La Paz and Moon Valley

Having spent the majority of the past year in the countryside and wilderness, our first impressions of La Paz were a little overwhelming! The city is set in a kind of bowl surrounded by mountains. It’s impossible to get the size of it in one picture, so here are a few photos from the drive down to the city.

The traffic was like nothing I’d ever seen - it almost made Bangkok seem quiet! Although strangely, people don’t use their horns that often.

Before we got to the hotel, I’d decided that I was going to hate La Paz. It didn’t take long for me to be proven completely wrong though! I think my favourite thing about La Paz is the colours - everything is just so bright! Many of the women wear traditional dress which consists of a long skirt, a beautiful bag they carry on their backs (they also carry babies in these) and a hat which sits on top of their long hair which is in two plaits, often with material weaved in and tassles at the bottom.

The shop fronts are a spectacle in themselves.

One rather disturbing area is the Witches Market, where they sell llama foetuses. These are buried under new builds during construction as a sacrifice to Mother Earth and are said to bring good luck to the residents and builders. Skip past the next couple of photos if you’d rather not see (they’re at the top of the first photo, you won’t miss the one in the second).

La Paz is a bizarre place - the clock on the Bolivian Congress Building is the wrong way around for a start with the numbers in reverse order! During a food tour we went on, we were told an interesting theory as to why the clock is like that. At one point, the government was facing many accusations regarding stolen money, and so they decided that the whole of Bolivia should change all of their clocks so that the numbers were in reverse order - the idea being this would distract people from what was going on! I guess it’s the same as the UK with our fuel crisises, just a bit more extreme! Needless to say, it didn’t catch on, but the congress clock remains unchanged.

The food tour we went on was absolutely fantastic, we ate at six different places and visited stalls and restaurants that we would never have found on our own. In the photo below we were in a little shack in the middle of a market, all squished together on benches eating cheese empanadas with sugar on top (much tastier than they sound, I promise) with something that didn’t taste too dissimilar to mulled wine.

With the craziness of the streets of La Paz, it’s hard to believe that Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley) is just 30 minutes away - it really does look like another planet.

The formations are made mainly of clay and sandstone, but it feels like you’re in an outdoor cave at times.

We even saw a little bit of wildlife there.

La Paz was the place where we finished our Dragoman tour and the place we left to do our rainforest trip. My grand plan was to use the past three days we’ve had here taking ‘proper’ photos for the blog (rather than just the ones I took on my phone), but unfortunately my tummy had other plans! After a diagnosis of ‘I think it’s salmonella but take these parasite killers too just in case’, our last few days in South America have consisted of Sam being an excellent nurse to me. South America has been one of the most incredible places we’ve ever been to. I think it’s fair to say we’ve made some friends for life on this part of the trip. But I have to admit, I sure am looking forward to eating ‘normally’ again in America tomorrow!