Unmissable La Paz – Where Tradition Meets Modernity Amongst the Mountains

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A typically dressed Bolivian woman walking the streets of La Paz’s historic district

La Paz is a continuous source of bewilderment. Clinging to the canyon walls in a valley below a mountain-shrewn platau lies the beautiful, de-facto capital situated at 3660 metres above the sea, in the shadow of the snowy Mt Illimani (6402m). A plethora of brown, adobe buildings are awakened by the all colourful textiles and traditional clothing of the Bolivian women.

A shattering contrast between rich and poor, modernity and tradition, indigenous and outsider. A fascinating city of epic stories, the world’s most dangerous road, altitude and Altiplano, wrestling women, intriguing rock valleys, cable cars and cobblestone streets.

Welcome to La Paz.

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La Paz is situated in a steep canyon of a mountainous platau
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La Paz from ‘El Alto’
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‘Valle de la Luna’ – ‘Moon Valley’ – a short bus and cable car ride from La Paz

La Paz is graced with access to the nearby Lake Titicaca and Death Road – both unbeatable attractions. Below are some pictures from the 64km single width, shingle road alongside 300 metre drops. Many people – tourists included – have lost their lives to the ‘Camino de la Muerte’. The second line shows some tranquil scenes of Bolivia’s Lake Titicaca. ‘Isla del Sol’ has Inca Ruins and donkeys for transport. Cross over to Peru’s side to experience life on an island made of reeds (used to escape the warrior-like Incas).

It isn’t just the canyon city-scape that makes La Paz such a special memory to me. Nor is it the wonderful cable car tracing the city, the surreal landscape of ‘Valle de la Luna’ – ‘Moon Valley’ , or the many fascinating museums.

To me it was the magic created in the markets. The colourful textiles left me in awe and wonder. The Witches Market left me considering how hanging a dry llama fetus fends away negative spirits, and how sprinkling a powder over your bed will make you “irresistible to women, money and fame.”

The most impressionable market, however? The ‘dangerous’ food market, where the same kind lady served us the same avocado and tomato sandwiches every single day, worried when we didn’t show that we were in danger, suggested remedies for illness and made us feel welcome amongst the astounded stares of the locals. She humoured us with honest answers about her life and country; we shared smiles and laughs. After five weeks in the nation she made us feel like we were finally, truly welcomed to Bolivia.

 

Penny  x

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