Kel: We made it to La Paz, the highest city in the world at 3.7km above sea level. We managed to find ourselves a legit taxi and made it to an apartment where we would stay for the next 3 days. We were absolutely knackered and just collapsed to begin with! We spent the rest of the day having a wander around the more suburban area where we were staying. It's a fantastic city set in the hills and it's just amazing to think that some people live so far up. A walk home back from the town takes on a new meaning there. Steep hills and altitude is a proper work out.
We also had a little dilemma to deal with. Not a stressful one in comparison with the average dilemma though. By this point we knew we couldn't go to Mexico any more and that poor Davy and Lynn's wedding had been cancelled. Unfortunately we couldn't make it to Cyprus where it had been rearranged, so the dilemma was..... where do we go next? To visit Matthew's brother and family Ed, Jenna, Sean and Mia in San Antonio, Texas, where they have recently re settled. Nice one!
The next day we were back in tourist mode and discovered La Paz. We had heard loads of horror stories about being mugged, so we went out without bags or camera and our scruffiest clothes (wasn't hard to find : ) ) We went to a fantastic art museum and were really impressed with the modern art work on show. We wandered round the main square where loads of people are waiting to shine your shoes, then we headed to the San Francisco church and had the most fantastic tour from a guide with brilliant English. He took us to the basement where they had the remains of many important characters during the Republic and Independent years, and showed us the life of San Franciscan monks, lots of example of local Christian art work (which has a very visibly different South American style compared to European equivalents), out to the herb gardens at the back and then up to the rooftop to see the bells and a fantastic view of the city from the top.
There are two very different styles in the city, the rich Spanish side, and the poor indigenous side, seen straight away from the change in architecture on each side. Today the people are starting to integrate very slowly and racism is still a massive massive issue there.
From there we wandered round some of the witches market, where you can buy alpaca gear and local handicrafts alongside lots of herbal remedies for illnesses. If there is something big that you wish for or want to heal then the locals believe you have to offer something big to the gods too..... like llama foetus! There were loads of dried out ones for sale too. Apparently they are taken from natural births gone wrong, rather than anything more sinister... but it was horrible!!!
Since we had the apartment we stayed in and cooked that night. Our last day in La Paz was spent shopping in the wee streets and we had a great meal out too (steak for £4 ... can't beat it really).
Overall, we both absolutely loved La Paz. There was just so much going on and lots of people watching to do. The crazy shouting from minibuses to advertise their routes to the public, loads of pure bred Aymaran women wearing the traditional outfits (wide long skirts and bowler hats tipped to the side sitting very high on their heads, with the longest pleats you've ever seen that invariably went down to their bums), the shoe shine guys, the crazy traffic, the llama foetuses.... the list goes on. Mental, exciting, fun and exhausting!
Since we weren't going to be spending lots of money in Cancun any more we decided to treat ourselves on the next part of our trip, which was going to take us from Bolivia into Peru via Lake Titicaca. We booked a tour which picked us up the following day .... v exciting.