Wednesday, July 20, 2011

La Paz

From Lake Titicaca we headed straight over to Bolivia's capital city, La Paz. The bus ride in was intense, as the homes and buildings are built in the middle of a giant valley, with apartment buildings clinging to the sides of rocky cliffs!
We managed to make it in time for Easter, and were both pretty happy to find a few chocolate shops dedicated to the occasion. Along with giant easter eggs, there was an amazing chocolate bar with cocoa nibs and salt from the Salar de Uyuni, which I wish we could have brought home to share (but I ate it)!
We also managed to make it to La Paz in time for a week-long demonstration held by locals who were enraged by rising gas prices. Apparently Bolivia had subsidized gas prices for its residents, but due to illegal selling of gas to neighbouring countries to make a profit, the government stopped the subsidy. However, the government also froze utility costs and raised wages to counter this loss... So, basically the gas smugglers (and those with jobs requiring copious amounts of gas) were all protesting by setting up major road blocks and gathering in streets and squares to set off fire-crackers and dynamite until the wee hours of the morning. This caused some pretty interesting war dreams!
You can see the protesters heading toward us, below, as we were walking to the movie theatre.

Random horse statue... we didn't take many La Paz photos...
We stayed in the touristy area of town located next to the Witch Market. Ty found us a nice place for lunch over-looking the shoppers on the street below. A very popular item in the market that is carried at almost every stand is dried llama fetus, which, if buried under your new house, is to bring good luck... kinda gross. No, we didn't feel comfortable taking photos!
We were told, and later discovered for ourselves, that you will most likely get sick in Bolivia. With prior knowledge of this from friends who made the journey, we made careful food decisions, but still managed to get a nice bout of food poisoning in La Paz! Hence the lack of photos :) And Licky Skittles' impression of Lydia's face at the time... (blech!)
We still managed to find some nice wedding outfits, however, like this adorable dress for our little flower girl/God baby/neice, Elle-Belle!
And these are the two little Bolivian ladies who pieced together the wedding dress that Ty and I designed ourselves... pictures to come after the wedding!!
Although we found these two ladies to be quite friendly, the people of La Paz were generally quite rude towards us as foreigners. Shopkeepers don't really want to serve anyone but locals (even if you offered to pay more) and the taxi drivers really try to gyp you, too... But as long as you stay on your toes and try not to take things too personally, all is fine and dandy! Other parts of Bolivia are so amazingly beautiful (ie. the Salar de Uyuni, to come) that it makes up for the unfriendliness that is La Paz.

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