La Paz, Bolivia

As we entered the gigantic city of La Paz, we started observing how it is situated in this huge bowl like landscape. It is the world’s highest national capital, sitting at an elevation of about 12,000 feet. It quickly became apparent that people who live here belong on one of two sides of the spectrum dealing with class. People who live in the upper parts of the hills would be considered the lower class and poor, while the people who live in the bottom of the bowl are of higher class and more wealthy. The people of higher class go to the bottom of the bowl because this is where the nicer high-rise buildings and more mild climates are located while in the upper parts of the hills, people experience more extreme climatic weather differences. It is said, though sounding counter intuitive, that those who are struggling that live in the upper hills dream of one day reaching the bottom.

La Paz's vast area of brick houses jam packed together in this huge bowl shaped landscape.

La Paz’s vast area of brick houses jam packed together in this huge bowl shaped landscape.

On our first afternoon here in La Paz, we did a brief walk around the main part of the city and found the local market. Here we found what would become our Thanksgiving dinner. We got potatoes, butter, and veggies. In the Adventure Brews annex building we prepared our Thanksgiving meal. We made mashed potatoes with the butter (which was actually amazing, seeing how we had to mash the taters with a spoon and fork.. haha). Then we made a little stir-fry with the veggies. Even though we didn’t get any turkey or anything that slightly resembled a turkey, our feast was very nice! And while we were starting to eat, we became very sad and lonely feeling because we knew that everyone back home was gathering for their Thanksgiving meal, so what did we have to do, we had to FaceTime back home to get that homesick feeling alleviated. It was awesome to FaceTime back to the Green house, and see all the grandparents and everyone!

Our Thanksgiving meal consisting of mashed potatoes, grilled/sautéed veggies, and tropical juice.

Our Thanksgiving meal consisting of mashed potatoes, grilled/sautéed veggies, and tropical juice.

{Traveler’s Tip.. Stay at Adventure Brew Hostel!! It’s really close to the bus terminal, and is only 49 Bolivianos a night. And you get one free beer each night and unlimited pancakes in the morning! You can stay at Adventure Brew B & B if you want a bit more quiet atmosphere.. and you can use the kitchen with whichever place you stay!}

On our next day in La Paz we spent the first half of it doing some work that we desperately needed to catch up on and then followed it by looking for a company that was the best quality along with the best price for doing the downhill mountain bike descent of the Yungas road, or better known as Death Road. In 2006, an organization from the USA estimated that between 200 and 300 people die on this road each year, therefore it is the deadliest road in the world and yeah, we wanted to mountain bike down it! DUH!

After building up a large appetite searching for the best company, or so we thought… again… we went back to the local market and bought a ton of veggies, rice, and lentils. But what we were craving the most at this point was guacamole and Doritos chips. The only lady who was selling the avocados literally had a monopoly on it. Even though Bolivia is cheaper than Peru, somehow the avocados were about three times the price as they were in Peru. So after all our purchases we went back to the annex building of Adventure Brews and started making the guac, which was only supposed to be an appetizer and then all the other things we bought was supposed to be the main course—a soup. But somehow the guac and chips turned into the main course and we didn’t even eat the soup, but we made so much of it we had to put in the fridge for the next day. This actually turned into a good idea because we were supposed to be getting back from our Death Road trip in the evening and we probably wouldn’t want to make a dinner.

Preparing dinner and getting ready to drink wine from coffee cups in the hopes of concealing what we were drinking from the workers at the hostel. Technically we are not supposed to bring alcohol any outside drinks in.

Preparing dinner and getting ready to drink wine from coffee cups in the hopes of concealing what we were drinking from the workers at the hostel. Technically we are not supposed to bring alcohol any outside drinks in.

The next morning came early; we were to be picked up at 7:45 am for the insane downhill death ride. Between eating a quick pancake breakfast and getting picked up, Jason had noticed that he didn’t have the key to the cabinet that had all the stuff. Where might the key be, you ask? Well, it along with the other two keys were all located in the cabinet that was locked up! So how do you open a lock when you only have 10 minutes before we would be walking out the door? You try to pick the lock with a bobby pin, that’s what. After trying at this for a good 5 minutes, we had no luck. So Jason went down to reception and told them our situation. After a couple minutes trying to explain with the language barrier, Jason was able to get through to them and then the guys handed him a HUGE tool: bolt cutters. Jason went up to cut lock, with little difficuties we were in! What a relief, we got the GoPro and other essential items necessary for the day that was about to unfold before us.

