Harry Potter and the Gastrointestinal Infection
La Paz Travel Blog› entry 8 of 16 › view all entries
aLa Paz is a city of vast beauty and culture, unlike any other ' (airalaska, 2010). ' La Paz is a f****** dirty s***hole and I never want to f****** go back there, I hope it gets bombed ' (Kevin Pope, 2010). Rooted in substantiated argument and articulated akin to Shakespeare, I think it is fair to assume that Pope's quote initimates that he would rather not re-visit the Bolivian capital. Picking up from where left off, we grabbed a cab to Wild Rover (voted the best hostel in South America in 2009) and were immediately befriended a Alex from the states, and Kathryn and Anna from Quebec. Despite La Paz being very compact in its geography, the altitude turns a short walk into a VO2 Max Test, and we quickly regretted choosing to walk to the nationally famous Witches Market - none more so than Kev, who could barely utter his name by the time we got there. Being a natural in the market environment, Kev effortlessley negotiated 10 Bolivianos off for some fake Ray-Bans whilst I immediately got ripped off for a bottle of water and necklace, amidst telling the lady exactly what I thought of her. Things hadn't gone quite as planned in the laundry effort after recovering from food posioning, and short of underwear, I was on the hunt for some replacement garments. Just when all looked lost, I stumbled upon a female lingerie stall that also retailed boxer shorts and purchased (for an extortionate price of $7.50) some Geovin Kelvin's. The fashion conscious amongst you are probably suspecting that they may be fakes, however Kelly Bryan, I can inform you that they are actually the premium end of Calvin Klein's range and that I am the new body of Geovin Kelvin. Guess which d***head didn't check what size they were though - what do you mean I can't get them on because they're XXL?
That night we went to Mongos (which I would recommend) and after I had discussed the merits of being english with a Bolivian and lost the chance to discuss the merits with a Chilean, Anna got far too drunk and we had to go home. This was not before Comedy Kev had decided he was going to shout 'she's f****** horrendous' in Bolivia's ear whilst I was conversing with her, not realising that she had been educated at an American school in nearby Santa Cruz. It was made all the more awkward by the fact that she was pretty much Penelope Cruz. Funny as that wasn't, it was more than matched by me arriving home to find an old man in our dormitory going ballistic at two Brazilians who were having sex.
The next day we were joined by Lizzie to go quad-biking across Moon Valley which was at the time and still is probably the best thing we have done all trip. Cruising roads at 70 mph through a mural like landscape which is offset with a river cutting through the Andes mountrain range is yet to be matched in my opinion. Unfortunately that was to be Kev's last contribution in Bolivia, as that evening he was struck down by a gastrointestinal infection that kept him bed-ridden for 5 days. To Kev's pleasant surprise, 4 english medical students arrived in our dormitory that evening, although to his utter disgust after returning from their night out they were sick, everywhere. To say that I could still smell and tread in warm, jagermeister vomit when I returned at 7am would be something of an understatement - quite how one of them managed to produce as much as she did was a medical miracle. Prior to me arriving home, I had gone out to a club called Blue House with Aidan, Toby, Cody, Kelsey, Kelly, Eric and Kyle and had then ventured on to the infamous Route 36, although this wasn't before Kyle had treated us to some of the finest dancing since David Brent's office routine. In the midst of a Run-DMC style dance off, the young man from Arizona attempted The Worm, that unfortunately turned into the Flying Downwards Headbutt Faceplant. After leaping into the air, Kyle got his body position all wrong and reports indicated that he reached terminal velocity on his way to ploughing his nose straight into the granite floor. As Kyle had a bloodied nose, inevitably the Ally 'getting punched by a guy in a portaloo' story made another appearance, although the version Kev had told everyone revolved around me being punched in the face by an 8 year old.
For those of you that haven't visited La Paz, Route 36 is an interesting concept and place. Located in the city centre, it is patrolled by three look-outs who check for police and then radio ahead to inform people on the 'door' (when I say door, they have a metal shutter to let people in and out) that it is safe to let you in. Once inside you have to contend with a myriad of corridors in the darkness, and once you are out of that labyrinth you are met by a final guard who lets you into the club. With no photography permitted, the inside is reminiscent of the club in Layer Cake, although with floor to ceiling mirrors, everyone snorting off the tables, no Daniel Craig and barmen bringing you coke with your drinks. For somebody who has had no real exposure to drugs, it was an experience to watch people rack up line after line of Bolivia's finest, snort it and then go and gyrate like the Geordie Dancer until their hearts content. Coke is viewed very differently over here though, as a Bolivian girl was explaining to me. People will go out and choose to do coke for an evening or choose to drink alcohol, very rarely do they combine them, and because Bolivia's coke is so pure, the risks of doing the drug are much reduced in comparison to taking it in the UK. The narrative and intellectual content aside, Toby was getting very angry with me for not making a move on an Oxford educated 19 year old, until I explained to him that my stomach still hadn't completely recovered and that if she moved her hand any further up my leg there was a genuine chance I would see my dinner again. We went back to Route 36 the following night after beating some Brazilians at pool and a random chav from Romford had bellowed 'YOU'RE ADDICTED TO LOVE AND YOU KNOOOOOOW IT' in Toby's face during a disagreement. Honestly, I entertained the proposition of coke, but eventually declined after assessing the advantages and disadvantages - watching a gorgeous aussie girl struggle to snort a line the same size as her made it abundantly clear that consumption of the stuff is polarised, either you don't do it or you can't get enough of it. She explained to me that it is pretty moreish - much in the same way as I hear Glee is.
Later in the week myself, Lynsey (Pants), Aidan and Toby took on the Death Road in probably one of the most idiotic things I have ever done - Health and Safety is not existent in Bolivia - there is no way we would have been allowed to do it in the UK. It was blowing a gale, raining and most ominously, foggy. With the wind blowing the rain in your face, visibility was about 5 metres for 75 percent of the trip. Myself and Aidan were looking to wear goggles but were put off that idea after the tour guide explained to us that the majority of fatalities that occur on the mountain are due to goggles fogging up. Lance Armstrong or Alberto Contador I was not, and once proceedings were underway it became clear that the downhill sections were not my strong as I was overtaken by almost everybody bar Lynsey and two weird Dutch ladies who were almost as slow as Ruth Thomas. In what was referred to by the tour guide as one of the best races he'd seen on the road, the final stage before lunch was a combination of Hills and Flats and drew a classic battle between Aidan and myself. In a closely contested finale, I emerged victorious, but only after a pulsating game of cat and mouse in which I had reeled Aidan in on the flats from the back of the field and beaten him on the final flat sprint. Pants came in 4th and promptly set about gloating in Toby's face who it is believed suffered a mild cardiac arrest halfway through stage due to lack of fitness.
Again this is being written retrospectively, and at the time where this section is finishing, Kev was on the road to recovery, but it would be a while until he would return to full fitness. In conclusion, I would thoroughly recommend La Paz - I completely disagree with Kev - the city and the atmosphere are very cool and the Wild Rover Hostel is unparalleled in my opinion - although watch out for the weird man who goes round shining lights in your face whilst asleep, the state Kev has left the toilet in and the impromptu coke parties in your dormitory that you never seem to get invited to.