We pulled into La Paz for the second time but this time instead of heading to a beautiful 5-star hotel in a direct drop off bus, we put our backpacks on our back and hiked it for a couple kilometres to find our hostel. Turns out it was quite a nice hostel with a great rooftop bar to hang out in. We spent the first afternoon here on the internet and discovered that there was actually a microbrewery at the hostel. We took advantage of this and enjoyed really nice beer for the first time in 6 months and got a little toasty!
We had planned to leave the next day to head to our next destination but due to sore heads, decided an extra night was best. Turns out this was a great idea as our second night was a Sunday and in La Paz this means, Cholita Wrestling!
We jumped on a bus with loads of other tourists and found ourselves walking into a small indoor sports arena with a wrestling ring in the centre with makeshift grandstands on all four sides. Imagine WWE (wrestling on American TV that is obviously correographed) and you'll have a good idea of what we were in for!
It started with skinny guys dressed up wearing masks, putting on a laughable show. A few fights later and out come the Cholitas (local women wearing the traditional style clothing). They wrestled against guys and each other, jumping from the top rope, doing somersaults and everything you see the guys doing (who ganged up on them). It was very funny and although it was ridiculously fake, it was cool to see these women doing what they were doing and in their beautiful dresses.... haha! One lady jumped from the top rope and landed on her wrist bent backwards and broke it but the other Cholita see it and kept throwing fake punches at her and throwing her around the ring. The referee soon broke his persona of Cholita-hater and stopped the fight and helped her out of the ring. We felt sorry for her and hoped she had some sort of WorkCover or insurance (we doubt it...).
Next morning we found a makeshift bus terminal for busses heading towards Coroico. As soon as we stepped out of the taxi we had people yelling at us trying to get us to take their particular bus. We told them to calm down and wait until we'd paid the taxi driver which they didn't like too much. In the end we had two options: a big old bus that looked like it might fall apart, hold a few chickens and we had to put our bags on the roof (it was raining...), the other was a small Torago looking minivan that was 10 Bolivianos extra ($1.50) and bags went inside... choice made.
We met a couple from Norway on the minibus who were really nice and we had a good chat with them along the 2 hour ride down. The scenery was beautiful. There were waterfalls around every turn and we wove all the way down in between giant mountains leaving La Paz's high altitude and arriving back in low altitude giving our lungs another rest.
We decided to join the Norwegian couple and we found a hotel together that was a 15 minute walk out of town, but well worth it for the views we got. That afternoon we just relaxed and soaked in the area. We did the same thing again the next day by the pool with a couple of bottles of red wine, our books and our new Norwegian friends.
The following day we took our built up energy and the four of us found directions to the Cascadas, a trio of waterfalls a few hours hike out of town. It was difficult for Kate and I as we hadn't done any form of walking in a long time so our legs were burning after the first kilometre. The Norwegians on the other hand had been in the army and hiked up huge mountains and skiied down, getting stuck in avalanches along the way and were in other words well trained for the outdoors.
It was well worth the effort. We arrived at the first of the three waterfalls. It was set on the side of the road but surrounded by lush green forrest on every side with other tourists swimming under it. We were going to jump in also but decided we'd check out the other two first. It was another 15 minutes to the next one which was even more pretty than the first but not one you could swim underneath. We continued on to the third, about another 10 minutes up the road.
The third is the main attraction of the three and you had to pay 4 Bolivianos (75c) to get in and it was a 5 minute walk off the road. You could hear it before even arriving near it. It was a 56m freefall landing in a pool at the bottom, surrounded by jungle and mist was flying everywhere. It was the best waterfall I have defiantely ever seen up close! We had no choice but to take off our clothes and get in..... Holy [email protected]#$!!!!!
The water was only just above freezing (complete guess but it was bloody cold!). We swam around for about 5-10 minutes freezing our arses off but loving it getting right up under the water falling and stinging our heads and backs. It was a moment not easily forgotten!
We hiked back down with only short stops to look at the other waterfalls again and to rest. Our legs were like jelly when we got back to the hotel after walking almost 15km!
We used the next day to rest our weary bones and chill out in the relaxed vibe of the area and headed back up the next morning to La Paz and high altitude. It was a great getaway from the city and altitude and definately worth it!