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Published: June 21st 2017
Crossing from Chile to Bolivia
The 'altiplano', or high plateau, dotted with lakes - pink flamingoes on some
Geo: -16.4983, -68.146
La Paz proved to be a challenging city in more ways than one:
The first challege was getting in and out of our hotel. The street outside was congested with traffic edging in both directions past market stalls atrracting huge numbers of passers by making purchases for the Festival of the Virgin and its accompanyng parties and carnival parades. Stalls were selling masks, florescent wigs and costumes for both adults and children, together with silver and gold confetti and flower petals to throw at the parade. Huge water pistils and foam canisters were also on sale to kids and teenagers - we often got caught in their cross fire in the crowded streets. In the day we saw young kids dressed in imaginative costumes leaving their parade and late the adults started partying - drinking beer in huddles on the street and impromptu dancing broke out whenever a band started up.
Sadly Peter after a night of high fever was not able to get up for the city tour next morning, so I went off alone with my own guide and driver and got to know a bit about the city. It is built in a bowl, with the
most expensive houses clustered around the golf course and river at lower altitude and cheaper houe and the new town up on the rim at El Alto ( one million inhabitants in each). We saw the highest football stadium in the world where no foreign teams want to play because the altidude advamtages the home team, a park with strange sandstone peak formations like Cappadocia nd an interesting Museum collection of South American musical instruments by a leading Bolivian musician. The statue in the square was of Murillo who fought for Bolivian independence, but was hung in the main square. Curent President Moralles is trying to improve conditions for poorer Bolivians, previously exploited over many years by the Spanish and then corporate interests in the rich gold, silver and notrate mines.
I returned at midday to fine Peter slowly recovering and so we experimented in going to sit upstairs for some lunch n the cafe before summoning the strength to tackle the crowded, hilly streets outside, By late afternoon he did well to visit the sights within walking distance I had seen in the morning and you didn,t have to go far to be entertained by busy markets and partying yougsters.
Used in 'traditional' medicine and witchcraft
Peter recovered from the fever and adjusted to the altitude slowly over the next few days, eating little, so I was grateful for the cafe inthe hotel. No fun travelling when you are sick and he certainly scared me, wondering how we would continue if he continued to have a fever.
So it was an early night and ealry start the next morning, when we were picked up - nearly an hour late - tough when we got up at 5,00am and joined a coach trip to Lake Titicaca.
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