city planning whatso ever. Once you get over the escarpment wow factor it is really an ugly city full of social problems, beggers, street kids, pollution, crime etc.
Even the backpacker area is totally uninteresting and has been totally spoiled by young kids going for white water rafting, mountain biking without any interest whatsoever in the local culture.

Our plan was to spend a day here and then continue down to Potosi and we decided we would spend the next day before heading south looking around and see if the city would reveal its more beautiful side. In the morning I went to the bus station to organise bus tickets and I hope I´ve got the promised ticket (sleeper bus, with toilet onboard and sitting in the front of the bus away from the toilets...but Bolivia is full of surprises...but that is part of the adventure).
Afterwards wewent for a walk around the city and found a couple of nice spots but not enough to convince us that this is a city worthwhile spending a lot of time in.

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The witches market if full of souvernirs that are no-where near as good quality as what we saw in Copacabana, The museums were all closed on Sundays (except the music instrument museum which was interesting), and we are unable to find any decent local food in La Paz (only pizza, pasta etc.).

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We did however have a good laugh sitting observing people at Plaza Avaroa close to our hotel. People were out walking their dogs and they were all dressed in cute little costumes like small humans...and I thought the Honkies were crazy.

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I am hoping that the south is nice. I have kept Kim from buying too many things so far promising her that there would be plenty of chances...I hope that this is correct as some of the things we saw up north were really nice.

Bolivia is pretty cheap to travel in (same prices as Thailand) and my dad would love it here (as well as in Peru). I could however travel a lot cheaper if I got to choose the mode of transport and the hotels...Kim gets to choose the hotels we stay in which from a local aspect is the upper range hotels (but still cheap by australian standards) and the criteria is hot water, blankets, heating, cleanetc. We have however been lucky with a couple of hostels we have found (one that we will stay in once we return to La Paz and we stayed in one in Copacabana). I think over time I will get her hardened up enough to check out the hostels first and then afterwards increase the comfort levels if we dont find anything of a decent standard...but so far it is ok that she gets a bit of comfort...it is her first backpacking/roughing trip and she is doing really well so far (getting into the spirit of finding cheap restaurants etc.). Click here to see more photos from Bolivia
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