Saturday, August 27, 2011

La Paz, dirty, stinky, noisy and we still liked it!

Arriving in La Paz, didn't surprise us we expected it to be crazy and it was from the high surrounding town of El Alto, to steep down centre of La Paz. Unorganized traffic with people and on the streets narrow streets made it even harder to drive but after 2 hours of hunting around the city we found place to stay for our five day stay in the high city. At nearly 4000 meters its the highest governing city with the highest commercial airport but thats not the lore of this city, its the culture, people and sites. Yes La Paz is dirty with garbage everywhere, smell of urine at all corners, polluted and loud from the unserviced vehicles if you can look past that the city has alot to offer. Great restaurants, shops, buildings and tours around the area.

on the local ferry one car only please

picking up local auto insurance for only $12usd for half a year

nice they named a street after me

local shops selling mummified animal heads

all this money in Bolivia equels about $50 kidding, its about $500

lively night market scene

After a long day of searching for a place to sleep we just rested and discovered a treat that we would love for the remaining time in Bolivia. Saltenas, a great hand held snake of crispy baked shell with gravy beef or chicken, potatoes and eggs so great that we had it almost everyday while in La Paz. Another great treat we enjoyed was Api a sweet hot drink of purple corn that really warms you up on those cold La Paz nights.

our day treat of saltenas just loved these little pastries
authentic Korean food in Bolivia on Calle Santa Cruz

On the second day Jieun, had to check out a Korean restaurant that we had passed the first day, I guess I was craving some kimchi also a good change from the foods we've been eating for the past 6 months. Not expecting too much from a Korean restaurant in Bolivia, after what he had tried in Cuzco, Peru but this place was the real deal great K- food and loads of side dishes.

On 3rd day in the city I decided to take on the famous death road while Jieun, decided to skip this and stay in the town. This road has more people dying on this stretch of gravel than another in the world and to make things more dangerous, I got the cheapest bike to ride on hoping my skills on the bike would keep me alive. Early morning we left the city on a 1.5hr drive to the spot and had breakfast. The first stretch of road was paved and we got up to speeds of over 60kph on the bike which feels a hell alot faster than in the van. After about 1 hr ride to we reached a tourist check point where we had to pay another $5 bucks to enter the unpaved, unmaintained dirt road but first we would all get back in the tour van for about 30mins because it was all up hill while in the van the guide handed out waiver to sign our lives away, from faulty bikes and plus we would be liable if any of the equipment was lost or damaged. (if they could find or bodies that is) Finally we arrive and the guide stresses another time how dangerous the road is and away we go. It was 3 hours of mostly down hill excitement at the bottom we had a shower, swim and lunch at a local hotel restaurant. Cost of this tour $50 and well recommended for any level bike rider just take it at your own time its no race because many tourist have died trying it.

final minutes before descending
keeping our hands warm

We survived death road yeah!
On the final day in La Paz we got treated to a Tinkus festival, Tinkus is a traditional combat dance of the Indigenous people of Potosi. Nowadays its only a colorful dance and party but still very fun and interesting to see. At night we did get to see some fighting in the form of cholitas,(girl wrestling) cheap local entertainment which the tourist eat up. It cost about $12 usd to see and you can buy at any tour office in town it takes place in El Alto above the city. Next on Bolivia will be Cochabamba.

this young boy entertained people to MJ music an dance, Jieun even tipped him
traditional colorful war dance of tinkus

popular local past time of female wresting (cholitas)