I sleep in this morning, while my group goes for a city-sightseeing. For breakfast I only have tea and toast, and then, feeling totaly miserable, go online. A message from a friend cheers me up: she invites me to join for a week in France with a bunch of friends to go skiing. Skiing? Not my thing, absolutely not appealing. But all my friends are going and I accept. And feel quite better now :)
I ask the receptionist for the most nearby supermarket, and then head down the main avenue, Avenida 16 de Julio. It's a wonderful sunny and warm day, and I enjoy the freedom to walk the streets on my own, not being rushed and lead to things I might not really want to go to. Really, group travel is not my thing, I know that now. I discover the public traffic system, a kind of mini vans, colourful with the name of the stops sticked to the vehicle in big colourful letters.
public bus system
And a person shouting out the stops through the open window or even open door. There are news stands that sell all kinds of stuff besides newspapers. And juice-stands, little orange squeezing machines on wheels, where you can buy a glass of freshly squezzed orange juice. My mouth waters, but I have to refrain from it since I am not sure how my stomach will react. I want to take a photo of said juice-stand, but the owner is very not amused about it. I remember our guide telling us that the Bolivians don't like to be photographed, might even get hostile if a tourist tries anyway. I settle for general photographs.
I find the supermarket and buy some essentials. Like beer. And coca tea. The prices are similar to Croatia, I find them a little too high considering Bolivia is the poorest country in south America.
the owner didn't like to be photographed, but I only wanted to photograph the juice stand.
I wonder how the people get by.
I don't think I will make it back to the hotel on foot and slightly uphill, weak as I am, so I call for a taxi. Just stand in the street and wave. It seems to me, that the majority of traffic is public service, there don't seem to be many private cars. But I see a couple of vintage VW Beetles, nice. The taxi driver doesn't say a word and manouvers us through the bustling traffic, using the siren quite frequently, mostly at crossings.
Back at the hotel, I realize I need some more gifts for friends at home, but don't have the strength to go shopping. I decide to get it all at the only shop in the hotel that sells alpaca clothes and handicraft. I think, I made the saleswoman happy.
In the afternoon my group is back, and I don't want to stay in my room any longer.
I want to go out, see La Paz! I manage to convince my cousin and her friends to join me to go seeing the Witch Doctor's market. They are a little concerned about how to get there, and my suggestion to take a taxi leaves them a little uncertain. I realize, that although they have traveled half the world, they never were travelers but tourists. They saw many countries, but in a controlled environment where everything was provided for. When I told them that I went to the supermarket and came back by taxi on my own my cousin was amazed. Finally, they accepted and I called us a taxi. After we arrived at the market, they were all gleeful what an exciting experience that was, and I was happy. We set off strolling through the alleys, peeking into the little stores with alpaca clothes, fabric toys, rugs, musical instruments and many many other stuff.
It was really interesting, especially the dried llama fetuses and undefinable herbs and minerals. My friends were in shopping mode, and I was not, which lead to me waiting most of the time for them to get out of a store. At one such waiting period a young man waved towards me. He and his friends were sitting at the sidewalk selling jewelry they made. I came over and we started to chat, as much as it was possible with my bad spanish and his bad english. He introduced himself as Marco, and soon I was sitting right next to him on the sidewalk chatting away with him and his friends. One of them was a girl from Italy who was traveling the world for over a year now, living in different places for several months and earning her living with selfmade jewelry. The jewelry was really beautiful and I bought a necklace with a butterfly, a mariposa
Marco was very grateful, I could see that this would help him a lot, it was obvious he wasn't in best of conditions. And I just loved the necklace! This little encounter with Marco and his friends made my day, and Bolivia to the best part of this trip.
In the evening we had an organized dinner in a local restaurant with a folklore show. I can't eat much, but I did enjoy the show. The band played traditional Bolivian tunes on traditional instruments. When the pan flute player started to play I couldn't help crying. Though the dancing show seemed a little bit overdone, the music was absolutely amazing! They really touched my heart.