Upon our arrival in Uyuni we weren´t to stay too long as we had a night bus organised direct to La Paz. Just enough time to sample some of the local grub and weak beer.
We jumped on the once again named ´tourist´ bus foolishly thinking that this would be any different and that our lives would somehow be safer on this form of transport. The only difference these buses have from the others is that they do not stop to pick up locals, hence preventing kidnappings from occuring.
After setting off it was not long before we were actually wishing to be kidnapped. The driver set off along the roads that we had taken that very morning to the salt flats (in the 4x4 Luis was driving slowly as the roads were slippy causing the back to veer out easily) at a constant break neck speed. There wasn´t a vehicle on the road that this crazed man wouldn´t overtake, more often than not with oncoming traffic. Needless to say the sleep was limited and the sweat was by the bucket load. We arrived to La Paz seemingly 4hr early where we were only to happy to get off.
We were now faced by our next task, according to many travel books the unscrupulous taxi drivers in La Paz were keen to relieve you of all your worldly possessions and potentially you also. Rather than play the ´which taxi looks ok?´ game we just walked to our hostel at the ripe hour of 5.30am.
La Paz in the daylight and La Paz under the cover of darkness are quite different cities. Our brains already loaded with images of kidnappings, robberies, attacks etc make even the most innocent of people a hardened criminal. Once the veil of darkness was removed La Paz turned out to be a really nice city, although rough around the edges and somewhat dirty it really had a hidden charm to it. Ironically we felt safer here than we had in many other South American cities. So much so that we decided to while away a week here.
Great times were had as many people that we had met at various stages of our journey seemed to be converging on the city at the same time. This gave us groups to hang out withm going for food and drinks and taking part in some of the more risky pastimes Bolivia has to offer.
Ben and Nick (a friend made on the 4x4 trip) decided to head down the El Camino De La Muerte (aka Death Road) together on mountain bikes. Although a stressful time was had by Reet and Caroline (Nicks partner) a great time was had by the lads. The ride was exceptional with great views some of which being 600m down a vertical cliff.
At the end of the ride they both went to a local animal sanctuary where animals being smuggled from the Peruvian rainforest had been intercepted and given a new safe home. Really nice to see the animals and to have a much needed feed after a days riding.
The scariest part of the day was the return to La Paz as the journey undertaken on bikes to get down had to be repeated going up in a minibus. In addition to this Ben came down with a stomach bug (soon to afflict everyone in our hostel) causing him to have to releave himself on the Death Road, possibly one of the most dangerous poos to date.
On return to La Paz Ben was ill for a day or so until the best part of the bug was removed from his body. The rest of the time in La Paz was spent going out for food, drinks and taking in the local atmosphere that the city had to offer.