La Paz...Culture Shock

La Paz Travel Blog

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Crazy driving and honking horns was the way of the city!

Arriving into La Paz was a shock, other than the altitude. Actually, since I'm from Denver the altitude really didn't bother me so much. That was the only thing that seemed normal from the moment I arrived!

Since my flight arrived at the butt-crack of dawn (5:30 am) it was still relatively dark as my taxi made the way into the city. After a quick nap at the hostal the adventure began. I have never heard so much horn honking in my entire life, yet never saw anyone angry. It seems to be more of a courtesy to continually honk a horn while driving whether someone is in the way, you are turning or you are just bored!

You always hear about Tiajuana taxi drivers, but they don't have a thing on La Paz drivers! Road signs, stop signs and red lights mean absolutely nothing in the city.

The women carry everything in these blankets, from babies to food.
The horn is the indicator that you are going whether you have the right of way or not. Pedestrians must be fast or you will get hit! After 3 different clips from taxis (by the mirror) I got the rhythm down and was finally able to cross the street without becoming a fatality, though there were many, many close calls. Also the lanes were completely ignored as drivers drive on both the right hand and left hand side of the street!

La Paz was truly the noisiest place I had ever been in my life, but it was so exciting.

Unfortunately, pictures were rather limited as the locals do NOT like having their pictures taken.

Finding my way through the streets towards the vendors and markets was insane. I don't know how many times I got lost today. I kept thinking I knew where I was...man, was I wrong. But, when all else failed I would hail a taxi, give them the card from my hostal and zip...I was right at the door.

I had decided when I arrived that I just wasn't going to baby myself and not drink the water or food from the vendors. I am so happy I did. I found the market with many food vendors inside and was immediately swarmed by the women in each kitchen, trying to get me to buy from each of them. I felt so horrible when I could only buy from one, that I bought a pop from one lady, salad from another, rice and potatoes from yet another, then my charizzo from another. They seemed to appreciate the effort and I didn't haggle over prices. The food was AMAZING! Every bite of every dish was so tasty and unique that I cannot even describe the flavors. With that said, I never once got sick from eating and drinking as the locals did. I am so glad I made the decision, or I would have missed a very important (and tasty) part of the trip!!!

I noticed so many people watching me and didn't understand, other than I am obviously not a native, then I realized they were not used to seeing a woman that is over 6 feet tall. How funny!

I was exhausted, but didn't want to retire early as I might miss something. So, I wandered the town until well after dark, soaking in the atmosphere, buying a small child an ice cream and watching the local people head to the plaza at the church to talk, let the children play and eat. I bought more street food and again, have no words for how delicious it was.

Here I was, in what Americans would consider a dangerous area, where I didn't speak the language and didn't know anyone and I actually felt safer than I have in years. My Spanish comprehension is absolutely horrible, yet my speaking skills aren't half bad once I figure out what people are talking about. By trying so hard, the people were very gracious and tried to help me as much as possible. This usually resulted in nothing more than laughter from both of us, but it was so fun to try.

Little did I know that this was just the beginning of what would be the most amazing trip of my life.

So, with fatigue hitting, I finally headed back to the hostal and crashed. What a first day....

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Crazy driving and honking horns wa…
Crazy driving and honking horns w…
The women carry everything in thes…
The women carry everything in the…
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La Paz
photo by: wilfredoc2009