“In La Paz you will get taken for a ride” That’s what a friend told me before I left for this trip. Now I understand.
I’d go as far as saying that I’m a true believer, and that this applies to Bolivia in general. Everyone, from the hostel… to the bus company… to the laundry lady. It’s a bit like a ‘smash and grab’. If you stand out as being from a western country it’s pretty much a definite, if you’re petite and blonde you can add a little extra on top of that too, because for some reason that equates to money… I blame American movies. The only saving grace is that due to the exchange rate, you’re probably only going to get ripped off a few dollars on most occasions… although that’s only if we’re not talking about having your belongings nicked. “But this is just Bolivia, take it in your stride and roll with it” is the extra bit of advice my friend gave me. So I did just that.
I finally arrived in La Paz from Copacabana via a hefty road trip. I was sick and really glad to finally be able to stay in one place and get some rest. As it turned out, half our hostel was in the same predicament. Apparently Bolivia is the place where most get torn down with ‘the sickness’, and La Paz is the place to chill out and make it all better (which happens to coincide with over the counter antibiotics). So after two days I sent my travel buddy off to climb a mountain, and got a whole three days of chill time on my own.
I was staying in an Irish hostel called Wild Rovers, there was a smokey bar, wifi,comfy beds, and loads of drinking going on. So I found my little corner to kick back in. I made a small bunch of friends to hang out with, including a kiwi girl named Diana. The cool kids as usual, were clicky. La Paz is the first time I’ve found myself stuck in one place on my travels. Not stuck like no way out, but stuck like…. I’m comfortable… I don’t really want a way out. And this hostel was full of people who’d gotten stuck. Travellers who woke up too hung over or otherwise intoxicated to leave every morning and ended up staying for weeks on end.
As a city, La Paz is large and chaotic, as per most capital cities. At an altitude of 3660 meters it’s the world highest capital city. About half of the cars on the road seem to have black smoke pumping out of them, so adding a face full of dirty exhaust fumes to that altitude and it’s tough to walk anywhere. But when you do make it outdoors its definitely worth it, La Paz is an intriguing city. It’s the perfect place just to roam the cobbled streets and take it all in.