Where are we?

Wow! Fun day in La Paz!

Today I've got us booked for a 3 hour walking tour of La Paz that starts at 11am.  So after we have breakfast we leave Vanna around 9:30 to start our trip down into La Paz on the TelefĂ©rico!  We walk to the first station which is 2 blocks away.  Pretty quiet around here this morning.

We buy our tickets to ride 2 different lines of the telefĂ©rico for only 3 bolivianos(bol) each. Which is only 60 cents each Canadian.  We walk up to the platform and step into the car.  There are only 3 of us in the car and there was no lineup to get on.  We glide over the streets and take in the great views of El Alto. Then once we past thru 2 more stations we drop down into La Paz. What a sight! There seems to be at least 3 different central areas where high-rises are.  Thousands of small houses all attached to each other cling to the side of the hill looking down at La Paz.  We can even see a little of the glacier covered Mt Illimani the highest mountain in Bolivia at 6462m

Loading station for our first cable car

Over top of El Alto

Mt Illimani in the back

Parks have been added around the cable stations

Once we drop from El Alta into La Paz these houses have been brightly painted along with painted murals

And next to them the house are the regular brick brown

We go over a very large cemetery that was started in 1826

Thousands of wall crypts that can only be rented for 10 yrs then the body will be cremated and given to the family

Glacier poking out in the background

Interesting to see what people collect in their backyards!!

Within 30 minutes we are in the centre of La Paz. Driving would have taken at least an hour if not longer. We start to walk towards Parque Sucre where we will our guide, but we have lots of time. We get to the park and walk around and wait.

How would like to have his job!!

Can't be looking around and walking because you never know when something can grab your foot and break an ankle!

Walking towards Plaza Sucre

These are popped wheat thingys - sweeten and a snack

MANY vendors around selling the same stuff

Plaza Sucre 

Mother starting her young daughter early selling candy from her basket - along with a little apron

We meet up with David, a native Bolivian and belongs to the indigenous group Aymara. Throughout the previous countries the major indigenous group have been the Quechua. He is very proud of his heritage.

He starts out by telling us about the prison which is next to the square. This place is unbelievable! It was built in 1895 and takes up a square block. There are policemen outside the gate and the perimeter of the jail - there are NO guards inside! The prison was built to hold 250 prisons but today there are well over 3000, because prisoners can bring in their families to live inside! Inside they are like a community and have to work and pay rent for their cell to the owner of the cell who is another prisoner! Not only that but they have a cocaine lab inside where they make cocaine and pitch out to connections outside the prison thru windows that were added on the roof! That is if they can't bribe one of the police to pass the cocaine on to a supplier.  There are high end cells that have a kitchen, bathroom even a hottub but most cells are small and hold 5 inmates. Up until a few years ago tourist could go in and tour the jail but guess problems arose from that and it was stopped. Pretty insane place!!

We then walked thru many markets along the streets. One was the Witches Market. Here many things can be bought such as a dried llama fetus used for sacrifice to Pacha-mama (mother earth) when building a new house. This is to keep the new owners and the builders save while the house is being built. Now the crazy one is when a high-rise is built!  A much bigger sacrifice is needed to ensure safety of the builders. The Shaman and a couple of others go to the area where homeless and alcoholics live. They question different people and pick the one that answers that nobody would miss them if they died. At that point the Shaman tells that person to come with them and they will celebrate.  They go to the building site where they drink and once the person is very drunk and passes out they put him in the hole that has been dug for this reason.  They do their ritual thing and then pour concrete over the body!! This is the sacrifice to Pacha-mama. I guess that's one way to reduce the number of homeless people! Strange!!

These white potatoes have been frozen in very cold water, dried and then they are white. The have to be soaked for 30 mins before they can be boiled and eaten like regular potatoes but these are very expensive

Hummm not sure about buying fish that's been sitting out

Being a vendor is tiring work ;)

As mom works the little guy gets to eat chocolate bars

Witch's market - different products to make your life happier ;)

Look close to see the hanging dried llama fetuses 
Then we walk to the main Plaza of La Paz called Pedro Murillo. Here is where the Presidential Palace is and the National Congress building. Also the Cathedral Basilica which was originally built in 1692 and took 70 years to build. Then in 1831 it was demolished because it was felt it was no longer safe and was starting to crumble. The new church was started in 1835 and only inaugurated in 1925! It opened that year but continued work was done and the bell towers were not completed until 1989.  There are 2 guards at one end who guard the tomb of the 7th president that lies inside the vestibule.

