Bolivia - First Impressions

La Paz Travel Blog

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There is a difference between Peru and Bolivia.  Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in South America and it shows.  I had to walk across the border, and was immediately greeted by an old woman begging in a merciful tone and passed several people with false eye injuries. 

At the same time, I entered the beautiful town of Copacabana and enjoyed a wonderful night on La Isla del Sol. 

Yet, coming back, I noticed everything operates a little differently here.  First of all, the seats on the bus were oversold and I barely got a seat.  Other travellers told me of incidences where they had to sit in the aisles because their seats were sold to other people when they arrived a little late to the terminal.  And yes, on my bus ticket, there was not seat assignment and the ticket seller did not keep count of how many tickets she sold.  Thankfully, the overflow was taken by another bus, but I wouldn't expect this every time. 

I also had a bit of an incident with the money changer as she tried to get away with short changing me.

On the other hand, everything is really cheap here.  Basic accommodations are around $3 a night, $5 for a more decent place to stay.  Food is really cheap.  A good dinner only sets me back $2 to $3.  It's crazy.  I feel like I'm in Nepal again.

But the lack of money in Bolivia's economy is apparent.  The bus to La Paz requried a short crossing over Lake Titicaca.  One would expect a ferry to take the bus across, but instead, for our safety we all got out while the bus embarked on a wooden, derelict barge that really looked like it would sink under the bus' weight.  It was just amazing to watch the buses drive on and the barges barely keep above the water.

The boat to take the bus passengers across was no better.  Falling apart, holes in the floor, 4 life jackets for 20 people, and generally being pushed around by the waves.  It was a lot of fun, needless to say.

And, of course, there's La Paz, the capital.  It seems small at first until you come upon the valley, or crater, as I prefer to call it.  It is just immense and sprawling with houses and buildings everywhere.  I have never seen anything like it in my life.  And yes, the air here is intensely polluted.  It's only been a day and La Paz has been quite an adventure, but I'll have to write that in another blog entry...

paganmom says:
I had the same experiences in La Paz! What a great city.
Posted on: Sep 27, 2007
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La Paz
photo by: wilfredoc2009