La Paz (where we were last week for about five days) is curious mix of entertainment and fun with a dark, impenetrable undertone to it. The city gathers South America’s backpackers in its arms and doesn’t let them go easily – if you don’t have an exit plan when you arrive in La Paz, it’s likely that you’ll stay longer than originally planned.
We were some of those travellers, naively thinking that we’d spend two days there before crossing over to Peru. How wrong we were. The first two days consisted of recovering from our Salar de Uyuni trip and a third day was to recover from a night of 3-for-2 mojitos at an English-style pub. That was when we realised we needed to stay longer in order to see a bit more of the city, so naturally we checked ourselves in to La Paz’s most renowned party hostel – the Irish-run Wild Rover
Did we see much of the city? No. But we did meet some very cool people and had lots of fun. We met an energetic 58-year old woman from the Gold Coast who wasn’t shy in letting the bar know what she thought of the football players on the TV: “Aw, stop whinging and get up ya bloody sheilas!” And we were treated to a lively karaoke rendition of Proud Mary (Creedence Clearwater Revival) by a new Irish friend. There was music, there were shots, and there were boobs on the bar (not mine, just so we’re clear).
The two days went by in a blur so it shouldn’t come as a shock that we really did not see much of the city except for:
- The Witches Markets – where women sell strange love potions and dried llama fetuses
- The Coca Museum – in informative journey through the history of coca-growing in Bolivia and subsequently its evolution to becoming cocaine. (Apparently Coca-Cola is still a large buyer of Bolivia’s coca but uses it for flavour only)
The rest of our time was spent catching up on sleep, meandering through the steep market-filled lanes of the city and sipping on the excellent smoothies at 100% Natural. My only conclusion of La Paz in the five short days we were there is that this fiery city unquestionably possesses a cryptic, secretive spirit – one that will take another visit in order to decipher.