We were surprised that our tour group picked us up a little early and were thinking that this was a good sign in an agency and that we actually picked a good company to go through. But unfortunately things quickly turned. We were told that we would be in a group of 5 riders, which we were looking forward to, because on our Salkantay hike it was just us two and that was kind of sad. Anyways, we went to the next hostel to pick up a couple of people and what did we do? We ended up sitting in the van for just a few minutes more than an hour while the guide ran, literally ran, around the city to find the other riders. Eventually they gave up and went to another hostel to pick up one more guy. He was Chilean and didn’t have the greatest English so that was a bit difficult in terms of hanging out with him during the drive up and at the rest spots along the Death Road. And our guide didn’t really speak English either, but no big deal. The Death Road was absolutely amazing in so many ways: adrenaline rush, pure beauty, and shear terror.

Our bikes on top of the van.

Our bikes on top of the van.

Right before we hopped on our mountain bikes to head down the Deadliest Road in the world.

Right before we hopped on our mountain bikes to head down the Deadliest Road in the world.

In the middle of our trip down, we saw first hand the results of why it is called Death Road, there was a car that was upside down halfway down the hill. It must have just happened because there was some authorities who were investigating this accident. And one insane thing happened to Jason, while he was riding he had the GoPro attached to the bike and because of all the vibrations from the road, it made a clean break in the plastic mount. This resulted in the GoPro flying off and tumbling down the gravel road. Luckily it went in the direction of the ditch, otherwise we would no longer have a GoPro! But the worst part of it is, in the plastic housing where the lens is, it has a scratch in it and now the pictures and videos have a permanent blurry spot on it and there are no GoPro parts to be found in Bolivia and who knows if anywhere else.

Heather leading the way.

Heather leading the way.

Another View of the Valley of the Yungas.

Another View of the Valley of the Yungas.

GoPro selfie in the middle of Death Road.

GoPro selfie in the middle of Death Road.

Nice view from the top of a Mirador (Lookout).

Nice view from the top of a Mirador (Lookout).

Almost done.

Almost done.

Sitting and taking in the views with a pic to prove it.

Sitting and taking in the views with a pic to prove it.

Huge hanging cliff. Most iconic picture location for the Death Road

Huge hanging cliff. Most iconic picture location for the Death Road

Strike a pose

Strike a pose

A feeling of accomplishment half way through the trip of the Death Road

A feeling of accomplishment half way through the trip of the Death Road

Heather on the Death Road

Heather on the Death Road

Jason on the Death Road

Jason on the Death Road

Our little Pacha Tour Group

Our little Pacha Tour Group

Death Road Part II: Gravel Section

Death Road Part II: Gravel Section

A little bunny hop on the Death Road

A little bunny hop on the Death Road

A view of the Valley of the Yungas

A view of the Valley of the Yungas

Descending the Death Road

Descending the Death Road

Finished the Death Road

Finished the Death Road

A nice way to relax after riding all morning.

A nice way to relax after riding all morning.

After our three and a half hours, 40mi, and 13,000 feet of descending, we were treated with an all you can eat buffet lunch followed by an hour of swimming in a beautiful pool located just outside the town of Coroico, Bolivia. Once we arrived back in La Paz, we were given t-shirts and a CD of all the pictures from the trip.

Cheesin' after finishing the ride down the Death Road.

Cheesin’ after finishing the ride down the Death Road.

{Traveler’s Tip.. research your options for the best price. It’s easy to go downtown and talk with all the agencies, and is really worth it to see what they each offer. They all have the same trip, but some are a bit more safe and have better equipment than others. We did a really cheap one, after making sure the bikes were in decent condition, we decided to pay the least amount of money. We didn’t get a tour, but instead just road down the mountain, so if you want to get a “tour” and learn about the road, be sure to ask the agency if they do so. Also… make sure the guide’s camera has a clean lens, ours wasn’t clean so the pictures our guide took weren’t that great!}

A view of all the houses of La Paz

A view of all the houses of La Paz

La Paz was an epic city.

La Paz was an epic city.

Downtown La Paz, high rises and all.

Downtown La Paz, high rises and all.

Another view of La Paz, Bolivia

Another view of La Paz, Bolivia

Upon arriving back to the hostel, we remembered about the soup we made the night previously! We got situated and was about to go over and eat but we were invited to go to a Swiss Fondue restaurant with a few other people and there was no way that we could turn this down. We decided that we would only get chocolate fondue and a bottle of wine because we would eat our main dinner we already made. So we went over heated up our meal and ate it. The five of us met up outside and caught a cab to the restaurant. How in the world could we be kidding ourselves, there was no way we weren’t going to be getting at least a cheese fondue as well! Even though we got a lot of things, it was seriously so cheap. It’s a little weird here in Bolivia, we have decided that it is actually a little more expensive to buy and make our own food than it would be to go and buy something from a restaurant! The cheese fondue was absolutely amazing. The wine.. oh my.. we haven’t had good wine in over a month, and whew.. was this Bolivian wine good.. and the chocolate fondue.. let’s just say again our mouths are watering thinking about it!! Yum!!

Dinner at the Swiss Fondue with a few people we met in Adventure Brew Hostel.

Dinner at the Swiss Fondue with a few people we met in Adventure Brew Hostel.

{Traveler’s Tip… treat yourself to Swiss Fondue!! It was absolutely amazing, and really cheap!!}

After fondue, we went back to the hostel and got our free beers for the night. Yes, with Adventure Brew Hostel, you get one free beer a night every night you stay here. So by paying B. 49 (7 USD) we each had a bed to sleep in, a free beer between 8:00 pm and midnight, and unlimited pancakes in the morning! Now as most of you know, this ended up being a great deal for Jason, because Heather doesn’t like beer, so Jason got two free every night! The beer is absolutely amazing beer too!! It’s an Amber Ale, and the best Jason has had so far down here in South America. So Jason enjoyed two free beers each of the six nights we stayed at this hostel, and even enjoyed three free beers when our friend went to bed early and didn’t want hers .

Heather has been battling a really bad stomachache for the past week or so and the next morning she was feeling especially bad. What we need is a lot of intense prayer for her. We don’t know what it could be because we haven’t been taking notes of what we eat and what we do and there seems to be no rhyme or reason for it.

So during the day, Heather slept most of it while Jason did a bunch of computer work. Even when there are days that seem to be a waste, in reality, they are still a gift from God. We often find, whether it’s back home or on the road, that when we are busy and worrying about work/school or where our next destination is, we lose sight of what really matters in life. So when we are ill or forced to take a day or two to relax and stay in one place we like to look to God and praise Him for all that He is and does! Heather literally spent all day in bed sleeping and reading. The only time she got out of bed was to try and manage to eat a few bites of food, which often didn’t work. But the day of rest was exactly what she needed, and when she woke up the next morning she was feeling much better.

A view of Huayna Potosi Mountain from the top of our hostel.

A view of Huayna Potosi Mountain from the top of our hostel.

The witches market. You can get a variety of things ranging from dead baby alpacas, coma sutras, and assortments of herbs.

The witches market. You can get a variety of things ranging from dead baby alpacas, coma sutras, and assortments of herbs.

The cool local buses of La Paz.

The cool local buses of La Paz.

Christmas Decorations. Missing home a little bit.

Christmas Decorations. Missing home a little bit.

Huayna Potosi Mountain

Huayna Potosi Mountain

The next day, we planned to be out and exploring La Paz with the guidance of a free walking tour at 10am. Well, by the time we were ready to walk out the door we both asked each other if we knew where we were supposed to meet for the walking tour and neither of us knew. So we decided to go and do our own tour of the city: aerial style. We walked up the street a little and found the cable car/gondola (red route) that takes you up to the top of La Paz and into El Alto. At the top, there is a huge market that is absolutely thriving on Thursdays and Saturdays; we didn’t go up on either of those days, but rather a Monday. Even on Monday, the market is huge and bumpin’. As we walked through the market, it had a different vibe than any other market we have been to thus far. It was busy, crazy, and very much so enjoyable all the while we were walking through. At one point we came to a street cart that was selling empanadas. They are a deep fried dough with either meet or eggs inside with other ingredients. We chose the egg version. It was absolutely amazing; you can put salsa, carrots, or even a peanut sauce on them and it is just heaven!

