Have arrived in La Paz after a bit of a nightmare. Basically we went to check into our LAN airlines flight yesterday from Rio to Santiago and were told that we weren´t book on the flight. Oh my god PANIC! After speaking to the ticket sales desk we realised that because we didn´t take our flight, with the same airline, from Santiago to Mendoza in July (we decided to take the bus instead!) it meant that all our LAN airline flights had been cancelled. Very stupid of us not to tell anyone I know, anyway with a bit of pleading we managed to get the last two seats on the flight - very lucky. Unfortunately they couldn´t book us onto the Santiago - La Paz flight for the following day, we had to do that in Santiago, but said that there were lots of seats available so not to worry!! We also confirmed that all our other flights were still ok, so we are still coming home in October!!
We arrived in Santiago airport at 9pm and rushed to the LAN Airlines ticket desk to get booked onto the flight. Thankfully this was done with no trouble and we spent the rest of the night clinging to our bags as we slept in the airport! At 4am, feeling very sleepy, we checked in and then got our 6.45am flight to La Paz.
From the sky all we could see were the flat sparse plains of El Alto. It was only in the taxi at the top of the mountain did we catch that first glimpse of the beautiful city of La Paz. The buildings cling to the sides of the canyon and spill downwards and at 3660m high it really does take your breath away!
For tonight and tomorrow night we have a nice ensuite double at Adventure Brew Hostel, which is in a good location, has it´s own microbrewery and you get a free beer each night. It also has cheap laundry, at long last (no more hand washing in sinks!) and hot showers. We´re both just glad to be somewhere cheap again.
We´ve both felt a bit weird today, think it´s a bit of soroche (altitude sickness), so all we managed to do was have a wander down to Lanza Market, which sells anything and everything. Jem wanted to buy a padlock and the lady wouldn´t serve him, I got my bum pinched and I caught a young lad trying to pickpocket me, all I had in there was a map (we know not to take any valuables or bags out with us!). Apart from that the place has a good vibe and Jem managed to get his padlock from another stall! We had a great almuerzo (set lunch) at Restaurant Laza which was 3 course (bread, salad, veg soup and chicken & rice with chuno or tunta which is freezedried potato - horrible!) for less than a pound then we walked to Plaza San Francisco to admire the lovely 460-yr-old San Francisco Cathedral, the city´s landmark. It was good to see all the people milling around the square, especially because a lot of the women wear traditional clothes - long skirt, shawl, a coloured cloth wrapped around their back to either carry goods or to carry their baby and a bowler hat (a tradition apparently taken from the English!). We got interviewed by local students about our first impressions of La Paz and they gave us tips on what to see and do. First impressions are that the city has a great buzz about the place but is hectic, very noisy, lots of traffic and exhaust fumes. Tonight we´re just going to take it easy at the hostel and catch up on the Olympics. Speak soon xxx