After waiting to collect our bus tickets to La Paz at Uyuni till the very last minute, we were finally sat on the bus ready to go. Lets just say that the buses in Bolivia are quite different to those in Argentina. Still the seats went back, so i guess i cannot complain too much.
Because we had been waiting for our tour lady to give us the bus tickets, i did not manage to get to go to the loo before our bus journey, and i was bursting even before we got to the bus, so as you can imagine, i was not a happy bunny. Once the bus finally moved (30 mins later than scheduled) we headed off on what can only be described as the most torrid journey of my life. The road was a thin gravel road, and just ditches at either side. (there were quite a few cars that had fallen prey to those ditches along the way.) So anyway, that was one issue, but the main isue was that it was so bumpy it was worse than being on a plane with extreme turbulance, plus my ears kept popping the whole way, and all this bouncing up and down was playing havoc with my bladder. This whole expereinec lasted for about 5 hours.
During the time, the bus stopped, which I hoped meant I could get off to go to the loo, but some vile fat specimen of a man was lying on the bus floor, and when I asked him to move, he looked up at me and said ´NO!´ There were so many words I could have used at him, but i restrained myself and went back to my seat, bladder aching.
About 1 hour later, the bus stopped again, and i was taking no prisoners, the vile man was now fully asleep on the filthy bus floor, so I walked over him, making sure I stepped on him in a delicate region. And finally, I was able to pee.! WHAT A RELIEF!! Now i could finally try and get some sleep.
So around 7am we arrived in La Paz.
Las paz is a city to be seen. The City sits between mountians as if in a bowl shape, and the outer edge/hills of the city is covered in buildings, it is difficult to explain, but it is truly amazing.
La Paz is 3660m above sea level, so to say the altitude got to me a bit is an understatement.
The first day, we finally got into our hostel room, and had a kip and a shower. Then we headed out in search of a supermarket to get some food.
The supermarket is right on the other side of the city, and at the time we were going, trying to get a taxi is a no no, so we walked. At that time i was fine, but when we got into the supermarket, it was boiling. it wasn´t long till i was sitting in the fruit and veg section feeling faint.
And then it just got worse! The whole way back i though i was literally gonna die. Feeling sick, weak, faint, and like my head was going to explode, and not one taxi would take us back to the hostel. Every time one stopped, and we tell them where we wanted to go they said no and drive off. I have never wanted to cry so much.
Somehow, and i am really not sure how, we managed to climb the hill back up to our hostel. It must have taken a good few hours to trudge back, and the last thing i wanted was food.
When i got back to the room, i literally collapsed on the bed in a heap. When i finally had the energy to get up i went to the bathroom to spray some cold water on my face, and saw that my face was as red as a tomato. It stayed like that all night.
The next day, feeling much better and refreshed and loaded with pancakes, tea and water, i was ready to take La Paz on.
We went to ´Gringo Alley´ which is basically where all the little shops and market stalls are that sell alpaca everything and other such treasures. They also have a witches market where you can buy very strange things such as Llama Foetus´s which the locals put under their porches for good luck. anyone fancy one? haha
There is also the Coca Museum, which we paid a visit to. it was a warm welcome to me, not just because it was interesting, but because it is so hot outside, and i was worried i would have another breakdown. Inside it was lovely and cool, and to sit and just read about the history of coca was great.
You really do realise what sods the western folk were to these people. for example, the catholic church at first tried to eradicate coca, but when they realised it made the slaves work longer, they were happy to keep it on. For a time coca was worth more than gold or silver, and therefore the western folk forbid the indigenous ppl to have it, grow it, anything. nowdays, even though it grows in this region, America, Germany, the UK and a few other countries are allowed to trade coca, Bolivia and Peru are not even though it is from there.
So after the coca museum, we strolled though the streets looking for cheap goodies, and I had a few feeble attempts at bartering. i walked away with a few treasures, all cheaper than quoted, but i´m sure if i was more abrupt i could have done better. oh well. i am pleased with my items none the less.
The next day, Fiona´s other pair of jeans ripped in the crotch, and so our mission for more jeans began all over again. after what can only be considered a freezing shower... we headed out.
We had read there was any area close to Gringo Alley that sold fake designer clothes, so with our fingers crossed we headed there only to be confronted with the most hideous chavvy looking clothes ever. MK market sold better quality goods. and the ppl were so rude, in some shops the women point blank refused to serve us, and when we walked away they would giggle and laugh to themselves, i hope karma comes and bites them in the butt.
After many a failed attempt to find a pair of jeans just right for fi we decided to search on the other side of town. we found a really pretty square, but alas we could not go and sit down, because there was a sea full of pigeons. and Fi is terrified of them. I took some crazy pics of people looking like the bird woman in Mary Poppins.
We strolled further and managed to get some great pics of the city.
and finally on our way back we found some second hand stores and lo and behold the perfect pair of jeans for Fi! RESULT!!!
That night we decided we would go out. well at first we thought we would go and get some drinks in the hostel bar, only to find it closed, and eager not to hang around like lemons, we went to the other side of town, to an irish bar. The bar aside from bearing the traditional irish colours and playing music from the corrs, U2 and possibly westlife, was not as Irish as Fi had hoped, but still had a good atmosphere and the non- english speaking waiter was a cutie which was a perk. Still we had a nice evening there, drinking a bolivian beer called Bock and chatting. and avoiding eye contact with a couple that spent the whole eveing literally eating eachother, I´m surprised there was anything left of them by the time they left.
After the irish bar, we decided to head to the elusive ´Mongo´s´which is apparently Gringo central. We were hopeful we might meet some nice travellers wih some interesting stories. However... Mongo´s is more like the kind of clubs you go to when you are a teenager, everyone out for one thing, and Fi and I realised we were really too old for this kind of thing. Still we were there and decided we might as well have a laugh, so we danced and jumped about to the awful music and got chatting to some randoms. I made ´friends´ with some Agentinians, one a student studying German in Bolivia (odd combination..) and the others were footballers. I was close to telling them that footballers don´t do it for me and that I´m a tennis girl all the way, but they were such eager little puppies, i decided to play nice. Plus Fiona had deserted me to mess around with 2 Brazilian best friends, so my hands were tied.
The Argentinians kept begging me to go back to theirs for coffee, but i declined, and they went all huffy saying i was not a nice person... oh well.
The night eventually ended and Fi and I headed back to the Hostel.
The next day was spent recovering. It is very clear i am not a big drinker as i swear it takes a good few days to get over nights like that.
We are off to Copacabana on tuesday, going to the Isla del Sol in Lake Titicaca, and then on to Puno in Peru to see the floating Islands in Lake Titicaca. I´m very excited because we will be seeing some amazing thing, and at the moment i am very much over the polluted mess of La Paz.