Bolivia part I: La Paz

Para ler um relato da viagem em português, aqui está uma ligação para o meu outro blog.


Although this is more of a work blog, I cannot resist posting about it here because this trip to Bolivia was such an eye opening experience. I realise this is no touristic paradise for my fellow argentines but for us, europeans, Bolivia is an exotic treasure. It´s not “undiscovered” – but it certainly isn´t full of people covering the same beaten track. I´m sure there´s a lot more to Bolivia than what we saw in ten days – and certainly a huge amount of more “virgin” places, but the places we visited felt pretty unspoilt to us (specially compared to Argentina).

We flew from Buenos Aires to La Paz. The airport sits on a 4000m high plateau and the lack of oxigen is quite asphyxiating to people – like us – who just landed from sea level. You don´t notice it in the first few minutes, but once you try to lift your luggage from the luggage belt – then you know it. Heart racing, slight chest pain, heavy headache – that´s it.

After being delivered to our hotel our first stop was the chemist´s: “soroche” pills to counteract the effects of the very thin air. Then, food:

This ceviche was devoured way too fast for my camera, a bit like Lucky Luke. Then, the necessary mate de cocato help us breathe:

The next day we strolled down El Prado for a bit of the Sunday morning La Paz action. There was a fair with lots of kids playing and singing and people dancing. The ambiance was perfect. Nobody seemed to be suffering from “soroche” apart of us.

Then we started touring the city and went to the Valle de la Luna as well.

This last spot is a place where the andean rock is eroded in such a way that it feels like you´re on the moon, not on an earthly landscape. The cactuses bring us back to the earth but the lack of oxygen always makes you wonder where you really are.

No visit to La Paz is complete without a stop at Mercado de las Brujas, “Witches´ Market”, where amazing things are available: silver and bolivianita – a local semi-precious stone – jewelry, alpaca sweaters and ponchos, fake-alpaca sweaters and ponchos, different souvenirs and, of course, lucky charms, llama foetuses and other goods that serve the adoration of Mother-Earth, Pachamama.