We arrived late into La Paz after our all day trip from Puno. We only took a –couple- of photos of Puno as the town is basically a collection of little square brick buildings on the hillside around the lake.
Things are really inexpensive in Bolivia with about six Boliviaros to the Australian Dollar.
We started our day with a tour of the city and like most places, this seemed- to revolve around the buildings ijn the man square.Some rather sloppy military guards protected the government palace while-some- very tough looking policemen patrolled- the area around the fountain in the square. It was OK to take photos of the military guard, but we were warned of dire consequences if we photographed the policemen.
As we were listening to ur guide explain the history of the cathedral, there was a loud shriek and a bang as a vulture dive bombed one of the thousands of pigeon, hit the window of the cathedral and flew off with it in its talons. Judging by the number of- pigeons, La Paz could- do with a lot more vultures.
One one corner of- the square, was a building that was pock marked with holes from- small arms fire. Seven or eight years ago, the police held a strike over pay and conditions and the then President ordered the army to march against them and attack them. The result was a fierce gun battle in which 32 people died. The following outcry caused the government to accede to the police demands.The bullet holes are left as a reminder of this action.
We drove through a combination of poor and wealthy neighbourhoods and took in the view from one of te hilltops. The biggest problem in La Paz is that it is built on the steep hills of a number of river valleys and every wet season more of the city falls down the valley in a series of landslides.
La Paz is a very busy city. The traffic is horrendous. Most of the public transport seems to be conducted by a fleet of private mini buses, or vans. These drive along the street with someone leani8ng out the door, or window, shouting out the route or destination in Spanish. Old clapped out trucks belch black diesel fumes as they traverse the hills. I have no idea as to who gives way to whom – I think that as long as you have your nose in front of nearby cars, you just make your way to where you want to go. Traffic lights have little meaning and pedestrian crossings are simply lines painted on the road. At the moment, volunteers dressed in zebra suits have stern wo9rds with drivers who don’t stop at pedestrian crossings and others in donkey suits harass drivers who break other simple traffic rules.
The streets are busy with vendors (mostly women wearing bowler hats) selling everything from batteries to toilet paper. The pavements-are crowded and people have to step aside constantly to let others pass. There seems to be a lot more people on the streets than you would expect for a city with an official population of 1.2 million
We were still at a fairly high altitude (3,600 metres) and it is still hard to breathe. I even need to take a few deep breaths after rolling over in bed! Jill spent the afternoon relaxing at the hotel and I took a gentle, and very slow walk to the shops to buy a couple of thing that we needed. We finished the day off with a nice dinner in the restaurant.