So the blogs from Bolivia & Peru are all being done via my i phone so they may well be on the shorter side, it's no fun having to tap these out :)
I arrived in La Paz (one of the highest cities in the world at around 12,000ft) at 6am after a horrid long layover in Miami (that will teach me for booking the cheapest flight, but I'm also on a travelers budget so needs must). Small, simple airport and easy taxi ride (without getting too ripped off I think) direct to Hotel Rosario where I am staying for 2 nights. At this early check in time clearly my room was not ready, but they had a comfy couch in reception so I slept there for a couple of hours and by 8am the sweet reception guy woke me to tell me my room was ready. Bonus!
After a couple more hours sleep I ventured out of my small but comfortable room to do some exploring. The hotel is exactly what I like, a small, clean, basic colonial style property with plenty of ambiance and very friendly staff. English is spoken but I'm making a real effort to practice my Spanish. They also have free flowing Mate de Coca in reception which is good for altitude sickness and actually tastes quite good.
The front desk pointed me in the direction of the famous Witches Market and other key La Paz sites and I set off on foot eager to see what this city is about. First impressions are, it's pretty cold when the sun is not shining, it's a bustling city with locals going about their day to day business shopping mainly at small market stalls, it's pretty non threatening as far as large cities go, looks more likely you'll be hit by one of the many small public transport buses buzzing around than robbed. The traditional dress of the women is also fascinating, many different layers seem to be worn and a funny bowler type hat is common (need to find out what that is all about and pictures to follow). The dress is colorful and somewhat cartoon like.
I spent a few hours just wandering around but it's tough at this altitude, although I'm grateful for not feeling sick or with a headache. I browsed through many stalls selling local handicrafts and If I don't come back to the US with tons of brightly covered woven goods it's will be a miracle. Or how about a dried baby llama which seemed to be hanging everywhere, not too sure what they were for? I'm also in the market for an alpaca jumper although I suspect what might be fine worn over here cause it's so cold, will look hideous back home, lol. So far I've settled for a pair of alpaca mittens with llamas on them :)
Late afternoon I was back at the hotel and have booked a mountain bike excursion down the "Worlds Most Dangerous Road" for tomorrow. If I survive that a budget 2 night trip to the Salar de Uyuni (Salt flats) which turns into a 4 night trip as I have to overnight on 10 hour buses each way to get to the start point! This was the main thing I wanted to do in Bolivia although I have to admit the years of being a pampered Product Manager in the Caribbean may make this rustic experience tuff, let's see how I fare.
Dinner tonight was llama steak (that was a first!) with quinoa soufflé and a glass of Bolivian wine (which was very good). Followed by my 6th cup today of Mate de Coca.