Destination Bolivia

Having returned from 14 months on the road in last December, and securing our first full-time jobs, after about 4 months of work, we were dreaming about being away. To fill our precious month of vacation, I first attempted to surprise Yann with a trip to Russia, although he was grateful, he was also more realistic than I was, and quickly pointed out how much such a trip would actually cost. We ruled out expensive Russia and started searching for cheap flights. We quickly settled on South America, where return flights started at about 800$.

Although the flights to Bolivia were more expensive, but it seemed to us at the time to be particularly interesting culturally and politically. We departed from Montreal at the end of August, two days after we finished teaching our two summer courses.

We landed at the La Paz airport in the early morning along with one of our backpacks (Yann’s). The “lost baggage counter” consisted of one guy standing in the middle of the arrival lounge with a clipboard surrounded by an increasing number of people. With one flight arriving from Miami per day, I would only get my bag the next day, which didn’t put much of a dent in our travel plans.

Within a few minutes of filling out the baggage form, we were outside, hopping into a shared taxi that would drop us off at the door of our hostel in central La Paz for $0.50.
The descent from the airport (in El Alto) into La Paz provided us a few glimpses of the bustling morning life of residents of La Paz’s less-privileged neighbouring city. They queued up at steaming breakfast stalls or jumped onto one of the dozens of shared taxis heading into La Paz. The women clad in multiple layers of ankle-leg skirts, their hair in two long dark braids and a small hat perching miraculously atop of their heads. As we drove into La Paz, we admired the thousands of brownish, crumbling, square homes, lining the canyon walls and the white-capped peaks of the Andes towering over the city in almost every direction. It's hard to imagine how Bolivia's largest urban centre ended up here.

We settled into our hostel and slept for a few hours, in order to attempt to ward off altitude sickness. Any beneficial affects this might have had were countered by our evening’s first meal, “rack of sheep”.