|Arrived in La Paz early morning (6am) after a steady bus ride. Only thing of note was a woman who got up and started ranting. The only words we could pick up was "Hamas! Hamas! and the en Biblio"!! We were slightly panicked to say the least, especially since she had had full access to dynamite in Potosi. We had a look around to see if anyone else was panicking but they weren't - fortunately she was not a suicide bomber; she just thanked everyone for listening and promptly sat down - phew!
Once in La Paz we made our way to our pre-booked hostel but once we arrived we were sorely disappointed. It was on a major dual carriageway which heaved with fumes (no cat-converters out here) and the hostel looked shut down anyway. We swiftly jumped into a taxi and headed off to internet alley. We scanned the net and found expedia were offering two nights in a good hotel for $80. After our 6 day nightmare on the salt flats we felt we deserved it. We booked the hotel and 2 hours later had a good double room with en-suite bathroom that wasn't covered in mildew - pure luxury!!
La Paz is Bolivia's largest city its bowl shape is plopped in a chasm of mountains at an altitude of 3660 m above sea level.
Strangely the upper class of La Paz live in the lowest part of this huge bowl and the poorest areas rise up to the top eventually spreading out beyond into the slums of El Alto.
The next two days we spent exploring the city as much as we could and updating this website! We obviously had to have afternoon tea everyday with it only being about 2 pounds for tea and cake!
We found a cool little jazz bar on our second night, which we will have to pay another visit to before we leave.
On the third day we moved to a decent hostel still with en-suite and our own TV with Cable so Paul can still watch his football.
We booked onto two trips. Tiahuanaco and a bike ride down the 'the most dangerous road in the world'!
On the 17th we went to Tiahuanaco, which is Bolivia's most significant archaeological site. Little is known of the people who constructed this great ceremonial centre, which was situated on Lake Titicaca's southern shore. It is thought that the civilization that spawned Tiahuanaco rose in about 600 B.C. the site was under construction around 700 A.D. but after 1200 A.D. the group faded into obscurity. Still a civilization that existed for some 1800 years. It pre-dates the Incas and evidence of its influence has been found within the Inca civilisation, which in comparison only lasted 300-400 years.
It was an interesting trip although much of the site remains under ground due to a lack of funds. It is estimated a total of 6 million dollars is required to reveal all the temples and restore any damage to them.
After the world's most dangerous road trip we moved hostels to one nearer the gringo centre of the Witches market. It was great - carpeted floors, nice bathroom and cable TV!!
We booked onto a Spanish course with Isabel Vivado a nice woman who came highly recommended via the Lonely Planet. Much of the following week was spent sat in her dining room in a morning struggling with the grammar of Spanish and then spending the afternoons doing the homework she set - we know - homework!!!
The Spanish lessons were however broken up with many hours spent in the company of Kev and Tara. We met them originally on our Potosi trip down the mines and kept in touch. We had a good few nights out with them in various places in La Paz. A shocker of a meal was served up in Cafe Sol y Luna when Paul and Kev's meals arrived cold after waiting over an hour, then Helen's arrived with numerous hairs in it after the waiter spilled the curry sauce over us both! We all left and went back to a place called Ram Jams we had discovered the previous night which served the best beef curry we've had on our trip so far!
Both Tara and Kev live in London and are doing much the same as we are regarding travelling - Tara studied at Hull university and despite many student bashings retains a fond affection for our hometown.
The week we spent in La Paz learning Spanish was also the week of the champions league and FA cup so homework was done quickly in the afternoon and one o'clock meetings with Kev were arranged in Oliver's travels (a gringo pub) for kick off. A good few pints were sunk along with bacon and double egg sarnies and Tetley tea - ahhh bliss finally a good brew after 4 months on the road!!
We'd like to say we have more to show for our time in La Paz but after learning a new language and then killing it off with beer we really don't! It was a good two weeks mostly relaxing and it felt good to have a base for a while and get comfortable. However, after 2 weeks we were getting itchy feet and decided it was time to move on and see Isla del Sol in Lake Titicaca from the Bolivian border town of Copacabana.