After several hours we finally arrived in La Paz! It was fairly late at the time so we decided to just chill at the hostel, they had some marvellous pizza and amazing music. And by amazing music I mean it’s like they hacked into my iTunes account and basically copied my playlists.
The next morning we decided to have a wander around La Paz and then aim for a walking tour in the afternoon.
La Paz is the highest capital city in the world situated in the mountains so amongst all the skyscrapers you get some magnificent mountains gracing the scene.
The walking tour in the afternoon started outside the infamous San Pedro prison. Our walking tour guide, Sergio, told us about some of the interesting tales regarding this prison. The prison used to serve guided tours but due to several incidents the tours were banned. However this ban didn’t communicate its way to everybody and in one case 2 Australian tourists took a ‘private tour’ of the prison and then found themselves trapped with the only way out was to pay off the prison guard $400! Sergio emphasised “DO NOT GO ON A PRIVATE TOUR IN THE PRISON”. Lots of “What do you NOT DO?” and requiring us to shout “private prison tours!” He also told us that if we saw anything flying out of the prison wrapped in foil we were not to try and catch it otherwise we would find ourselves *gestured being stabbed*.
We got to walk around a fair bit of La Paz and Sergio had a lot of tales to tell which I’m not going to fully disclose on here because you must go yourself!
We went through the market which had women selling lots of goods, mainly fruit. Sergio explained to us that in Bolivia women were highly respected and that the most successful women were the ones with gold teeth.
We then walked through the witches market. This was a sneaky photo as we had been told that if we took a photo and the shop owners had seen I would have been cursed. But life seems to be going well since this happened so I don’t think I’m cursed… Anyway, can you see the baby llamas hung up? I can’t exactly remember what their use is but being the vegetarian I am I do remember that these llamas die of natural causes and are not killed for the medicinal purposes.
We took a break at an indoor market and apparently it’s customary to drink juice from a bag? It was super delicious although pretty hard to deal with!
The tour ended in a bar where we were all treated to a local drink. Even after doing some research I can not remember the name of the drink but it was delicious. After the tour Alicia and I were desperate to get ourselves some llama jumpers. It was something we had planned to do in Cusco but couldn’t as I was almost dead. We spent a good while trying to decide on which ones to get but we came to the conclusion of ones that definitely had llamas on them. It’s so bizarre because they are very thin jumpers but incredibly warm! I say llamas but it’s actually alpaca wool..! We took this photo in the hostel and it really exhibits how sun burnt we were.
That concluded our day! At the hostel we had more pizza. The stomach wants what it wants.
The next day was my final day and I had the morning and some of the afternoon to enjoy the last little bits of La Paz. I had read about the cable car in La Paz being the highest in the world and was desperate to have a ride. As the high altitude is very straining, the cable car is used as public transport in order for the people of La Paz to travel between different parts of the city without getting exhausted.
The views are super cool though! Even if you realise that La Paz must have gone through a huge building phase and since then hasn’t thought to finish the buildings off. We saw that buildings were missing windows and some with roofs incomplete.
We arrived at El Alto, the final destination on the red line of the cable car. El Alto is where the airport is situated and it’s SO HIGH. The wind was incredibly strong and I couldn’t quite believe my poor little Suffolk body was able to cope at 4095 metres above sea level! This is getting high for sure.
The journey back down gives you an idea of the monumental amount of construction that has taken place. Apparently the lower you are the fancier you are.
That concludes my time in La Paz and my journey across Peru and Bolivia. I loved being able to see so much in such a short space of time but on hindsight I would have given myself more time in each place I visited and maybe I would have acclimatised to the altitude better! Equally, I feel like my body had been tested plenty and it really was time to go home.
There is something I do want to say that struck me throughout this trip that wasn’t a reflection on what I’d seen but who I’d met. Not the locals, but other travellers. My word what a breed you are. If I’m not spending 7 months in the most remote village in Peru and learning about myself than am I even travelling? Jeeeeeez. It’s fairly insulting really, I work and I enjoy my job and yet I was being made to feel guilty that I wasn’t putting myself through the pain of other travellers of constantly worrying about where I was going to sleep at night and how I was going to afford anything. Obviously I would want to spend more time in places and I understand that beneath the judgment of travellers saying “you’re only here for 12 days?” was a strong persuasion that there was just too much to see and I was missing it. I felt as if I was in a competition constantly and that I was made to feel less than other people because I hadn’t been to the Galapagos Islands for 10 weeks to volunteer with turtles. I have seen lots of Europe and the travellers I’ve met there have been nothing but lovely and weren’t dismissive if you hadn’t been somewhere. This was the first time I had been to a non-Western place and I was embracing everything I saw as much as I could. I feel like if you’ve made the effort to go then go you! In fact travelling anywhere and embracing what you see is amazing. Basically travel snobbery does my head in. You should never be made to feel like how I did, if you want to go somewhere, go. If you don’t want to go somewhere, then don’t. And don’t feel bad about it. And certainly don’t let some snobby girls tell you all about “Santa Martahhhhh yahhh” gap yar styley when you might vomit for the 15th time because WHERE IS THE OXYGEN.
Anyway, Peru and Bolivia were spectacular and I’m definitely keen to visit other parts of South America. I have learned from this trip that you shouldn’t try to plan that much in advance as things change, it’s good to know some Spanish and if you’re not sure how you will cope with high altitude don’t plan a trip which involves you going higher and higher.