La Paz, the market city

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November 23rd 2008
Published: December 6th 2008
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Day 604 (22.11.08)

The morning was spent getting our memory cards burnt to CDs which seemed a boring way to spend our first few hours in La Paz but had to be done. La Paz is the world's highest capital city at 3640m and fills a large canyon where the buildings are seemingly sprayed on to the hillsides. It also appears to be the city of markets; with large indoor markets, stalls lining the pavements and shops everywhere we don't think there's one thing you couldn't buy in La Paz if you looked hard enough!

The hustle and bustle on the streets and the bright coloured local crafts soon drew us into a shopping spree as we wandered the shops and stalls around the Santa Cruz area on a birthday present hunt for our families at home. With some fun bartering with the local ladies we had much success and headed back to the hostel laden with gifts.

We spent the rest of the day walking around the city, poking our noses into the various markets, buying plenty of toiletries (which always seem to run out all at the same time), watching the locals go about their busy lives and dodging the numerous buses and minibuses that fill the narrow streets. We ended our walk at the Plaza Murillo and took in the grand buildings and carnival atmosphere as a wedding party left the square, children ran about chasing pigeons and people enjoyed large servings of candyfloss and ice-cream from the vast selection of vendors hanging around.

Back near our hostel we enjoyed looking into the small and odd smelling shops of the Witches Market, which stock anything from strange looking potions to dried llama fetuses (for burying under new houses for good luck in case you were wondering!), fascinating stuff.

After some dinner at a street stall where we continued to practise our terrible but developing spanish, the day ended with a bottle of Bolivian wine in the hostel.

Day 605 (23.11.08)

Our plan today was to complete our shopping and post a large parcel home but as happens on a trip like this we'd completely lost track of the days. With many of the shops shut we eventually worked out that it was sunday and that the post office would also be closed. Oh dear, that put rather a crimp in our plans as instead of being able to get rid of all we'd bought we'd now have to drag a heavy bundle of stuff halfway across the country with us.

We spent a couple of hours popping in and out of various tour agencies as we searched for a good company to book a cycling trip for the next day down 'the World's most dangerous road' and Chrissie searched for the courage to agree to doing the trip! There are three top tour agencies that are recommended but they were priced a little out of our budget so we opted for El Solario, the best of the cheaper options. The tour booked we set off for our treat of the day, a trip to the cinema!

We'd been desperate to catch the new James Bond film since it's release and had been waiting to get to a large city where there was the possibilty of it being shown in English. We found out that this was the case at the Cine 16 de Julio and, after a quick market stop to buy the obligatory cinema sweets (much cheaper than a pick and mix stop in Didsbury that's for sure!), we had arrived, bought our tickets and settled into a very funky cinema complete with walls and ceilings lined with old egg boxes.

We really enjoyed going to the cinema and the film was very entertaining, the best part being of course that part of it was set in La Paz, right where we were sitting - excellent. We're now considering viewing every new Bond film in a place where it's set although this could work out a touch expensive!

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