La Paz is a city of contradictions.
Peaceful protests, police in riot gear
Women in traditional dress, men dressed in handsome tailored suits
Young mothers working at street stalls nursing babies, business women conducting meetings on the phone as they rush by in their high heels
“Some people here call me a gringo, but i love country” – said the Bolivian doctor.
“Evo [morales, the first indigenous president here] showed us anyone could be president” — said the college student
Cobble steone streets, high rises, street stalls with traditional medicine
People for cocoa, people against it. Farmers fighting for their rights, kids listening to hip-hop.
La Paz is liveable, diverse, and an interesting mix of new and old, indigenous and ‘gringo’. There is an intensity here that I have not felt in other South American cities. Maybe it has to do with being tabouthe capital city or maybe it has to do with the fact that Bolivians seem anything but apathetic. Every morning, when I am out walking around, I see people lined up at the news paper stalls, reading the daily headlines. Every day that I have been here, I have seen some sort of protest, some sort of street blockade. One seemed to be against violence, another was in support of farmers, another was in support of cocoa growers (from what I understand an extremely powerful lobby).
It is a pretty great city though — music, art, and other cultural events happening daily. My ritual this week was to get a paper, sit in the Plaza San Fransisco (along with tons of other people and pigeons) and ‘read’ (as much as I could) the paper and people watch. Oh, and I am now hooked on Suduko (well if you count buying 4 papers hooked). Though i pretty much suck at it. I have yet to finish one! Dammit.
I drank too much coffee (and some really good coffee at that), ate too much street food, walked around a lot, saw enough art to fulfill my cultural needs for awhile and people watched a lot. I met up with some CS’ers, went to a yoga class (yahoo!), and got lost in the back streets. I went to dinner with the doctor who runs the climbing company that I am hiring for my climb (Huanya Potosi — see link below!) – who entertained me with stories of Che and living Bolivia in the 70s and mountaineering in Bolivia.
And though I find La Paz interesting and liveable and fun to walk around, I am ready to get out of the city. It is way too easy to spend too much money here and am ready for a new adventure. So – I am headed out to climb Huayna Potosi, a peak just over 6,000m. that is close to La Paz (http://huayna-potosi.com/mountaineering.html#huayna).
I look forward to telling you all about it. take care friends.