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Day 31 – To La Paz

November 10, 2010

Location: Roads to La Paz, Bolivia

Date: Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Today we said goodbye to Isla del Sol. A leisurely boat ride back to the mainland later and I was scrambling to grab my luggage and buy a bus ticket to La Paz. The island was nice, but mainland Copacabana didn’t seem to have much left for me. I was ready to move on.

On the way to the buses, though, I found that I might be wrong. Men dressed in identical brown suits and women in traditional Bolivian wear (bowlers, colorful skirts, light-colored blouses) crowded the streets next to the Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana. All had what looked like greenish yellow leaves sprinkled in their hair. A small subgroup of them formed a marching band and plowed through a typical South American tune. I hurried around them with my big bag, pressed for time and unable to get at my camera.

The bus trip to La Paz turned out to be uneventful. For 25 bolivianos, I got a ticket on a 4 hour tourist bus which meant no stops to pick up locals along the way—a considerable benefit because these hop-ons and hop-offs are typically when you get your stuff stolen.

At one point, all us tourists were forced off the bus so it could be ferried across a section of Lake Titicaca. From our motorboat transport, we could see it loaded onto a barge, its front end dipping below the waterline. More than a few of us wondered whether we’d ever see our luggage again. A Bolivian man laughed and said, “Titantic.”

We reboarded our bus and were off to La Paz. We entered the city from the mountains. The view is spectacular—one of the most dramatic city views I’ve ever seen. The city of 900,000 (2 million+ in the metro area), is situated around a deep gorge. A river used to run through it, but it’s been mostly been built over. Structures cover the sides of the gorge from top to bottom. You cannot make out the hillsides themselves, just stacks of concrete and brick. It makes the city feel like it’s surrounded by a towering wall made of thousands of buildings.

As bad luck would have it, I was seated on the aisle and couldn’t snap a picture of the dramatic descent into La Paz. My seatmate, seated at the window, didn’t even bother to pull out his camera. Such a waste.

Hopefully I get another crack at the view. If not, I guess it’s one of those things that I just keep for myself.

GALLERY: No bonus pics today.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Doug permalink
    November 17, 2010 5:40 am

    How are you handling the altitude?

    • November 17, 2010 5:52 am

      The altitude’s not bad. I get more winded than I should. I have to drink a lot more water than normal. Overall, though, it hasn’t hampered my activities. No nausea or headaches. Just a feeling that I’ve traded bodies with a 40 year chain smoker.

      On the upside, I like to think that learning Spanish at altitude will mean disproportionate results once I return to sea level. Or does that only apply to athletics?

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