Category Archives: La Paz

Death Tour

Ivan woke up early on December 3, 2012 while I went back to sleep.  I kept falling back asleep.  Lil Dave went to explore La Paz with his friend George’s friend Martin.  Ivan went with some of the group mountain biking down the Most Dangerous Road which is also known as “The Death Road”.  I was too nervous that I’d fall off the death road, so I was staying in La Paz today.

I walked to Thai Palace for lunch, but for some reason it was closed even though it was noon and the sign said it opens at 11:30 am.  I walked around and couldn’t really find anything good.  I ended up going to a random chicken place.  I ate some fried chicken being bad and forgetting my vegetarian diet. 

I came back, took a shower and went to the lobby at 1:50 pm.  Ivan set up a walking tour for me so I was waiting for the tour guide.

Ben was there to pick me up at 2 pm for the Banjo City Tours.  We walked down the street to another hotel where we picked up an Australian woman named Rebecca.

We walked around the city.  One of our first stops was a market.  Each of us had a fruit drink filled with lots of different fruits and cereal on top. 

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Ben took us around the Old Centre where we saw government buildings in Plaza Murillo.  The Palacio Quemado is located in the plaza which is where the President of Bolivia resides.

We walked to the San Pedro area where the infamous San Pedro Prison is.  Up to 2009, tours were offered to the public.  But, the government thought they shouldn’t be rewarded by getting money from tours since they’re in prison to be punished.  Ben told us that it’s a community inside where prisoners have jobs.  The prisoners have to buy their own prison cells.  There are 1,500 inmates in the prisons which doesn’t include the wives and children of the husbands.  The wives and children can come and go as they please.  Very weird!  I would have loved to go inside to see how it runs and how they live.  We had to take a picture from afar since the police don’t like pictures being taken of the prison.  There’s a book called Marching Powder that’s about a British inmate named Thomas McFadden who spent four years in San Pedro Prison because of drug trafficking. 

Ben, Rebecca and I walked to a car.  Ben’s dad was giving us a ride up to El Alto.  We stopped at a lookout at Mirador Jach’A Kollo. 

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It was a great viewpoint of the city of La Paz. 

Then, we drove to El Alto.  We walked around the market where stalls sell fruits and vegetables. 

Ben took us to the Real Witches Market.  The stalls have silver jewelry, amulets, candy, potions, dried snakes and lots of dried llama fetuses. 

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The dried llama fetuses are used as an offering to Pachamama (Mother Earth) to protect your house when buried under your house’s foundation before it’s built. 

Our next stop was a street filled with shamens. 

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Rebecca and I were going to get a coca leaf reading.  Ben had a favorite shamen, but unfortunately he wasn’t there.  His family member was there which was actually a shawoman.  The shamens do healings as well but these are expensive.  I was thinking of having a healing done on my upset stomach which was still feeling weird since yesterday. 

Rebecca got her reading done first.  She wanted to know if she was going to get married.  The shawoman said she would meet somebody in a year and she already knew the person from school. 

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I went for my coca leaf reading.  The shawoman put coca leaves on a blanket.  She asked my name and my husband’s name.  I asked how many kids would I have.  She would then grab from a big pile of leaves, raise the leaves up and pour it down on the leaves.  She said that Ivan was very lucky and that we’d have three kids.  I also found out that I would have my first kid in 2013 (yes, next year!) and that it would be a girl.  I asked if they would be healthy and she said the first one would get sick a lot, nothing major though.  Interesting.  Ivan and I do want kids soon, but we only want two kids.

We got a public bus back down to La Paz.  Ben walked us through another market and then the black market where there’s no tax.  The tour finished shortly before 6:30 pm.  It was a great walking tour.  Ben is friendly, willing to answer any questions you have and he’s very knowledgable about the city.

Ivan came back at 7:25 pm. 

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He really enjoyed the scenery at the Death Road.  It wasn’t as scary as everybody makes it out to be. 

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He was so tired though from biking the 42 mile road. 

Later, we had dinner at Tambo Colonial.  Ivan and I shared a salad for a starter.  Lil Dave got a banana lasagna.  Ivan got a trout with a chestnut sauce while I had a spaghetti with mushrooms.  It was a lovely dinner.

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Thai Wrestling

Ivan and I went to lunch at Tierra Sana on December 2, 2012.  Lil Dave went to explore La Paz on his own.  We shared a Brazilian style peanut soup, chickpea salad, African stew and a Moroccan cous cous.  The food tasted great at this vegetarian restaurant. 

La Paz is known for having areas with all one things like Alcohol Alley is a street filled with stalls selling alcohol or Jean street. It’s good for the consumer since they don’t have to go far to compare prices.

We checked out a church nearby and then walked through the Witches Market which Ivan later found out was not the real Witches Market. 

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The most interesting thing are the large quantities of dried llama fetuses the stalls have.  It started showering, so we went back to the hotel.

