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La Paz

Our 100th Blog Post & The Highest Capital City In The World!!

sunny 5 °C

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La Paz... Bolivia's capital city and the highest capital city in the world. Not really sure where they measure that from because if you look at the title pic you can easily tell that La Paz sits in a river valley. This gives the city an amazingly unique look from both up top and down in the valley, but makes it a hell of a place to huff around with the inclines and high altitude. A casual stroll around the city can leave you breathless within a few blocks... and we were somewhat acclimatized. Technically speaking, because of La Paz's height (3650 M) the city also features the highest skyscrapers in the world (take that stupid ass Dubai and your bullshit Canadian VISA requirements... no one wants to come to your crappy desert anyways... ya I'm bitter still lol).

From Coroico we took another mini-bus back to La Paz only this time we were a little more careful of our choice of vehicle lol. This time things worked out fine but it was still interesting to be in a van struggling to make it back up that tremendous incline. We did however arrive safe and sound and hailed a taxi at the bus stop.

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We had pre-booked our hostel ahead of time (you see the joys of WIFI can pay off in many ways) so needn't worry about lugging our packs around in the high altitude trying to sort out a place to sleep. The area we chose was right in the heart of things and we quickly found ourselves a great Thai lunch deal...

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We both still love our Asian food! Like I said our area was right in the heart of it all. This included the usual array of bars, restaurants and market stalls, but this time it featured something just a little unusual... a witches market.

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The witch market stalls featured all sorts of weird shit... candles, voodoo dolls, effigies, and even llama fetus' (apparently these are considered good luck and if you ever build a new home your supposed to bless your house by burying one underneath your porch... we so should have bought one but like come on! How the hell would you explain that one to customs lol).

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The market stalls in La Paz were amazing!! Trust us... we know our deals and La Paz was just full of 'em. Alpaca gear was dirt cheap and there was no shortage of wicked jewellery either (all because of that cheap Potosi ore I suppose).

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Our hotel was situated only about 3 blocks downhill from the main plaza and Cathedral...

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For our second day in town we decided to check out the rest of the downtown strip which is essentially one main drag that runs along the bottom of the valley...

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A quick rest stop (believe it or not I caught another bad cold and fever less then a week after my salt flat experience.... my immune system is at an all time low because of this trip).

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At the end of our downtown tour was a quick stop at San Pedro Plaza. San Pedro Plaza sits directly beside the notorious San Pedro prison and after hearing some of the stories we couldn't resist seeing it with our own eyes. You see San Pedro prison is like no other prison on the planet. Inside are no guards and basically the prisoners run the show. If you don't believe me Google it. You used to be able to take tours of the inside but apparently because Brad Pitt showed up with some film crew trying to research/make a movie it is now shut down. Not sure if I would have had the balls to do it anyways. Inside are coke laboratories (this is where most of the prisoners source of income comes from), regular stores, a hotel for visitors, and even Coca Cola has the rights to exclusively sell its products in exchange for a plethora of chairs, tables and umbrellas. Even certain prisoners cells are arranged on a class basis (the wealthy prisoners can buy suites that have all amenities like a kitchen, bathroom and even internet or cable TV). We hung out in the Plaza for a while and watched family members line up for their daily visits (how do they get the drugs out? Hmmm....).

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View of the plaza beside the prison...

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Best street ever!!!

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Best truck ever!!!

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Our walk back to our hotel...

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We also made a brief stop at the local Coca/Cocaine Museum. Pretty interesting stuff but we weren't allowed to take any pictures. It dealt a lot with how it was traditionally used (leaf chewing mainly) until it was discovered that it could be a useful anesthetic. And yes the legend is true!! Coca Cola actually was first created with Cocaine in it mainly because at the time alcohol prohibition was taking place and people were looking for alternative stimulative drinks. The museum also gave a pretty good outlook into how pharmaceutical companies basically have free reign to manufacture legal cocaine (Novocain, Lidocaine, Xylocaine etc etc) while Bolivia is granted no such privileges and instead is constantly being pressured by the US to support it's war on drugs. Typical... attack the poor farmers cause their the problem and not the actual drug addicts themselves. Gotta love capitalism sometimes... I f@#king hate pharmaceutical companies.

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To finish off our trip to Bolivia's capital we decided to take in its party scene which it is actually pretty renowned for. To set the party train in motion we decided to take in an event that is probably featured no where else in the world... but more on this in a bit. Here are some of La Paz's spectacular views from up on the ridge. Valley, city and mountain peaks...

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Pretty unique city landscape huh? Ok so the 'party train' lol, well its first stop was at what is called Cholitas Wrestling which takes place every Sunday in a local gymnasium.

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Technically "Cholita" is a word for a Hispanic women who dresses a certain ghetto way (a Cholo is a Hispanic male who dresses in Khaki long shorts with white socks, flannel shirt and maybe a bandana... my description is very general and vague... Wikipedia it). In Bolivia wrestling terms it refers to the stereotypical Bolivian women's attire which is sported in the wrestling ring.... as they're taking on male opponents lol.

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There was male versus male wrestling also...

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And it wasn't all that bad. Pretty entertaining in fact. But the men beating on the poor Cholitas! My God lol. It was funny yes but still you just couldn't believe what you were seeing...

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Those poor little Cholitas lol. Of course it was fake and rigged and you just had to cheer for the Cholita (who would end up winning of course). The match would contain all the elements of good wrestling though: one sided referee (how would often stomp the Cholita when she was down to stir up the crowd, crowd taunting, and even the occasional chair to the head).

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And the costumes were great... cheesy but great lol.

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This little Cholita even got tossed into the foreigner section after she was dosed with a 2L pop bottle lol...

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Needless to say the whole event was quite the experience and one I'm glad we got to see lol. Just what I needed to lift my spirits... we were basically laughing our asses off the entire time!

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To end off the the night, half-way through a match a guy dressed as a mummy runs out of the back of the gymnasium wiping a chain around, flipping over all the barricades and scarring all the little kids in attendance... and that's literally how it all ended. Pretty fricking sweet!

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The rest of the night is censored and I'll just leave it at that. La Paz was awesome and I would recommend a stopover there to anyone! Great shopping, cheap delicious eats and even better entertainment and nightlife. Stay tuned cause next up is our stop at the highest navigable lake in the world... Lake Titicaca. Ciao.

Posted by ttbwarren 16:32 Archived in Bolivia

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