Back in La Paz

Fri, 11 Apr 2008 10:39:09 +0000

Crossing the Desert Index Swing and a Miss

I can't believe both of my days in La Paz have been Sundays. The place deserves better. But I've only seen it with most of the city closed down.

I was completely zonked when I got up this morning, which was pretty disappointing. I thought I'd have got over the altitude earlier than that. I managed to eat a reasonable amount of breakfast: a couple of rolls and one of those fruit salads with yoghurt. But walking up and down the stairs was a major trial.

The major task of the day was to figure out where I'm going next. I had the idea of flying somewhere instead of catching the bus, just for some luxury, so I thought I'd try the airport. I've never just turned up to an airport to buy a ticket before, but I've seen people do it in movies.

First of all, the taxi to the airport costs 50 bolivianos. OK, that's only six or seven euros, but it's five times the usual taxi fare, and it isn't all that far. When I got there, of course it was Sunday and everything was shut. But there was one guy in a booth advertising itself as a travel agency, so I tried there. And it turned out to be 855 bolivianos just to fly to Santa Cruz, before taking a connection somewhere useful. That's well over a hundred euros. It would have cost 180 US dollars to fly from Santa Cruz to Asuncion. No, sorry, that's just silly. I'd far rather travel at ground level.

Speaking of which, I was determined to travel more efficiently on the way back. There was a notice on the wall saying 50 Bs for a taxi, 25 Bs for a shared taxi, and 3 Bs for the mini buses. Hmm. If there had been someone to share with, I would have gladly taken a taxi, but it's Sunday. So there was nothing for it but the mini bus. I haven't yet figured out the mini buses here. They're pretty scary-looking. There's a "conductor" who constantly shouts out the places the bus is going and touting for people to get on. I don't know enough about La Paz to know where these places are or if they're near to where I want to go. But in this case, the bus is just sitting there ready to go, and where is it going but central La Paz?

As it turned out in this case, it went about 1km down the road and then dumped us at a major intersection, nowhere near the centre of town. I could have walked it. And unlike the airport, there were no taxis, only these incomprehensible mini buses. Damn.

I asked a couple of mini buses if they were going to La Paz, and apparently they weren't. Surprising, that. But then a big tourist bus stopped and asked people to hop on. That surely wasn't going anywhere except La Paz, and when I asked, the guy agreed. The price? One boliviano. So on I hopped. I don't get this at all. Why does it cost 3 Bs to travel in discomfort 1km, but 1 B to travel 5km in luxury?

It was looking good, we were descending the valley as we should have been. And then he zigged left instead of zagging right like I expected, and I was screwed again. I resolved to get off as soon as the bus stopped: but it was on a major road and not stopping. Eventually we stopped at an overpass and I got off, wondering how the hell I was going to get back. Whereupon I noticed that I was at the bus station: exactly where I wanted to be. My sense of direction sucks.

So in I went to buy a ticket to Santa Cruz. I shopped around this time, and spent 120 Bs instead of the 100 Bs that was the first offer. Let's see if that buys me a bit more luxury.

Apart from that, there were really no adventures today. I used the internet, watched some TV, and generally wasted my time. My SD card adapter completely fell apart today, which means I once again won't be able to post photos to the blog until I get a replacement in a couple of weeks. Pity, that.

My bus leaves at 17:00 tomorrow, so I guess I have time to visit a museum or something before I leave. But apart from that, I'm just slack.

Crossing the Desert Index Swing and a Miss