La Paz

Trip Start Apr 09, 2013
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22
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Trip End Mar 15, 2014

Flag of Bolivia  ,
Sunday, June 16, 2013

From Copacabana we headed to La Paz. This journey took an unusual twist when after about an hour of driving we were told to get off the bus and head to a dock. Whilst we were in a queue for tickets we watched our bus (with all our luggage on it) drive into a lake. This turned out to be onto a boat but it really wasn't like any boat we had seen before. Our massive coach pretty much drove onto a piece of wood with small sides and then proceeded to float over to the other side of the lake for us to continue our journey to La Paz. 

Once in La Paz we took a day to acclimatise to the higher altitude where yet again it was harder to breathe and incredibly cold. We also chose to stay at a hostel which was up a gigantic hill so getting to the hostel everyday was a challenge in itself.

Whilst in La Paz we took a tourist bus to a place called Valle de la Luna (literally meaning valley of the moon). This place was rather surreal, in the middle of a bunch of mountains are some grey coloured rocks which really feel like you are walking on the moon.

Looking on trip advisor for interesting things to do we found out about a "hands on" musical museum which showcased many old Bolivia instruments and let you play on some too. This museum showed some excellent guitars made out of tortoise shells and armadillos, but this practice has now been stopped because it's a bit unfair on the armadillos and tortoises. Whilst in this museum we also found some "interesting" wind instruments (see photos for more info).
 
We also decided to try out Death Road (sorry parents we didn't want to worry you so chose not to tell you about this first!) Death road is the world's most dangerous road, it's narrow and has sheer drops too. This road was mainly dangerous for cars because there really isn't enough room for 2 cars to pass and many have gone over the edge. However, more recently a new road has been built and now Death road is mainly used by adrenaline junkies (like ourselves) to mountain bike down it at 40mph. However unfortunately for us on the day we chose to do this ride, there was a landslide on the new road so all the cars and vans continued to come down our road which definitely added a little more excitement. The weather was atrocious also, at points we could barely see our hands in front of us let alone what was lurking over the sides. We did however do our research beforehand & ensured we went with a company which only took small groups and had a good safety record. Luckily we made it down in one piece and had an absolute blast zooming downhill for 5 hours. Never before have we been on a bike ride where we didn't need to pedal at all for about 4 hours :)

Following on from our Inca adventures recently we realised that we would also be in La Paz for the winter solstice on 21 June (also the Aymara new year). This is a big celebration out here so we headed to a historical ruin (Tiwanaku) at 3 in the morning to watch the sun come up over a sacred pre-inca site. This sounds like it would be quite fun but basically this has got to be the coldest place in the whole world! Unfortunately as we had got soaked the day before, doing the death road bike ride, our boots were also soaked so our feet were absolutely freezing which made it difficult to enjoy the sun worshipping celebration for the pain that we felt (or couldn't feel) in our toes. When the sun finally came up Steph also fainted (clearly overwhelmed by the sun worshipping going on around her/or lack of breakfast) but woke up to find a stranger had put her feet up his jumper. Now that is an experience that she won't forget in a hurry. As the day progressed we also had our own little ceremony to mark this special occasion by burning loads of coca leaves, various plastic (and toxic) ornaments and a dead llama foetus. 

La Paz gets a thumbs up, lots to do and lots to see. Next stop Cochabamba. 
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