You're Not From Around Here, Are You?

A travel blog covering living, working, volunteering and travelling in over 90 countries

What do we want? Nobody knows – La Paz, Bolivia

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La Paz

La Paz is the highest capital city in the world and covers the bottom, sides and top of a canyon, resulting in varying altitudes of 3000-4100m. All this makes it an effort to walk around but fortunately a taxi from one side of the city to the other costs less than a pound.

My first hotel in La Paz was a beautiful one bedroom apartment. I arrived about 7 in the morning and after pottering about for an hour thought the neighbours were making quite a bit of noise until a previously locked door opened and I discovered it was actually a two bedroom apartment and the other bedroom was already occupied so we were sharing the kitchen and front room. About 10 minutes later I left without paying and moved to a different hotel.

La Paz seems to have most of the facilities of a decent city, but none are quite in working order. What is good are the restaurants and cafes – they all seem of a very high standard and we enjoyed a number of excellent meals, particularly Thai and Indian.

The most famous attraction is probably outside of town – the most dangerous road in the world – and there are many different companies willing to lend you a bike to cycle down it. The most reputable seems to be Gravity Assisted so we went to visit them and the girls signed up. I’d have liked to but my knee is still in pain all the way back from Venezuela. They loved it, despite being shown where a cyclist had died just three weeks earlier.

Right near the new hotel was an area called the Witches Market, which sold everything from alpaca hats to Llama foetuses.

With the girls off cycling for the day I opted for the excitement of the Shopping mall escalator. Possibly not as dangerous, but the hand rails do go at different speeds to the steps and each other.

At one end of the canyon is a viewpoint looking out over city from where the kids were watching a football match in the local stadium.

Back in the main street was another of Bolivia’s national pastimes – a protest. This time it was Medics protesting in their white coats, surrounding by dozens of riot police. I was kind of hoping it would turn nasty, just so I could ask “Is there a doctor here?”

After a short siesta I went to see Iron Man 2, thankfully with subtitles rather than dubbed, but on the way back the roads were once again jammed. Another demonstration was underway and the riot police were armed this time with tear gas, batons and guns. Nobody seemed to know who is marching or why, just that they’re a pain to everyone else.

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Since leaving London in 2006 I’ve travelled, worked, volunteered and lived in over 90 countries. Highlights so far would be driving along the Silk Road from Beijing to Istanbul, a complete circuit of South America and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in Costa Rica. I’m currently back in Beijing, as a base to visit more of Asia and attempt to learn Mandarin.

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