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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hello La Paz

 I will have over 200 blog entries now so this is a big milestone for me! I will try and make this as interesting as I can haha.

We finally made it to La Paz in one piece and the first thing I did was try and sleep off this stomach bug. I slept for a good solid 8 hours and felt better when I woke up. Now I am able to take some liquids and even eat some food. I am still not 100% but much better than before so if I am lucky this will only be a 24 hour bug. Being in the highest capital city in the world is hard on your body though. In addition to being sick I have to deal with the altitude and I am constantly out of breath even from just walking down the street!

Bolivia is a nice country and the people are really friendly but it is also incredibly poor here. There is a huge divide between the rich and the poor and you see beggars everywhere. It very much parallels south east asia for me. But, things are super super cheap here! Today we went shopping at this MASSIVE outdoor market and we paid 2 B's (Bolivianos) for the half hour "taxi" ride. We were crammed into a van with 13 other people but 2 B's is about 20 Cents (American!) Once we got there we were hungry and we needed something to eat. My stomach was feeling slightly better and I knew I needed to eat so we went to a local food stall there. (Westernized food just doesn't exist here so you have to eat like a local)

We picked a food stall packed with people and for just under 2 USD we got a quarter chicken,potatoes,salad,cooked banana and a coke. All of it was prepared under very questionable food health standards and we had to eat with our hands (there was no silverware) but it was actually really good and so far I haven't been sick again.  Everyone has to eat and you just eat what you can get. It is all cheap as chips anyway.

At the market I managed to buy a few things that I needed (because they sold everything under the sun!) and I got them for more than 80% less than what I would pay back home. On a little side note, we have found out there is riots here in La Paz. This is the second country I have visited where there has been political unrest. Apparently teachers,miners,doctors and a hodge podge of other workers are striking (I am assuming for better pay) there is police in riot gear everywhere!

The protest have been fairly small and not super close to us so we have never been in danger but you can feel that the city is a little high strung. The police have tear gas and rubber bullets so we know that they aren't intending to kill anyone and so far we have just seen them standing around. I am not really worried at all but, the miners are quite angry for some reason and they continue to blow up dynamite! I have no idea where they are doing it and how they aren't killing people/destroying property but they have something worked out because I haven't even seen an explosion of any kind but we sure can hear it! It is so loud sometimes it rattles the windows! We will be fine though :)

The other thing I wanted to mention was the fashion style of the ladies here. I have no idea how this got started but most of the ladies here wear basically like shawls/blankets along with random footwear and bowler hats! all of them wear these hats that look like they are straight out of the 1930's! Also, the taxis here are quite wild! They don't really obey any driving laws very similar to Asia. They will stop ANYWHERE AT ANYTIME if you flag them down and they are usually packed with more than ten people (they are usually vans) and they cost about 20 cents USD to get you all the way across the city! They just open their doors and shout out where they are going and how many people they can fit. They also honk constantly! (to let you know they have free space)

You really have to get used to the noise here. There is constant noise of people shouting and trying to sell you stuff and its kinda crazy but you get used to it.  La Paz is a nice city but like most 3rd world countries I have visited it is just really dirty. There is no rubbish bins anywhere so people just throw their rubbish all over the ground. You can't drink the water here as it is too polluted. But even thru all that I still like this city and it has a lot of character. It is also very cheap here. I got 3 scoops of amazing ice cream with toppings for under 2 USD! Everyone has been really nice here to us and patient with my bad Spanish haha. We are staying in a really cool hostel here that is really modern with hot showers and free Internet and it only cost 7 USD per night :)

When I first landed in Santiago Chile I was sleeping terribly trying to adjust from the huge time difference between New Zealand and South America so for about a week I couldn't sleep at all but now thankfully I am pretty much back on schedule. So, when I finally do make it home I should be ok.  Tomorrow we will be leaving La Paz for Lake Titicaca and we paid only $3.50 USD to get there! I will update you more later. I am still having fun and this city does have a lot of character if you don't judge a book by its cover. The only thing that will make this any better is when I am back 100% health wise. -Tyler

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