Thursday, July 17th, 2003 – Day 149
Anyway the bus journey had a big American group from Berkeley who were many too introspective. The bus was full but I had one of the few seats with no one beside me (maybe because I only changed my ticket yesterday). I slept on and off during the journey which was pleasant. Unlike my previous journey from La Paz to Cusco (via Punco and about 20 other towns), this was a direct service via Tiwanaku. We reached the border without stopped at 7.00am in the morning but the border office only opened at 8.00am. The views at 5.00am with a red sky overlooking Lake Titicaca. It was a wonderful sight with the shimmering lake and beautiful sky.
There was nothing to do except stay in the bus or mope around. I had breakfast (with full rice and fish plate) for 3 Soles (with juice, coffee, bread) and passed border controls with no hassles. We reached La Paz at 12.00am which with clocks was 1.00pm local time. As I had no local currency I walked to the hostel (20 minutes) where I had stayed previously (Torino Hotel). I forgot how out of breath you can become in the worlds highest capital. I booked into a single room for 25 B a night (without private bath).
I did very little all day. I posted two parcels home of clothes (for me and family) home from the main post office. It takes quite a long time. You have to go to the main office, then downstairs where the contents are opened and examined. You then have to pay a lady to pack them. You go to another office to weight and pay. You have to get the parcel stamped by the inspector and etc.
I went to the cinema around 7.30pm. I knew of this place in a bad side of town near the cemetery (up by the Black Market). Its cheap and cheerful. I went to see The Hot Chick which was OK but hammered home the same points again and again, Matrix reloaded (found it better second time round) and X-Men 2 (didn’t stay for it as I have seen it before). A triple bill of recent films for 10 B (1.20 EURO). It was 11pm by the time I left and as I had no slept in a bed for three days, decided for an early night (and hopefully a late morning start as well).
I have been to La Paz before. See previous by checking these links out:
La Paz (Catherdral, Black Market) ,
La Paz – Bolivia (Plaza Pedro de Murillo, cemetery),
La Paz – Bolivia (San Pedro Jail) ,
La Paz – Bolivia (Moon Valley, Zoo) ,
La Paz – Bolivia (Tiwanaku) ,
La Paz – Bolivia (unpublished photos).
Friday, July 18th, 2003 – Day 150
I was up at 10.00am. It was a very cold during the night (VERY COLD). Probably because it is winter here and we are at 12,464-ft./3,739m altitude. There were still a lot of material up for the La Paz Civic day which was held on July 16th. There was also a large miners demonstration at the Palace of Justice five blocks from my hostel. It was the cold and them firing off fireworks and shouting slogans that woke me. I went down to the demonstration where all the mines that there hard hats on. There were a lot of riot police about and it was ready to kick off. The miners were blocking roads up to a few weeks ago and one protester was killed. They actually threw sticks of dynamite under any bus that tried to pass.
Click on the picture to see it in its original size
La Paz – Bolivia – Miners (18-07-2003)
Anyway I went down to a market to get breakfast (lovely hot cheese filled empandases). Anyway I was not going to do much today. In fact I did nothing of interest. I ordered some hand made fleeces to my specs. They are 40 B each and they are double backed. You can have letter, logos, strips – anything you want on them. It is an institution here that you MUST get a fleece while in La Paz.
I spent most of the day in the Black Market. You could spend weeks up here and not see the same stall twice. I enjoyed my day walking around. I don’t want to do any tourist activities while in La Paz. I am here to relax and wait for my ATM card. Passed a street in the Black market that sells 2nd, 3rd, 4th hand goods . Its the busiest street in the market and is always black with people. Saw hawkers here trying to get people into their home cinema set ups. They show pirated movies (the latest like the Hulk, Terminator 3) in their rooms for 3/4 B (.50 Euro). Usually its an ordinary TV with Spanish subtitles. Just a dark room with 30/40 stools or chairs. Just like the days when cinema was first introduced.
Click on the picture to see it in its original size
La Paz – Bolivia – Market (18-07-2003)
At about 7.00pm the whole city was plunged into darkness. It was eerie as it is a major city within a basin of a crater and there was nothing except candles and car lights. You might expect one part of the city to loose power but not the whole city. Anyway I was in the middle of the market which is hard to navigate during day light. No bragging here but I am blessed with a good sense of direction. I made my way out and down in 20 minutes. There was no point in going back to the hostel with no power so I spotted a local bar with candles. I had an atmospheric bottle of beer (5 b) before the lights came back at 9.00pm. I had not planned to out tonight – it was freezing so nothing else to report.