Sucre airport. Took this from wheelchair. Dr checking out forms on left.
L picks me up with a taxi driver who lives in the same â€śhouseâ€ť as her at around 8:45. Trip to the airport, about 20 minutes is BOB25, AUD3.60. The ticket allocator was very helpful and I got a seat at the front of economy, left aisle. I had to see the doctor who asked me for information and filled in a form for me. He has to satisfy himself that Iâ€™m fit to fly. I said goodbye to L and explained to her that itâ€™s the same in Oz. The airline obviously realizes that it has an obligation to see that I arrive in one piece at the other end. Then I am wheeled in a wheelchair to the bottom of the embarkation steps. I walked up the stairs slowly, but with no problems, with the doctor right behind me to make sure that I didnâ€™t fall, and kindly telling me to go more slowly.
It was a little confusing as the travel agent had booked economy, so I was under the impression that there was no business class.
There was an empty seat in business class which would have been more comfortable and both the doctor and two flight attendants argued with the guy in charge, but he wouldnâ€™t let me sit there. It reminded me of the visit to the supermarket; ah the contradictions of Bolivia. Anyway I had the best possible seat in economy for my leg and my right foot was in business class, even if the rest of me was in economy. Moreover we took off at around 10:45 and by 11:10 were descending into La Paz, so it was a breeze and I didnâ€™t even have time to be bored.
La Paz airport
After we land I wait for everyone to leave. A steward takes my two bags (both small) and I go slowly down the steps. It was funny, I was just expecting to walk across the tarmac, but then I looked up and that ubiquitous wheelchair was waiting for me at the bottom of the steps.
I am wheeled into the baggage area and asked if I have any luggageâ€¦ah Judith..all those years of equipaje and maletas. This is a breeze. I also explain that there should be someone waiting for me and the man goes and checks and yes thereâ€™s a man with my name in large letters, heâ€™s the driver from the hotel. So I describe my maleta, verde, 27kilos. He gets it and I see the driver with his big sign. I think heâ€™s a little surprised to see me being wheeled out, but then so am I. He quickly regains his composure. Am I solo? Yes. I am then wheeled to the car by the airport helper; talk about door to door service.
The driver, Victor, is very nice.
The airport is in El Alto, a place Iâ€™ve been told not to visit; well apart from flying into La Paz, not much choice there. He tells me there is a mirador ie lookout. Would I like to stop and take some pictures? Yes, love to. He offers me his arm and we walk up from the road to take the pics of La Paz from el mirador. He then suggests that he take a photo of me with La Paz as the backdrop.
Me,La Paz. Illimani, Bolivia's second highest mountain, in background
We arrive at the Hotel Rosario (TelĂ©fono: 591-2-245-1658 www.hotelrosario.com Double bed, private bathroom.
US$52 pn including American breakfast) at around 12:15. My room isnâ€™t ready and there are many people waiting for rooms. After the solitude of Hotel Premier itâ€™s a bit of a shock. The guy on reception is really helpful and when he sees my leg he tells me he will give me a room on the first floor. I hadnâ€™t thought of that, most hotels donâ€™t have lifts and Iâ€™m saved from having to go up and down several flights of stairs every time I want to go somewhere.
Room, Hotel Rosario
I havenâ€™t been watching F1 since I went away, but recently noticed that Mark Webber has done well in the last two races. The qualifying is on at 1 pm so I â€śwatchâ€ť it on the puter, after connecting to the wifi in the dining room where I have lunch. Iâ€™m quickly finding out that thereâ€™s wifi and thereâ€™s wifi. Itâ€™s faster here than it was in Sucre.
Iâ€™m then shown to my room and afterwards go for a walk down the street.
Street scene, La Paz
Iâ€™d got used to walking around Sucre but itâ€™s harder here in La Paz. The main streets are wider and harder to shuffle across, and thereâ€™s more two way traffic. Iâ€™ve given up thinking about the fact that, supposedly, the traffic drives on the opposite side of the road from Oz. In Bolivia they drive where it suits them, so itâ€™s best to realize that, and not have unrealistic expectations. There seem to be less police and fewer traffic lights than in Sucre, although theyâ€™re probably needed more. I realize that if I walk too far down the hill, it will be a long way back, so I donâ€™t go too far. It is Saturday and the street is full of women selling mainly fruit and veggies. There are also lolly and drink stalls, nut stalls, egg stalls and a few meat or fish stalls.
Of course, there is no refrigeration; you need a Bolivian belly to buy produce from some of the stalls. The fruit and veg stalls are nearly always tended by women wearing traditional dress, many in bowler hats. They often tend young babies or children. Only occasionally are there men helping. I notice that there are no Bolivian flags, whereas they were everywhere in Sucre.
Saturday market, La Paz
I have dinner in the restaurant, which is a vast improvement on Hotel Premier, but then the prices are much more. I remember to ask for sin sal, without salt. Trout fillet from Lake Titicaca BOB49, AUD7.20 includes potato au gratin, veggies and salads, 350ml Sprite BOB7, AUD1 Glass red wine BOB12, AUD1.72 I retire to my room, watch a film on cable, do the blog.
I leave the heater on high and sleep for at least 9 hours, making up for some of the sleep I lost in Sucre. I like the room, it is off a courtyard. Initial impressions of Hotel Rosario; very good.
La Paz Hotels & Accommodations review
Great hotel in La Paz, Hotel Rosario
Helpful staff, free wifi in room, great meals in restaurant. Close to Witches Market. Very popular, so is definitely better to book.