The blog is not finished! But after the Theft (yes, capital letters), the want/need to update the blog took second fiddle to dealing with the Theft and just finishing the trip sans computer. Since being home, it's been hard to get that motivation to complete it. But I will. Ever so slowly. Please be patient!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Day 51, A Short Tour

The following takes place on Monday, January 17, 2011

It’s my last day in La Paz before my flight to Rurrenabaque so I decided to actually see a bit more of the city in the way of a paid City Tour with a private guide. It would be a short tour, only three and a half hours, but we saw a lot in those few short hours.

The day started early with my guide and his driver picking me up at the hotel. We immediatly started driving south of the city towards the Valle de la Luna(Moon Valley). Along the way we had an interesting conversation regarding the cocaine farming that is done in the country. What’s interesting is the consumption of cocaine is not a problem in Bolivia. Barely anyone does it. The problem is the sale and trafficking of the stuff. It’s big money which is why it’s hard for the police and government to crack down on it.

But leaving drug politics behind, we arrived at the Moon Valley just as the IMG_1488temperature really started to rise. The area, made of limestone and sandstone towers shaped by the wind and rain, was an important religious site for the ancient peoples of this area. And walking through it you can see why. It’s incrediablly surreal. Like walking on a different planet.

We followed the path through the small area for about an hour before we got back into our car and headed for a little driving tour of the rich area of La Paz. What a difference in affluence. The houses we passed could easily be found on Saskatchewan Crescent back at home. When I asked how much one of these homes costs, he said “Oh, very expensive. About 30,000 US dollars.”

The area reminded me very much of downtown Saskatoon, with the affluent shops and people dressed in their best. It was quite amusing to hear that you can buy the same things in this part of the city as others, except here you pay at least two times the price. I shall continue to look upon those that like to spend $150 on a pair of jeans with a raised eyebrow, knowing you can get the same quality for half the price without being a label whore. IMG_1514

We then drove up, and up, and up, to one of the many lookout areas in the city. The view from up hear was breathless, both for the altitude and the amazing scenery that was in front of me. I also learned something interesting in regards to the tons of unfinished exteriors to the buildings. Apparantly, taxes that you have to pay on your property go up when the exterior is finished so many people opt to just not finish their houses in order to avoid paying taxes. This will be changing soon as the government is planning on changing it around, having the IMG_1521higher taxes on unfinished houses.

We stopped briefly at the main square of the city to look at the government buildings and for me to learn some more about Bolivian politics, including how the President, the first indigenous person to be elected to such a high office, has been working to make sure indiginous cultures, especially the Andean cultures, are recognized within the government. The biggest change he has implemented thus far is the rule that all government offices must fly both the Bolivian flag as well as the Andean flag.

Our final stop was in the Witches Market where I got to find out exactly why it’sIMG_1532 called such. At certain times of the year, the people of La Paz come to this street to purchase baskets of offerings to burn, including sugar plaques of certain wishes(better job, health, etc). Also on sale: llama fetuses. Surprisingly, I was still hungry after this.

1 comment: