26.07.10 – Copacabana to La Paz

Had the whole morning since my bus to La Paz was departing only at 130pm. Unfortunately there are no separate boat trips to Isla de la Luna. But I was fine just having a late breakfast (the breakfast in the hotel is enough to last you till lunch and tea) and trying to finish my book, which is just taking too long to read.

Sat at the park in front of the church and read my book in the sun, as well as eyeballing at the rows of cars parked in front of the church: these cars are being blessed by some church people who were sprinkling holy water (I think) whilst the owners adorned the car with flowers and splashed it with champagne. Some other owners took the opportunity to light fire crackers. So much happening in front of a church in this small sleepy town!

The bus ride to La Paz winds pass more lakes and postcard-perfect sceneries, and at one point there was a ferry (actually, more like sampan) crossing since there was no bridge. We had to get off the bus to take a separate boat, whereas the bus rolled onto a spartan boat that looked a bit small for the gargantuan land vehicle. Someone commented that all our luggage is actually on that bus, floating vicariously across the lake. After the crossing, bus continued on the high plains, and before long we were in Alto city, with the view of densely-built La Paz right below in the canyon.

And what a sight it is: with Mount Illimani in the background, buildings are cramped packed into the city, with not a single inch wasted. After settling down my luggage (that is, after much time, since I didn’t have a hotel reservation) it was already dark. But I was hungry! So walked around and stumbled into a local eatery (I was to discover that small eateries are a bit hard to find in fast-food obsessed downtown La Paz). And there I had a Bolivian dish called majadito! It is yummy flavoured rice with beef jerky (which I opted not to have), a fried egg and fried bananas. I’m still trying to find out what goes into the rice.

After that, I was still hungry (my excuse being I didn’t have lunch) and stumbled across an empanada shop. Had a baked empanada roja (which has pepper and onions) and a mocachinchi, a typical Bolivian sour peach drink.

Continued walking in this lively city as the stalls open till late night. Walking through what I thought is in an interminable pasar malam, I was beginning to like La Paz and its dusty chaotic mess that is cramped into narrow traffic-filled streets, so full of people and full of life.

Then, I heard a beautiful voice singing through a loudspeaker. Was about to try and ask the man manning through loudspeaker what music it was, that I suddenly realised a lot of people were crowding in front of the loudspeaker. Some were standing in circles chatting to each other, some were seated on the pavement with blankets on their laps. Is this a queue for some concert? But then I also saw armed policemen circling the area although nothing serious seems to be going on. After walking in and out of the crowd, I decided to ask the man manning the loudspeaker what is going on. He rattled off a whole bunch of things but I gathered this is a street protest related to work. I said but the music is beautiful, and apparently, the music is part of the protest too! How cute! If only my Spanish was good enough to converse more with him since he seemed very eager to tell me more.

By the time I walked back to the inn on steep slopes at about 930pm, the crowd – nor the traffic – has diminished in downtown La Paz. What a happening place!

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