Most of the group met in the lobby at 3:30 pm.  We were headed to see Cholitas wrestling.  Cholitas are women who dress in traditional Bolivian clothes. 

The bus came shortly before 4 pm and we were off to El Alto. 

Our ticket for the Cholitas Wrestling included entrance, 2 bathroom passes, a souvenir with a snack and a ticket to get back on the bus.  Most of the group got seats right in the front row. 

Our snack was bag of popcorn with a cup of soda with a souvenir of postcards with Cholitas wrestlers and a little clay Cholita. 

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The first fight was Batman versus a clown.  We soon found out that the referees were shady and always sided with one of the wrestling.  The referee would  sometimes help their friend out by slowly counting to three or actually hitting their friend’s opponent.  At first it was funny, but it got old after awhile.

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We saw 2 1/2 hours of wrestling.  There were different combinations like 2 Colitas facing off against each other, 2 Cholitas against a man, a Cholita against a man or two men against each other. 

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It was funny to watch.  Of course it’s all fake and choreographed (like the WWE), but it’s still fun to watch.

The front row wasn’t actually the best seat because a wrestler got thrown over the barrier right in front of me and Katie.  The wrestler was sitting on Katie for a few minutes.  The other wrestler’s leg came near my head to hit his opponent. 

At one time, a Cholita got two Gringos from the audience to help her out.  They were actually making the guy go into the ropes and then he tripped over one of them and fall on his back.  That would never happen in a Western country!! 

It was lots of fun watching the wrestling.  Ivan and I even bought our own bright wrestling masks. 

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The group got back on the bus at 7:30 pm. 

Later, we went to dinner at Thai Palace.  We saw Lydia, Marilyn, Paul and Sarah there and decided to join them for dinner.  Since we ordered before they arrived, we got our food first.  Ivan and I shared a horrible trout maki for starter, the seaweed wasn’t very good at all.  Ivan got a trout madras and I had a trout teriyaki.  The food was only okay.  It was a good thing that we came early since we heard later that the food took ages to come for the rest of the people in the restaurant.

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La Paz

Ivan, Lil Dave and I woke up at 6 am on December 1, 2012 and head breakfast at 6:20 am.

The Oasis group left at 6:45 am headed to the Peru-Bolivia border. 

First, we had to get our exit stamp for the Peruvian side.  Mel asked for me and Ty since we’re the only US citizens on the trip.

Then, we walked further to the Bolivian side.  US citizens have to pay $135 for their Visa.  Ty and I had an extra sheet to fill out.  Mel told us that we needed our Yellow Fever immunization and 2 passport pictures, but they guy didn’t need them.  The guy put a visa sticker in our passport.  We had to photocopy our passports and visa sticker.  Then, we got the entry stamp and were done.  USA charges Bolivians to enter America, so the Bolivians do the same when we visit their country.  The only good thing is that my visa is good for up to 5 years.

Franco drove us more into Bolivia and we stopped at a great viewpoint of the city of La Paz.

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We arrived at the Hotel Continental at 3:50 pm.   

Ivan had a briefing for the Death Road bike riding at 6 pm at the apartment upstairs.  I wasn’t doing it, so I stayed and worked on the blog in the room.

Ivan and I dressed up.  We figured everybody would want to party tonight since most people weren’t doing the Death Road biking until Monday.  There’s a lounge in the apartment upstairs.  Pizza was ordered.

Ivan put on house music and fun pop music which made people dance around.  We started drinking mango vodka and Red Bull.  The pizza took ages to arrive.  There were lots of vegetarian pizzas.  The pizza was just okay. 

At 10 pm, the group walked to a bar nearby that Melinda and Franco thought was good.  Too bad that it was closed for good.  We walked to Sol y Luna which is a restaurant and bar.  The group headed downstairs to the room with a pool table.  

Ivan and I wanted to go dancing, so we got a taxi.  The taxi driver didn’t understand English though.  We wanted to go to the Blue Note, but he found out from a guy on the street that it was closed.  So, we asked for Forum.  We arrived at Forum and it was empty, but there were five guys outside.  Ivan asked if they were open.  One guy said they don’t open until 1 am.  Ivan didn’t understand since he read a recent review of the place and it said you must arrive before 11 pm, otherwise it would take ages to get in.  I wonder if it’s the slow season right now.

We got a taxi back to Sol y Luna.  Ivan and I had a drink.  We told Harry that we should check out a club. 

Ivan, Harry, Jessica, Will, Pete and I got into a taxi.  We ended up at Traffic since another club was closed.  There was only one other couple inside.  We asked an employee what time it gets busy and he said midnight.  I doubt it though since it was already 11:25 pm.  Ivan and I had a Sex on the Beach. 

The music was really boring generic house music.  One couple came in and one left.  I used the toilet and it wouldn’t flush.  There also was no running water from the sink. 

Shortly before midnight, Ivan thought we should just go back to the hotel.

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