I landed in La Paz on Tuesday, the capital city of Bolivia and highest in the world. All the emergency warnings about altitude sickness worried me a bit when I was on the plane, but my, the view of the Andes from Cochabamba was unforgettable. As soon as I landed I remembered to move slowly so that I wouldn’t faint, and I didn’t! Yay!
A Bit of Bolivia
La Paz is chaotic and smoggy, but somehow I find pockets of it to be simply charming. It’s a tight city where everyone either takes taxis, hops on minibuses, or walks everywhere. There are cable lines making a jungle above street traffic, but no underground metro stations (my favorite! Boooo) The streets and buildings have colorful, weathered walls and the windows have seen better days, but they’re beautiful to me that way. Most of the buildings are pretty low, and the streets are never level nor paved, so I can’t see myself living here. Everywhere I walk is like going for a hike. I’m even wearing my hiking boots today! Sadly, I also discovered that their draught beers and coffee isn’t very good at all. But the people are friendly and helpful, and I’m finally using my Spanish here!
I’ve been shamelessly checking off the touristy to-do lists. First stop has been Sagamaga street, aka Gringo Alley. It’s the touristy street where they sell handicrafts, and tour packages and etc. Surprisingly, there are barely any foreigners there. I was expecting parties on the streets and Austrailians in dreadlocks, but this street is relatively modest and calm. Most gringos here are just passing through after Macchu Picchu and heading down south. I enjoyed browsing through the stalls of gorgeous rainbow hammocks, pillow cases, leather satchels, and trinklets but only bought bracelets due to my limited luggage situation (thee big backpack).
I also walked to Calle Juan (preserved history alley way), people watched at multiple plazas (pigeons galore!), zipped through museums, rode the scenic cable car, hiked up the San Francisco church’s bell towers, browsed Witch’s market (dried baby llamas ehhhh) and ate a ton of street food to make that typhoid vaccine worth it. I think if you’re as ambitious as me, two days in La Paz is more than enough to do everything. Everything is super cheap too!
My favorite part of this place is how the streets look. They’re always sloped so intriguingly in one way or the other, and since La Paz is in a valley, every picture I take has the mountains in the background. All the streets are gritty with ‘cholitas’ selling gum and Kleenex on the sidewalks, exactly like all the postcards I’ve ever seen of Bolivia. The lighting here is also spectacular, most of the photos I’ve taken don’t even need filters!
Tomorrow, I’m taking an overnight bus to the Uyuni Salt Flats, the main reason I’ve wanted to come to Bolivia and I’m super excited! I don’t expect to have wifi on the buses, but you know, hope for everything and expect nothing 🙂 Ciao!