Bolivia’s capital is the highest in the world, which is why most tourists usually take a day or two to acclimatize or risk getting altitude sickness. In my case, it was a combination of altitude and sickness. Having climbed Huayna Picchu two days prior and then having a full-day trip of Lake Titicaca the next day where I slipped on the boat and fell flat on my ass, I already convinced myself that La Paz would be nothing more than a bed rest pit stop for me to totally recover if I wanted to enjoy Uyuni’s salt flats come weekend.
Alejandro, the Bolivia Hop guy, was a bit frustrated with my Airbnb choice because the taxi driver did not know where it was. When they finally got to agree on a game plan that didn’t involve killing each other, I was finally on my way to bed rest after the four-hour bus trip. I was surprised to find out that the place was not that far away from the bus stop, not even 10 minutes! The alley just happened to be a bit secluded but we found the place anyway. Those guys are such drama queens, or maybe all of us were just tired.
True enough, the next day was spent on total bed rest. I did not even attempt to go anywhere anymore, aside from a quick trip to hunt for a good chicken place, which seems to be the norm in La Paz. My legs were sore. My lower back was aching. I had a really bad sore throat due to phlegm that I couldn’t expel from my lungs. I would have traded all of these for simple altitude sickness. Projectile vomit seems way simpler than having a cocktail of pain and discomfort that you just couldn’t get rid of.
When Saturday finally came, I had no choice but to get out of bed because it was already time for check out. The overnight bus to Uyuni did not leave until 9PM, which meant I had the entire day after lunch to explore a bit. It was hard because I had to bring everything with me. By “everything” I meant a backpack and a rather large paper bag, which I guess was still a better bet compared to heavy luggage. But still, it was inconvenient, especially because La Paz loves hills.
This is why my memory of the city is not that good. Hiking hills is a normal thing for the local populace. Well, not for me! Had I been in a better physical condition and devoid of annoying baggage, then I would have been up for it. Believe me when I say, though, that such topography contributes a lot to the variety of landscapes that you will see. And mind you, those landscapes are not just for the sake of photography, they also define the socioeconomic demographics of the entire city! How? Read on.
As we all know, the higher you go, the colder it gets. Unlike many cities in the world where the altitude of your abode is representative of your socioeconomic status, in La Paz, it’s the other way around. The more affluent opt to bask on the milder weather downhill, where their houses are the epitome of luxury, the object of envy for those making do of their cold brick houses on the hilltops. They say that in Bolivia’s capital, everyone is working his ass off in hopes of one day enjoying the temperate climes below.
But still, grab your cameras! The city is not devoid of great views. Given the altitude, the city also relies on three cable car lines which usher the locals from one level to another. Everyone I talked to said that riding them was not only a convenient way to get around, but rather also a good way to see some awesome scenery. I believe the fare does not go over BOB3 (~PHP20), which makes it really affordable. I wasn’t able to ride any of the three because I was busy trying not to die of exhaustion.
Or maybe I just did not know where the stations were! But I did see those cable cars from afar and they did look exciting. There’s always next time! In my case, I was already contented with the Killi-Killi viewing deck, as well as Plaza Murillo where most of the government buildings are located. I will talk about those in the next blog entry, and I will show you photos too! For now, all I can say is prepare to get literally high if La Paz is on your itinerary. And don’t say I didn’t warn you.
[LA PAZ] Literally High