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La Paz, Bolivia

Broken bus (again), Marching bands and Spiderman attacks...

sunny 27 °C

The bus broke down. Again. Not as bad as last time, just on a corner of four lanes of busy early morning traffic. However on the outskirts of La Paz, so at least we actually made it this time! By now we have learned not to panic and take things in our stride a little more....so with this in mind we jumped in a taxi into town. Rich and Rebecca who we traveled with had a tougher time, Rich's day bag got stolen whilst he and all the other boys were pushing the bus (!) to the side of the road, so they faced a lovely trip to the poilce station and an afternoon of calls to their insurance company.

Not being organised in the slightest we hadn't booked a hostel so headed out to find one with availability. There is a big triangle that runs between three plazas where they all seem to be so we set out on this run. It was a bit tough going as the weather was warming up for the day, the altitude and our rucksacks made it a challenging combination, but we found one that looked clean, cheap, bags of character and in a great location.

We had a much needed shower then headed out to see what La Paz was all about. It is a huge city, lots of hills, winding roads, little cobbled streets combined with main roads with the usual South American driving (no headlights on, seatbelts forgotton about, and so many dangeling things handing across the dash boards) punctuated with frantic horn usage. Totally brilliant!
We walked past some government buildings, and saw the President of Bolivia's car and security, then a military parade. After asking around so see what was happening we found out that is was La Paz weekend. A big festival and celebration of the city. That night it really came alive, there were military parades, marching bands, street stalls aplenty and a general party atmosphere. After mingling in it all for a while, tiredness hit us, having not slept the night before, we headed back to our room which had a little balcony that looked over it all. Such a brilliant night, drinking a glass of red (out of a mug) watching it all unfold.

The next day the hunt was on for a Western Union, not normally a problem on a Saturday, they are all open until 12ish. Not so on La Paz weekend. Everywhere was closed. Mild panic set in, and we hit an internet cafe to get a list of all the offices, realising then that we couldn't call them as our Spanish wouldn't be strong enough over the phone. By luck there was a tourist information office close by, not a sure hit as some had been great and some appalling, but this was a success. The girl spoke so many languages and took it upon herself to sort us out. She phoned around until we found one that was open, in a supermarket right on the other side of the city!

So we headed off on our mission, the weather was gorgeous and our walk took us through the huge city park, some interesting neighborhoods and the stadium. Mission successful, armed with money and confidence that we could now achieve anything we headed back into the city centre for some much deserved lunch. In Bolivia, lunch is a big thing, and many places offer set lunches for a bargain price. We found the most gorg little bistro called La Casona which had an amazing lunch for 28Bolivianos each (about a fiver). We had steak, llama, salad, soup and fruit salad.

That night we headed out to a bar just up the road from our hostel. It was either a lover or a hater as it was a Brit owned bar....it was a lover! Full of travelers to get advice from, football on the TV, but all with Bolivian beers and atmosphere. It was 'Spidey Saturday' which entailed the whole bar getting dressed up in Spiderman outfits and running around the other bars. At first we were like, er no thanks, a few beers in it seemed like the best idea ever! And it was a giggle, full of drunken confidence we stole our spiderman outfits as a keepsake!!

On Sunday we had a really relaxed day, I nursed my hangover with ice cream and a trip to the Sunday market. That night we went to the cinema to see the new Harry Potter film. The cinema was great, an old theatre, with egg boxes on the wall for soundproofing, and old red theatre chairs. We had the works, popcorn, sweets, hot dogs and fizzy pop. The whole thing cost less than a tenner. I bloody love Bolivia!

Not much else to report, other than our usual getting lost looking for the bus station, lots of food, lots of sightseeing and a decent tan. Oh, and Phil caught a cold.

Next stop, Peru!

Posted by Big Adventure 20:24 Archived in Bolivia Tagged food bus day la bands sunshine broken paz marching spiderman

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