A Little About La Paz, Bolivia

29 Jan

Best Cafe in La Paz

Our bus trip to La Paz was relatively uneventful following the previously mentioned incidents with The Bear and the David Suzuki doppleganger, but there was one thing that happened.

Our bus pulled over at a little town by the lake. The driver addressed the passengers in rapid Spanish and the only part any of us caught was “15 minutes”. From this we deduced we had 15 minutes if we needed to use the washroom, buy snacks or wanted to walk around. We had all been sleeping and none of us felt like getting off the bus. Moments later, we realized we were the only people on the bus and we were in the middle of Lake Titicaca on barge that consisted of nothing more than a few 2’x4’s nailed together while our fellow passengers were boarding a ferry to cross the lake. Lesson learned: when the instructions are in a foreign language and everyone else is doing something different than what you’re doing, get off the bus.

We arrived at the bus station in La Paz in the late afternoon and the hostel Tal had booked was only a few blocks away so we decided to walk there. We immediately learned that drivers of vehicles in La Paz have a complete disregard for pedestrians, and for other vehicles for that matter.

After escaping death on a few occasions we checked in to The Adventure Brew Hostel where we were assigned to our 8-bed dorm, told that each night we stayed there we’d be given a free beer, that there was a Rubix cube party taking place that night and that we could try to book a time for a beer spa, which is basically a warm bucket of beer you back your butt into and let your arms and legs hang out. Unfortunately they didn’t have any open time slots and we hadn’t booked a beer spa in advance, but I thought it was worth mentioning. We opted for the Rubix cube party instead which is a theme party where you wear an article of clothing of each colour found on a Rubix cube and you exchange clothing with other people until you’re successfully decked out in only one colour. Because we didn’t know about the theme in advance, we basically went for the cheap cocktails which consisted of: our free beer, a free shot and 2 mixed drinks for 15/BS (the equivalent to $1.50 or $2.00 CDN – the only place I know of in Toronto that can compete with those prices is a hidden gem on The Danforth: The Lindsmore Tavern).

But first thing was first: dinner. We decided to try a place called Oliver’s Travels which is rates as the 5th best restaurant in Lap Paz (they wouldn’t tell us what the other 4 were) and is described by Lonely Planet as “the least cultural experience in La Paz”. It might not have been a culturally relevant dining experience to La Paz but it was an amazing taste of the pubs back home. (Finally, familiar food that didn’t have Tal and I running for a bathroom – we’ve alternated having this problem since leaving Canada.)

Back at our hostel it was time to join the party. We met a number of interesting characters that night:
– An Aussie girl that talked Tal and I into wanting to do the bike ride down Death Road
– A newlywed Scottish couple that told us all about the Bolivian Salt Flats and also enlightened us that The Trailer Park Boys have a pretty serious cult following in Scotland (he loved us when he found out we were Canadian, like The Trailer Park Boys)

We also learned that smoking is allowed in the bars – I felt like I was 16 in Hull and wore my bar clothes around town the whole next day as we ran errands hoping to air them out. The errands we ran that day consisted of getting information about the Salt Flats tours in Uyuni (our next destination after La Paz) and learning more about The Death Road ride just outside of La Paz which consists of mountain biking down the world’s most dangerous road.

Note: If you’re thinking of following suit and giving Death Road a go, I strongly recommend the company Gravity. Despite the cost being double that of other companies (approximately $100 CDN), they are internationally recognized in terms of their safety standards. On an excursion called Death Road Ride, best not to skimp on safety.

At the end of the day we had decided to wait and book our Salt Flats tour in Uyuni and we had signed ourselves up for a ride down Death Road the following day.

That night, in anticipation of the following day’s excursion, I drifted in and out of uneasy dreams about how I would spend the last day of my life.

Spoiler Alert: we all survived the Death Road ride.

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