Before we came to Bolivia, we had heard a lot of weird stuff, lots of warnings read, and lots of travelers tales. The most disturbing was in Mendoza, and Sara was very concerned how we would go! However, we have done ok so far, been reasonably street smart, and endeavored the fumes and the hills. We are only catching the tourist buses, and staying away from anything dodgey. The ATMs all have armed guards now, and we do feel safe here!
We arrived in La Paz early Monday morning of the tourist bus. We where tired, cold, and over it. We knew that our hostel wouldn’t be ready for us, but we went there anyways to dump our stuff. Then we headed out…
The town itself is very weird, it is located in a big valley/ravine/gully, and everywhere you look you see houses in the hillsides. We walked all around, saw lots, and was rather unimpressed with how inconvenient it was to have to walk up and down so much. It was almost like you where continuously traversing a hillside, which you where. This added with the ridiculous amount of fumes from old Dodge buses, and the crazy micros, made it a bit of a test. We chilled most of the first day, and had a nice cold shower when we finally got our room!
Tuesday was our big shopping day, and fighting day, but we both endured, did our shopping, looked around a bit more, and enjoyed the beers on tap here at the Hostel. We have also found a local restaurant that has some wicked fruits! Its so nice to be able to have healthy food, just not meat, meat millanesa or pollo… We also went to the Coca museum, learning about the difference between the Coca leaves and cocaine. Bit flavored, but interesting.
This morning, we organised our trip to Copacobana (yet another tourist bus), ate some more fruit, and dealt with the Bolivian postal system (Mom/dad, another parcel on the way, did you get the first one/s from Australia?). We also walked a bit further, to enjoy the views, but there seems to be a big beautification campaign going on, so we didn’t get to enjoy it, we where stopped by construction. We had the pleasure of meeting a very nice Swedish speaking shoe shiner, Ricardo, that sweet talked me into getting my sneaker cleaned. Turned out he and his mate where working for Svalorna, a Swedish charity. Very nice encounter! All the shoe shiners wear black ski masks due to social stigma, so its a bit odd to talk Swedish to a guy who you can only see the eyes to, cleaning your shoes in Bolivia!
Walking home, parched and tired after too many beers the night before, I suggested to Sara that we ought to cross the road to get into the shade. Sara dutifully did so, and stepped into the path of a mini van. It was a bit of a shock watching her getting thrown around, but she stood up, no scratches, just a bruised ass. The minivan was luckily driving slowly at the time, was very concerned, but she was ok, only a bruised pride…
We are going to enjoy the homecooking here at the hostel again tonight, before going to Copacobana tomorrow, then onto Peru and Cuzco.