Getting ready to ride the cable car up to El Alto, a city on the out skirts of La Paz.

Getting ready to ride the cable car up to El Alto, a city on the out skirts of La Paz.

Approaching the top, with a car wedged in-between the crack of the mountain in the distance.

Approaching the top, with a car wedged in-between the crack of the mountain in the distance.

Just Heather on the cable car.

Just Heather on the cable car.

Jason on the cable car.

Jason on the cable car.

On the cable car looking onto La Paz

On the cable car looking onto La Paz

The women security officers wear their traditional skirts.

The women security officers wear their traditional skirts.

Selfie in the cable car.

Selfie in the cable car.

La Paz, Bolivia.

La Paz, Bolivia.

{Traveler’s Tip.. Do the gondola ride!! It is only 3 Bolivianos and gives you amazing views!! We suggest to do it in the day time and at night!! The town is absolutely breathtaking at night and we were bummed we didn’t do the gondola to see the view from it at dark!}

After continuing on, we finally found the next gondola (yellow route) and proceeded on down back into the main part of La Paz. At the bottom of the yellow route, we were 3.1 miles away from our hostel. We decided that this would be a good time to walk back, get a little “hike” in, and explore the city that tourists don’t really explore—this may have been a bad idea…

La Paz

La Paz

As we were walking from the bottom of the yellow route it started raining a bit. That rain quickly turned into a pour and we were running for cover. We made it to a little cut out from a wall and stayed there for a bit drenched and cracking up that we were caught in this huge storm. We camped out there watching cars drive by and praying they didn’t splash us, until Heather quickly jumped to her feet because the ground below her was flooding. We had to make a mad dash for the next covering. This ended up being not too far away from the first, but the road here flooded as well, and we were left out in the pouring down rain. We made our way to a coffee shop where we grabbed a sandwich, hot chocolate and an espresso and waited out the storm. By the time we finished out lunch and drinks, our clothes were dry and the rain had stopped so we continued on our walk.

Stuck in the rain/thunder/lightening storm

Stuck in the rain/thunder/lightening storm

The picture doesn't do justice in showing how hard the rain was coming down.

The picture doesn’t do justice in showing how hard the rain was coming down.

And this is where it happened. A scene pulled directly from a movie. We were just walking down the street when a wall of water hit us. Yes, a car drove by, right through a puddle and the aftermath was us getting drenched with bystanders laughing at us! It was hilarious!! We decided we would take a break from being outside for a bit and do some browsing in the markets, where Heather bought her first souvenir of the trip, an alpaca scarf!

After we got soaked by a car driving by and hitting a huge puddle that was like a wave coming over us. The people across the street were laughing at us because of what had happened. I suppose we would have done the same if it had happened to someone else.

After we got soaked by a car driving by and hitting a huge puddle that was like a wave coming over us. The people across the street were laughing at us because of what had happened. I suppose we would have done the same if it had happened to someone else.

Eating some delicious street food!

Eating some delicious street food!

The street food is amazing!

The street food is amazing!

The day ended with amazing street food, then a nice evening together in the hostel kitchen making soup, drinking wine out of coffee mugs, and listening to music. We enjoyed a couple rounds of pool, a few games of ping pong, then called it a night so we could catch the morning bus to Rurrenabarque to do a pampas tour in the Amazon!!

GET OUR MONTHLY(ish) NEWSLETTER
Become a part of the ArboursAbroad Family! Receive our newsletter along with freebies (like our budget guide) straight to your inbox!
Here's where we tell you your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else... but seriously, who does that anyways? Don't worry about a thing 🙂

5 thoughts on “La Paz, Bolivia

  • Aw Heathy hope your stomach is doing better! Looks like an amazing city though!! We have a friend from Argentina and he just made us some amazing empanadas similar to the ones you guys had, so yummy!
    I cannot believe you guys got soaked! So funny! And such a bummer at the time but just another funny story to look back on. Praying for you! Love you guys!

    • Yeah La Paz was amazing!! It was such a gorgeous, unexpected beautiful place! We had no idea what we were heading into except for that it was a big city! ha.. and my stomach is doing a lot better.. I think that resting for the whole day really helped and we started cooking for ourselves because all throughout Bolivia both our stomachs were upset.. and cooking for ourselves helped a bit! We just got into Chile today, and we are hoping the stomach here sits better with our bellies!!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: