The beautiful chaos of La Paz


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South America » Bolivia » La Paz Department » La Paz
February 9th 2015
Published: February 22nd 2015
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Well Ronald was right. We got a trufe (a minibus without seatbelts, anybody can get on or off at any time and it’s packed full of people so that when one person needs to get out from the back all passengers need to get out to let him out.) Once we had gone down from La Paz El Alto (the highest point where the airport is located) to the town of La Paz the transport was chaos, there were trufes, all cars were Japanese (some very well maintained, some not) and there were also the first buses brought by the North Americans in the 1950s, doges, which pumped out a mass of black exhaust. As all of La Paz city centre is hilly when vehicles go down the hills they turn their engines off and coast. Often cars don’t switch on their lights and vehicles aren't serviced here. In the midst of the transport chaos there were both business people dressed in suits and indigenous women wearing their costumes,carrying their work and stalls on their backs wrapped in sheets, some were carrying their babies on their backs, crossing in between the vehicles.

Ronald had found a comfortable hostel for me to stay in La Paz centre whilst he stayed with his aunt and cousins in the high part of La Paz, where the working class and poorer people live, according to Ronald. Ronald had brought a bottle of fizzy apple cider ‘Sidra de la Valle’ and ferrero rocher from Madrid to share with me, to welcome me to his country.

He showed me pictures of his family in La Paz. One was of his beautiful grandma who is nearly 90 years old and was wearing the indigenous clothes. He showed me pictures of Alejandra and Oliver, our housemates who we were living with in Las Rozas de Madrid in Spain. I’d forgotten how much I miss Alejandra. She’s now been reunited with her son in Bolivia and there are pictures of the three of them celebrating. I cannot wait to see them in Cochabamba, they will be very surprised.

In the evening we walked around the city centre. It was 4 degrees, the sunset at about 7pm and it rained all evening and all of the next morning. The next day I saw on the news that houses in La Paz up on the hill had been destroyed by a landslide due to the heavy rain.

We saw the changing of the guard in the government buildings changing from the red soldiers to the military who take care of the place during the night. Bolivia is now under a socialist President, a very good friend of Russia's Putin and Cuba's leaders. We saw the monuments dedicated to the liberator of Bolivia, we saw a mixture of old and new buildings, ate some pizza and drank some Fanta. To end the evening we drank some coffee in the street whilst watching the traders packing up their stalls and carrying them on their back, and indigenous women attaching their stall to their 10 layers of brightly coloured clothes.

Ronald has made an itinerary and a to do list which we can follow whilst I am in Bolivia. His family have given him plenty of ideas.

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