Posted by: jimndianne | January 1, 2010

La Paz – Christmas Day

25 December 2009 – La Paz, Bolivia

We were late rising, which seemed fair enough as we did have a fairly late night! A solid breakfast was in order and off we went to explore the downtown of La Paz. First stop was one of the main La Paz squares, Murillo. The scene was very interesting as the Bolivian authorities had bussed in many indigenous families from Potosi, who were there to raise some money from basic goods they had been given to sell i.e. chewing gum, sweets etc. The scene in this square was extraordinary with all different vendors there ranging from candy floss (that great stack of pink stuff on a pole), ice creams to fabrics, etc.  Also there were the shoe shine guys who along with the street sweepers, wear masks as they are embarrassed about the work they do and don’t want to be



recognised. The ice-cream seemed to be a stiff cream rather than that which we would be used to. This scene also gave us a real introduction to the cholita women from the Aymara cultural group of highlanders and descendants of the Tiahuanaco empire, who live in town and wear  traditional dress as well as these derby hats.


How they keep them on is a real puzzle! Rumour has it that around 1920 an Englishman arrived in La Paz with a whole stack of these hats expecting to sell them to the local males. The men didn’t like them so he put them in a woman’s hat shop and they sold like hot cakes. It is a great balancing act as they seem far too small for the size of their heads! The women look a lot bigger than they are as they are wearing up to five petticoats.

From there we drove around looking at some well preserved buildings and some amazing views up the narrow streets.



One particular narrow street was for pedestrians only and contained some of the oldest buildings in La Paz. The picture on the right has Gert pretending to be a local.



Climbing back up to the ‘rim of the crater’ and looking back down at the city never fails to make you gasp as the city looks so far away. This is ‘you know who’ below with Gaby and Gert. We are at 4050 metres here and doing anything in the way of climbing makes you puff. We are gradually getting used to the altitude and because we were  up in the mountains of Ecuador for a number of weeks we have acclimatised to this new altitude reasonably well.




The photo on the right is taken from the same spot and is of a cemetery. Looks more like factories at this distance but is in fact lots of multi coloured crypts. We will attempt to get a closer shot of a typical one at some time. From here we went down to a park which displayed many faces of men who had disappeared over the years and had never been seen since. At the same park were a group of the indigenous families that had come to La Paz and were waiting for their Christmas food hand-out.


This finished our downtown tour which had proved to be very interesting. Weather was fine all day and sat at 17 – 23 C most of the time. There is a difference of 10deg C generally between the city and up at the top where the above views were taken.

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