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Being Surprised by the Battle of the Capitals

Our time in La Paz and Sucre. Both amazing cities that are stunningly different.


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Our first day in La Paz and I could barely move. I sent Lewis out with the boys to attempt the death road. After giving one of the boys a warning that if Lewis died or was severely injured that they shouldn’t come back either. Haha. I instead spent the day taking charcoal and hoping I would feel better shortly.

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The next day we were off on a walking tour with Urban Adventure, our guide Juan was full of information and we learnt a lot. We started in the main square where we got to see the changing of the guard, the cathedral and the parliament buildings. He explained the the religious centre of Bolivia is actually Copacabana as that was where a temple was for the Incas and the famous Madonna is there. People do a pilgrimage walk from La Paz every Easter and they take there cars to be blessed there. The cathedral was beautiful. Bolivia currently has an indigenous president for the first time and because of this there are a lot of changes happening. He has changed the constitution. The country now has two flags..the one we all know and the rainbow squares of the indigenous. You will also see a third flag everywhere with stars for all of the states and then one star alone. The flag is in regard to Bolivia wanting access to the Pacific Ocean again and wanting that land that was won by Chile in a war over 100 years ago. Hopefully this happens for them as Bolivia is actually a pretty amazing country.
We also saw the backwards clock as it was related to their north and south and was about people seeing things differently in the city. We continued on stopping to get a Bolivian Saltena (empanada). Interestingly Bolivian empanadas have a sweet crust which gives it an interesting taste with the spicy meat. We were off to see the famous San Pedro Prison next.

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The prison has a hierarchy system with some of the prisoners living in lavish apartments with their families inside. The prison was built there as it was originally the lower class area of La Paz. It is a low security prison and basically depending on how much money you have is how lavishly you live. They even have festivals and shops in the prison! There are talks of not letting the families live in the prison and changing it’s location due to safety and security problems. You can see repairs in the walls where prisoners have dug themselves out. There is a book called Marching Powder which is apparently a good read about the systems inside.

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We continued on going through the witches market and food market. The market was huge on Saturday with produce of nearly every type. Juan explained you have a loyalty and always go to the same vendor. We also saw that the ladies from the country wore a different skirt (shorter) than the women from the city. Both were elaborate and they all seemed to wear a traditional hat. The outfits were stunning and I hope they continue to wear them.
The witches market was interesting with llama foetuses everywhere. They are all natural abortions we were told and are used for gifts for the gods along with numerous sugar symbols in regards for what you are asking for. There is usually a sugar frog as this is good luck in Bolivia. They burn the gifts for the goods. We also saw another god that they give smokes to again symbols of what they want. He looks pretty comical.

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After this we jumped on Bolivia's version of a chicken bus. They have old US school buses as there local buses through the city. We were off to another city, or another part of La Paz called El Alto. It is up on the highland and is near the airport. This area is a lot more local and authentic. We again walked through the markets and saw all of the shamans with people waiting outside to get their fortunes.

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We took the cablecars down, there are currently three cablecars running in La Paz but they are planning for six in total. It is a way of getting the people up in the hills down into the city for work etc. It is a great initiative and was really pretty to see the city as we went down. Along the way we saw a car stuck in a crevice that had crashed and they had never been able to get it out. We arrived back into the city just in time to watch the All Blacks smash France. So far Bolivia has surprised us. They have stalls for tourists everywhere but they don’t annoy you as much as we have been dealing with in Peru. It is refreshing and a nice surprise.

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While in La Paz we found a little shop called Tia Gladys. Gladys is a lovely little old lady that appears to adopt travellers. Beside the adopting she also makes a fantastic sandwich, cakes and milkshakes (we tried a variety of all of these) at a great price. It is worth a stop if you are in the area just for the friendly homely feeling. We also found a Vietnamese restaurant that made an epic spring roll. This is a great change from authentic food. Lewis and I both couldn't remember the last time we had Asian cuisine which is available in copious amounts at home.

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We headed to our next stop in Bolivia, Sucre via overnight bus. It was a bit of a luxurious adventure as we had a full cama seat which meant that it reclined to 180 degrees. The adventure part came from the bus breaking down for a couple of hours in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. We finally arrived in Sucre and found our hostel two hours later than planned. It was cute and just what we needed. As we couldn't check in it we were off to check out the white town. The place was cute and it had a much more relaxed vibe than La Paz. I was impressed!

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Most of our time in Sucre was spent relaxing but I did convince Lewis to come and see the dinosaur footprints. We took the public bus up to the cement factory and found the park. We had arrived for noon when they do at tour and you can go down into the quarry to view the prints. After going through the giant dinosaur figures we discovered which had made the footprints and how the plate movements had made them vertical. We walked down and had the footprints right there!

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Our guide JC brought out the little figures and rapped a bit to keep us entertained. I was pretty impressed with the prints.
We were given a full on thunderstorm for most nights! The sky lit up and it was stunning.

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We also hiked up to the lookout that showed the whole city at sunset. It was pretty but sadly it wasn't the best sunset we had seen.
While in Sucre we discovered the vegetarian lasagne at Condor Cafe. It was delicious!We also had fresh pasta at closed restaurant an Italian had set up in his lounge and had the famous saltenas from Patio Cafe. The saltenas weren't our favourite as they were sweet in the filling and pastry. We are hoping that changes a bit in Argentina.

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We left on an early morning bus the next day ready for our next adventure to Uyuni and through the salt flats.
The cities of La Paz and Sucre are contrasting in many ways. Sucre is calmer and cleaner with it's pretty white buildings. La Paz is more chaotic and more dirtier. Both have their merits and I would recommend visiting both to see a couple of sides of Bolivia. Bolivia has been a welcomed change. The people don't hassle you and it has seemed a lot more safer than we expected. I would definitely put it on your itinerary and I can't wait to go back.

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Posted by chellebelle 16:12 Archived in Bolivia Tagged sunset views llama bolivia la_paz condor thunder sucre mirador dinosaur_footprints tia_gladys witchmarket urban_adventure Comments (0)

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