Excerpt from the Journal of Olds – Day 373-375 – Bolivia – La Paz

This arrival was at around 7ish I think and after groggily departing the bus, collecting our luggage and saying our goodbyes to Shane & Katrina we caught a taxi around to our hotel who were thankfully happy to let us check in straight away. The room was a good size and a welcome improvement on our Uyuni hovel. After a cheeky freeloader breakfast that we ended up paying for anyway and a huge bag of washing passed over for laundry we crashed until the afternoon.

Deciding to write the day off and ignore our ever-frustrating (these days) traveller / tourist obligations we took a micro (local minibus) out to a place recommended by our Sucre friends David & Emily. It was a mall / cinema complex called Mega Center which happened to be at the other side of La Paz affording us a tour through the majority of the city to get there (thus rendering us not entirely ignorant). Within we indulged in a fast food dinner and caught Taken 2 at the flicks in English.

I can’t stress enough how much I enjoy taking a break from the now normal routine of the nomadic lifestyle to which we’ve become accustomed. It’s for this very reason that I feel I’ll do alright when the time comes to finally return home and reintegrate into something like the life I led before becoming a traveller. For me personally I think that for whatever reason at this time in my life the length of this world tour was probably excessive – for all its brilliance (and there has doubtless been a lot, most notably all the new friends) I think by this point I’d reached a stage where I wasn’t engaging with the intricacies of what makes each place tick; I wasn’t loving it to the extent that such a privileged endeavour should be loved. I was knackered – on all levels! Back in the Mega Center we caught a taxi back to our Hotel and crashed.

Our lazy La Paz time started late again but with enough drive to get out and see a bit of the town. We had relatively little in the way of sites to see so after breakie wandered the Witches Market first which happened to be right outside our door. We bought a fossil off an old lady (sounds like I’m leading up to magic beans here…) and snapped away at the dead Llama foetus’s hanging outside every store. There’s a big market for these – bury them under your house for good luck. They had all manner of comically labelled potions for ailments, imperfections, improvements and who knows what but it didn’t take too long to get the measure of the place and move on.

We then wandered to the San Francisco church which typically for South America didn’t allow photos to be taken inside thus reducing my ability / desire to engage with it to next to nothing. Then it was off through the city to find San Pedro prison – the famous stage for the book ‘Marching Powder’. I’ve not read it but by all accounts the place was / possibly still is almost a state within itself with an economy based purely on the manufacture of cocaine and an individual’s position within governed by their success / worth. Families live with the inmates and those at the top can live in comparative luxury. As I said, I’ve not read it so don’t quote me on this but what I can say is that it looks like a big building from the outside…and that’s about it. The rest of our day was relatively lazy and aside from an enigmatic empanada salesman was of little note. In the evening however our Salt Flats companions Agathe & Pierre arrived back from Lake Titicaca and joined us for a curry and a catch up. We had a lovely evening for our short-lived reunion and topped it off with a few rum coffees and desserts before saying our goodbyes and heading back to sleep.

While we’d initially planned to move on the next day we elected to hang about for one more to allow Fi to fully recover and to get rested before Lake Titicaca. This meant doing almost nothing throughout beyond bringing the laptop back to life (like a true sneaky IT ninja) and clearing memory cards via the now single USB slot and a hastily purchased hub. Cable TV and bed were largely the order of the day though we did nip out to the Coca Museum for a splash of culture / education which I think comfortably offsets the guilt associated with failing to spend your every waking moment waltzing your environment in search of enlightenment.