Decided to tour and view La Paz by the Teleferico System, a signature achievement of President Evo Morales. The system was designed & built by the Austrian company Dopplemayer; of whose ski area lift systems I've used throughout Europe & North America. The system began operation in 2014 with three lines, added two more in 2017 & 2018, and is now comprised of 10 lines, totaling 19 miles & 31 stations. Each cabin, which arrives/departs every 12 seconds, can accommodate 10 passengers.
La Paz has a population of 900,000 and adjacent El Alto 1,000,000. La Paz is built in a relatively long, narrow & steep sided valley (~12,000' elevation) replete with innumerable near vertical ravines & cliff sides, while El Alto is on a relatively flat alpine plain at almost 14,000' elevation; hence it being the location of the La Paz airport. Vehicular transportation between El Alto & La Paz, and between the numerous La Paz neighborhoods, is a slow, gridlocked process. Hence - The Teleferico. It moves qickly, quietly, & efficiently high above the jumbled, tussling terra firma bound masses below. What a great way to move about, and see from an unparalled vantage point, this big sprawling mountainous city.
We started at the 1st station on the Red Line (the ten lines are color coded, as are the cabins & stations on each line) and disembarked at the 2nd station to visit the Cementario General; established in 1826. As noted, La Paz does have a shortage of flat space, and so sprawling cemeteries are not a viable option. Instead, Cementario General (a public operation) is a grid pattern of 'apartment buildings'; each of which has cubicles/'apartments' arranged 4-6 per column, and rows of 50 or more. These 'apartments' can be used for 10 years and then the remains of the deceased must be cremated (there is an onsite crematorium) and the ashes then collected by the family. Each 'apartment' is typically glass fronted and displays various personalized items (flowers, pictures, drink containers, mementos, etc.). Interesting place to visit.
We re-boarded the Red Line for the final ascent to the El Alto station. The observation area outside the station is at 4095m / 13,435' elevation. A great view of La Paz spreading out down the valley below, and up its increasingly steep sides; I can only imagine upon which near vertical, currently unbuilt upon, space the next neighborhood will be attached ?! Also in view are numerous snow covered peaks of the Andes Mountains (Cordillera Real); Illimani/Aymara at 6,438m / 21,122 feet looked massive, even in the distance.
We proceeded down from El Alto on the Linea Plateada, connected to the Linea Amarillo and finally to the Linea Verde at whose termination we were in the newest, modern neighborhoods of La Paz; Obrajes. Had lunch at Gustu (Bolivian native Quechua language word = Flavour), one of the top 20 restaurants in South America. The food was artistically presented, and tasted (better yet !) delicious. The only drawback to the experience was the proximity of the Bolivian General Elections on the following Sunday; Bolivian law mandates the cessation of alcohol being served/purchased 3 days before election day. No exuberance or dismay before, but ok afterwards ? Gustu is renowned for its wine list & pairings menu, but alas we could not experience those.
Proceeded back up the valley on the Linea Verde, then the Linea Celeste to its termination near our hotel; there were actually three different lines/stations about equidistant from our hotel. Back to terra firma we had to navigate through the chocker full sidewalks and across gridlocked streets of rush hour La Paz.
Great day touring La Paz from the tranquil Teleferico above.
Next on to Copacabana on the Bolivian south shore of Lake Titicaca (my how that elicited tittering giggles during grade school geography class). Hopefully we will discover what the hidden secret humour was all about ?
Ciao for now