Tiwanaku

Trip Start Sep 01, 2005
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72
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Trip End Jul 21, 2006


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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

From my last visit I remember La Paz as being a unique city. Set in an enormous crater the view of the city from the road in is breathtaking. People crowd the hilly streets with stalls selling all manner of items.
There had been some changes in the past nine years though. For a start I noticed the city was cleaner - less litter and no raw sewage running in the streets which is an improvement. There are also lots more tourists here now and facilities to cater to their needs. There are internet cafes, tour agencies and smart coffee shops which were not here last time. I like the improvements and can't complain about the number of tourists since I am one.
One place I hadn't visited last time was Tiwanaku. This site 70km for the city was once the centre of a vast pre-inca civilization. The site is thousands of years old and quite impressive despite the damage done by the conquistadors intent on wiping out non catholic beliefs. Only part of the site has been excavated due to lack of funds but I was still impressed by history of the site as told by my group's guide, Oscar.
Back in the city I was feeling a little ill with a cold so went to find a cure in the Witches Market. In this part of the city it is possible to buy traditional herbal remedies and healing talismans. I asked the Aymaran stall holder what she had for a cold and she sold me a turtle talisman for health. The stalls also sold dried llama foetuses for use in traditional ceremonies but I didn't have room in my bag for one.
The market also has many tourist shops selling a wide range of souvenirs. The price and quality of things was stunning and even a non-shopper like me couldn't resist buying a few things.
There are also more bars and clubs in La Paz now and I thought I would be fun to sample a few on my last night in town. Luckily I was feeling a bit better so the turtle talisman must be working. I arranged to meet with Alison and Ellie, whom I'd met on the Tiwanaku tour, in the Sol y Luna bar. After a drink we decided to explore Sopocachi which is the neighbourhood with more upmarket bars. Here we found Diesel bar - a bizarre post apocolyse themed place decorated with old car and aircraft parts. Next we went to Mongos, a famous La Paz pub which had a great mix of locals and gringos dancing and drinking. I had also arranged to meet my friend Monica who I'd met in Santa Cruz a few weeks ago. The four of us had fun dancing on the packed dancefloor in Mongos and I found the people all really friendly.
The next day my head was pounding. It seems the turtle talisman doesn't work on self inflicted illness.
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