We leave Uyuni for La Paz at approximately 19.30. The distance is 790 km and it will take at least 10 hours. I am quite surprised to find the bus in tip-top shape. We even had a male “steward” who dished out spaghetti with a bottle of mineral water at the speed of lightning only to make himself a bed at the back of the bus in a mad rush. He disappeared but did collect the empty spaghetti bowls later.
The first part of the journey was rough as the new highway is still in progress. If I had to describe the bus movement, I would say it felt like “shake-shake, crunch-crunch, swish-swish and screech-screech. The wind blew extensively but huge air disturbances were also caused by other large VERY fast-moving vehicles or busses passing us. Bang, bang, bang! Swish, swish! I thought I even saw snow when peeping through the window in a sleepless state. Yes no sleep for me! Wonder above wonder the grey and misty shapes of buildings, hugging the slopes of the hills surrounding La Paz, welcomed us. It was overcast, cold and too early for the sun to welcome us.
Upon our arrival to La Paz bus station at 05.30 our guide was a bit taken aback with our early arrival. We were however successfully transferred to our centrally situated hotel, Hotel El Dorado where we were able to check into our rooms at 7.00. A relief after the heavy night. A leisurely bath in an ancient yellowed bath, some urgent clothes washing and unwanted admin, brought us to lunch and a tour of Nuestra Senora de La Paz, Our Lady of the Peace as La Paz used to be called. The first glimpse of La Paz will take your breath away. The city’s buildings cling to the sides of the canyon and spill spectacularly downwards. Some buildings are completed and others not, some are painted in blues, yellow and red but overall the buildings were left a brick and mortar colour.
We visited the Main Square or Plaza Murillo, San Francisco Church, the Witches’ Market and the Killi Killi Watchtower. The Colonial architecture is beautiful but unfortunately it is expensive to look after these old buildings. It is cheaper to demolish them. A sure pity! We also made an appearance at the Valley of the Moon, which, as the name suggests, is a lunar landscape with amazing geological shapes.
La Paz is the highest capital city in the world at 4061 m above sea level. The government has recently installed an aerial cable car system called “My Cable Car” to alleviate the traffic from the hilly outskirts to the center and believe you me, traffic is a thriller. Currently three lines are in operation, and six more lines are in the planning stage. We return to La Paz where we spend the night.
Tomorrow we will board a regular bus for Copacabana, Island of the Sun.
The history of the people of Bolivia, that is the pre Incas, the Incas, the Spaniards and the Aymara people, is extremely complicated but fascinating.
See you in Copacabana!