Altitude sickness, Coca Tea and free pancakes!
Well here we are in La Paz. It wasn’t in the ‘plan’ to come straight here but to get to Sucre, Bolivia for our Spanish school we had to come via La Paz. So at the bus terminal in Arica we were trying to ask the bus agent if we could stop somewhere for a night or two on the way to La Paz that was half the altitude because for those of you that don’t know La Paz is the highest capital city in the world at about 3600m above sea level. This however was quite had to translate and we must have looked quite a sight: me madly flipping through the phrase books and biddy drawing pictures of mountains and mimicking vomiting from altitude sickness. Eventually he called his friend that owned a hostel opposite the bus station and he came across to translate haha! Pretty much there was no way around it unless we flew. So we booked a 7hr bus trip to La Paz the next day. Bit disappointed with sunny days hostel in Arica. Was supposed to be NZ guy and Chilean woman running it but only Chilean woman was there and she didn’t speak any English and was mean and charged us $9ea to do a bit of washing!! Reviews said how helpful NZ guys was to western tourists but he wasn’t there
The bus ride here was great, apart from the tight squeeze. More desert, majestic mountains and wild LLAMAS!
So to continue onto Sucre straight from LaPaz it would have been another 12 hour bus ride so we’ve booked in a hostel here for two night but will prob stay longer. We left the bus terminal in search of an internet cafe to book some accommodation but the biddy spotted a western looking tourist was walking behind us so we asked her if she spoke English and turns out she was from Greenwood, Perth haha! She recommended her hostel around the corner and we checked in there. We are in a funny old building with high ceilings with detailed cornices but like most buildings here its quite run down and the downstairs smells like wee so we are up stairs in a 12 person dorm but luckily we are only sharing with 2 other atm and ear plugs are a wonderful thing... but for about $5.50AUD a night you can’t complain!! Pancakes provided for breakie and quick shower now we are off to explore La Paz. It is an unreal city, teered in a canyon and all the streets are steep and cobbled and the whole place looks as though it’s about to fall apart.
We don’t seem to have much altitude sickness, just a bit of shortness of breath and a slight headache but they say symptoms pass after the 1st 24hrs or so as you acclimatise.
So for our 1st full day we went to top of city to a dodgy lookout then some smelly rocky markets. I love seeing all the local woman (cholitas) in their local dress. Someone tried to pick my pockets while we were wondering around. It was quite crowded and someone stepped on my foot. I’m not sure if they were working together or whether she just took advantage of me being distracted so while limping I felt a hand slip in my pocket (had my phone in) and turned round and yelled “hey” and pushed the hand away of this beggar woman and she just grumbled pulled her hands back and wondered away. Then we came back to hostel, we were travelling in vans that are old communal taxis that run round and round the city with a person leaning out yelling the route there heading. It’s a cheap way of travelling costing about 1-2 Bolivianos each way (20-40cents). On the way back we were 2 of 20 people crammed in the van bahaha!
Dinner at the main hostel building. We only had 3 pints (plus a shot of mysterious liquor that our table won at the quiz night...ugh) but drinking + altitude = mega hangover so we didn’t feel grand this morning but could have been a lot worse. More free pancakes for breakie then off to see San Francisco cathedral then browsing local markets, a lot nicer than the ones we saw yesterday, and then a 1hr hot rocks massage. It wasn’t the best but you cant complain for $12!!
So now here we are at the main building of our hostel drinking our daily free beer with Kev, a Derbyshire lad that staying in our room and I can finally get wireless on my laptop!
And tomorrow we are mountain biking down the Worlds Most Dangerous Road!!!! WEEEEEEEE
Wish us luck and hopefully there’ll be another blog! Haha nah just kidding its actually really safe, no one has died with our tour company for 18 months!