I had a visit to the Mercado Central this morning to grab a saltena (a kind of an empanada with meat or chicken, gravy and potatoes inside) and to see the market on a working day. I had been there on Saturday but it was a sad affair then, with the odd Quechua farmer selling a handful of raggedy beets. Today was a much more lively affair, as a lot of folks from the outskirts come into town on a Monday to get shopping, bank business etc done, and the market was in full swing. Still can't quite get over the heaps of unrefrigerated beef and chicken being sold, but I guess that's what you get when you're ordering beef at $3 a kilo (!).
I am off to Potosi shortly, which amongst other things is the highest city of its size in the world at an average of 4000m or 13100ft. The Irazoque family kindly furnished me with some altitude pills, and I think my mate de coca consumption rate will skyrocket there. In Potosi it will definitely be a case of slow and steady wins the race.
These are just from this afternoon. More to come tomorrow. What a charming little city.
Side note: even wi-fi in the hotel is utterly useless, like 128K. No chance of uploading any of the copious video I have taken. Didn’t realise how rubbish the internet would be here.
Today I am finally departing La Paz, which has been my base for almost 2 weeks now, to head off on my own for the final 4(ish) weeks of my South American adventure. I can't thank Shane and Eiza enough for inviting me to come stay, and of course Eiza's family for hosting us with such a warm welcome. I ate well, and had as good a Christmas away from my own family as could have been wished. So I have a mix of emotions: happiness that I am finally setting off on my own (the way I travel best) and a touch of sadness that the "friends" portion of the trip has come to a close. Ah well, I never have too much trouble making new friends on the road.
Looking back, I haven't done much "tourism" in La Paz at all but I have no doubt I have had a more meaningful, fulfilling time here than many of the backpackers who never leave the gringo quarter in the centre. There are still one or two things I would have liked to have done and seen (ergo the Valley of the Moon and the bike ride down the Death Road) but there's always next time. I am not sure whether or not I will pass back through here on the way to Peru. Time will tell.
So I am shortly to board a flight to Sucre, which is heralded as a beautiful colonial city with oodles of charm. In that spirit, and anticipating the rigours of the near future in my mooted tour of the salt flats of Uyuni, I have decided to treat myself a bit and spring for the Hotel Independencia
in Sucre, which has a great reputation as a real class act with bags of character. Why not, eh?
I realise also that I have been remiss in keeping my map up to date. Here's the updated version. I love how Google Maps has 3 different cities called La Paz visible in its map. Ooops.