Plaza Pedro Murillo - helped in Boliva independence back in 1810 

Cathedral Basilica 

Guarding the tomb

Next to that is the Presidential Palace which was built in the mid 1800's. Behind that is the New Presidential Palace built by Evo Morales - 29 story glass building that opened in Aug 2018 at a cost of $34M! Of course his 1068 sq meter suite includes jacuzzi, sauna, gym, massage room etc etc! But he only got to enjoy it until last Nov when he was forced to resign 😁

At the Palace today the miners are protesting

3 flags of Bolivia - the one with squares is the Indigenous flag, middle Bolivia's flag and the Blue one is in hopes of regaining the Pacific Ocean access taken by the Chileans

The new Palace behind the old 
The Congress building also has a new high-rise being built behind it for it's new home. The backwards clock on the building is because in the southern hemisphere the shadow of the sundial moves counter-clockwise so the clock was changed in 2014 to show it correctly.

National Congress building - enlarge the picture and you can see the backwards clock :)

A few other tidbits:
1) The reason for the woman wearing the bowler hats - back when the railway was being built it was being done by the British. The Englishmen worn bowler hats and thought they should make and bring them to Bolivia to sell and make some extra money. They thought since the Bolivians were small people that the hats should be made small. But as it turns out the heads of the Bolivians were not that small so the men wouldn't buy the small hats. So the British being stuck with all these small hats then decide to get the woman to wear them. Since the woman were always bent forward from carrying big packs on their backs the British told them that wearing this hat would make them stand straighter to balance the hat and make them look more elegant. The women agreed that they they did look better with the bowler hat and have continued to wear them, even though I see alot just wearing big sunhats.

2) Why the women wear many layers of skirts - it is to make their hips look bigger making them "more fertile" in the eyes of the men :)

3) The reason the shoe shine boys/girls wear a balaclava is to keep their face covered so no one recognizes them because it is a very lowly job

4) The Amazon fires of last year actually started in Bolivia. The reason that President Morales would not allow outside help to stop the fires was because then the many cocaine labs within the amazon would be found!

The tour was finished at a bar where we all went upstairs into a private room and David proceeded to show us how to chew on coca leaves. In the small pile of leaves he adds a little piece of flavour like mint or honey, balls up the leaves and puts it in his cheek. So we all tried it and only kept in our cheek for 10 mins - by that time our tongues were already getting numb.  But there were no lasting results 😉  But he did tell us that chewing on coca leaves for long periods of time makes you loose your appetite and makes you strong - for this reason the Spaniards back in the 1500's would give bags of coca leaves to the miners so they would work 12-14 hrs without a break!

After that Dwayne and I started taking different cable car lines around the city - cheap way to see the city and also an easy way, no walking up all the hills and falling over from not getting enough oxygen!!

We got back to Vanna by 4:30 so had a full day touring and learning about La Paz!  Tomorrow we will leave and continue further south.

Street yummies - dough stretched 

And dropped in hot oil to puff up - really good :)

A couple more, cake roll with sweet filling for Dwayne and I have corn bread with cheese

The Purple Cable cars - the whole system was built by Doppelmeyer 

Sights from the cable car

Going over the nice neighbourhood of Sopcachi - the houses here have nice back and front yards

Then on the other side woman are doing laundry by hand on the roof

Such amazing views!

We go over a deep valley

Where people still walk up and down from El Alto to La Paz

Houses stacked up the hill to El Alto

Odd mountains in the city - look like just made with sand

The top of La Paz - El Alto with the altiplanos behind that then the high Andes mountains

In our last cable car going over the markets in the area we are staying in

Barely room for vehicles to get thru!


  1. If only the prisons in North America could exist like these ones. Shows what huge differences there are in the cultures. Do you see much of the drug trade there?

    1. I think the setup is pretty strange at that prison! Having to pay rent to another prisoner who owns your cell?? No haven't noticed anything to do with drugs. No big fancy fast cars here ;)