~And let us pursue that most tempting of
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
La Paz, Bolivia – Carnival!
We had been on the bus from Salar de Uyuni to La Paz. It had been 16 hours and we were starving. We had completely forgotten to bring snacks on the bus which is important when travelling in Bolivia in case of delays which happen frequently. It was 12pm when we finally arrived to the beautiful city of La Paz, Bolivia. As Bryan went looking for a map of the city, I realized I had left our Bose headphones on the bus. I would have started crying if it weren’t for the fact they were pretty much almost broken…but still, it was sad.
La Paz is nestled in steep hills about 3600 meters (11,900 ft) high, and it is stunning. It just also happened to be Carnival weekend, so we were excited. The city is built in a valley, right into the mountainside. Buildings cling to the cliffs, looking like they’re going to slide down. It’s the world’s highest seat of government, and the altitude takes its toll. There’s hills everywhere and moving around can be troublesome, especially when Bryan had a cold.
We made it to Adventure Brew Hostel near the bus station, thank goodness. Comfortable beds, friendly people, and one complimentary beer a night made for one awesome hostel. After unpacking, I soon realized we had also left both our good, quality raincoats on the bus. This was a heartbreaking moment for me as that raincoat has been with me throughout all of our travelling. I can’t write about this anymore or I’ll start crying…so anyway. We’ve done a good job of hanging onto stuff in general. This one bus ride was not good.
We were pretty tired from the travel day, so we stayed in our hostel room, watched movies, and ordered pizza. Good times with my love.
Then it was time for carnival. We hadn’t really expected to do much this day because Bryan wasn’t feeling very good, but when people are throwing water balloons, buckets of water, and handing out free beer and shots from the balcony of your hostel, it’s hard not to participate.
Carnival is CRAZY. We watched the majority of the procession from the balcony of our hostel three stories above the street below. People lined the sides of the streets in chairs while a huge parade of colorful and not so colorful costumes passed below us. Kids ran around with squirt guns and vendors were selling cans of soap-foam. The entire crowd was drenched with water and foam. Most everyone, especially kids, carrried the foamy soap spray can and used it whenever they felt necessary. Bryan and I got sprayed with this stuff multiple times, including my camera. By the way, my camera has been through a lot lately, and I can only hope it will make it home.
The hostelers threw water balloons off the top onto the crowd below and at one point the hostel staff started throwing entire pitchers of beer over the edge of the balcony. It was crazy.
The rest of the night was spent on the balcony eating, playing cards, drinking, throwing waterballons, and someone may have ended up dancing on the bar. For the record, the bartender was quite toasty himself and told this certain someone and three others that it was the necessary thing to do.
We went to bed shortly after that.
Carnival was going on all weekend in La Paz, and as a result, we were foamy all weekend. The main street near our hostel was packed with graffiti, parades, beer, street food, and costumes. It was hard to get from point A to B sometimes but it was worth it.
After being in high altitude for so long, we were pretty much used to it by the time we arrived in La Paz. However, you still feel like an old person trying to walk up stairs or hills. I literally had to stop 10 times when going up to the balcony in our hostel because I was out of breath. Let me tell you, it is not easy living high. I will never take for granted living at sea level ever again.
The rest of our time in La Paz was spent exploring the stunning city and buying Bryan an awesome North Face jacket. It was the real thing (this was a shock coming from S.E. Asia) and so much cheaper than at home, and I still can’t figure out why.
Fortunately, cheap ponchos were for sale for those who didn’t want to get their clothes wet, so we purchased a half dozen of these for later use. We then walked the streets with them, which seemed like a good idea. Turns out, wearing a poncho is almost the exact same thing as putting a bulls eye on your face. I got hit in the face with so many soap-foam containers that I counted it as a face-washing.
We ended only staying in La Paz for a couple days, but I kind of wish we would have staying longer. However, we were really looking forward to Copacabana on Lake Titicaca. Okay, we weren’t really looking forward to Copacabana but those two places just go so well together. Next stop, La Isla Del Sol, the island on Lake Titicaca with a stopover in Copacabana.