Bolivia: La Paz, Uyuni & Potosi
We continued our Bolivian journey to La Paz after having spent a couple of days in Copacabana and the Isla del Sol on Lake Titicaca. Arriving by bus to the administrative capital of La Paz was incredible. The city is so huge and is mainly downhill but the constructions of the suburbs have taken all the surroundings. We never saw something like this before.
It was actually national day on our day of arrival and we could see a lot of things going on. The Alasitas Festival, honoring Ekeko, was about to start and we were looking forward to see how the citizens of La Paz would deal with it. This festival is to wish for goods for yourself or a relative and maybe they will become real! A few streets around the main plaza were closed to the traffic and thousands of tiny stalls took place to sell items. From banknotes to houses, from certificates and degrees to passport and credit cards… We couldn’t resist and we bought a few tokens as souvenirs but didn’t have them blessed by a priest and a shaman so not sure they will work. It is fun to have them (along with an image of the Virgin of La Paz offered to us while visiting the Cathedral) in our pockets at all times now.
After 3 days in La Paz, we headed to Uyuni by night bus to see its Salar. The major salt flat in the world. Very unique indeed! Salt craters under your shoes it almost felt like snow. The city of Uyuni is not the most enjoyable and after only one night we took another bus to Potosi, city of mines, which made the Spaniards rich for more than four centuries.
Daniel and Eiji went on a tour to visit the mines with the help of an ex-miner. It is common to buy a few gifts for the miners that work in the galleries. Among them coca leaves, 96 degrees alcool and dynamite! Working in the mines is extremely hard and the life expectancy for these guys is only of 45-55 years.
we specifically enjoy
- La Paz: the visit of the San Francisco Cathedral and its convent. This is the only way to see the wonderful church otherwise you may sneak in during the office but you may also be kicked out by some people.
- Uyuni: the Salar of course (whatelse?)
- La Paz: we stayed in a AirBnB right in the center, the owner was super friendly and he gave us a lot of info and tips about the city.
- Uyuni: Hotel Las Tholas, expensive but very comfortable for a good night sleep.
- Potosi: Hostal Eucalyptus, nothing fancy here but location was good and the room wasn’t too cold at night despite the altitude.
- La Paz: Alexander Coffee, a nice cafe to start your day with a good shot of caffeine (and media lunas aka croissant!)
- Potosi: Cafe La Plata for one of the best spicy hot chocolate and the Cafe Pub 40.60 (the altitude of the city) for good food.
best kept secret tip/or more of an advice
In La Paz we can only recommend to attend the city walking tour with Red Cap. The two guys are really entertaining and are super knowledgeable about the town and the country. The highlight of the tour was listening to them explaining the witchery rituals to be performed before any new building construction starts…creepy!