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QUICK UPDATE: 09/28/2011

posted Oct 4, 2011, 8:50 AM by Matthew Gorzlancyk   [ updated Oct 4, 2011, 9:18 AM ]

21,920 kilometers and 454 days and we are now in La Paz enjoying the cheap street meat. With such a lively city currently we should have plenty to entertain us before we hit the road for the Salar de Uyuni.

The ride from Copacabana, Boliva to La Paz, Bolivia. A quick rip on bike from Copacabana, but a beautiful one!

            The ride from Copacabana was relatively easy with elevations ranging between 3800 and 4300 meters above sea level. Of the 150 kilometers from Copacabana to La Paz we had around 80 kilometers of riding where we rarely lost sight of the lake. We even had a ferry crossing over the ‘Estrecho de Tiquina’ (Tiquina Strait), which allowed us to ride a bit on the north side of the big and beautiful Titicaca.
            The ferry was only a short trip lasting about 15 minutes and costing 5 bolivianos (less than one U.S. dollar) on a car ferry made of wood, and it was actually a very nice experience. ***There are tons of these ferries and all of them are privately owned. The dudes operating our ferry with a 40-horsepower outboard motor are definitely leading a pretty laid-back lifestyle. Back and forth they go, day in and day out.***
            While we were waiting for a car to arrive so that the ferry would cross, which was actually quite quick, we were able to enjoy some local cuisine. ***I destroyed some empanadas and papas rellenas that could definitely rival anything in Colombia. What’s more is that the ladies down here know how to make some salsa comparable to that of Colombia or even the land of delicious salsas, Mexico! The best part about these fried delicacies is that you can fill yourself on them for less than one U.S. dollar! Boom-bam!***
            After the ferry we climbed a bit on the other side of the lake, but after a short while we were flying down the flat road toward La Paz. The only thing that kept us at a 120-something kilometer day was a little rainstorm that finally caught up to us about 30 kilometers outside of La Paz. We ended up crashing at some little Bolivian ghost-town hospital after asking a number of people what our options were for camping. It was not too easy finding a secure place to camp this night, but there is always an option. Even if people turn you down, you just have to keep asking around. There is always somebody willing to help you out, even if you do need to twist their arm…
            After this short two-day stint we arrived in La Paz yesterday and are holed up in another cheap hotel. Since we are probably not going to have many opportunities for comfort in coming days due to the route we have chosen, a hotel seems to be a good investment. No matter, it is quite nice to have a little more privacy and comfort while we are here in such a large city of over 875,000 inhabitants (metro area: over 2,300,000).
            La Paz is currently a city with a little action. When Matt and I arrived yesterday we were told to watch which direction we took for there were a number of demonstrations and roads being blocked. Apparently there was an issue with Bolivian police putting down a demonstration over a highway that has been proposed to run through and indigenous land reserve in the jungle. Somebody was shot (and some people are saying numbers of people are or were being hurt or killed) and now there are constant roadblocks and marches here in La Paz. For more information on this story here are a couple of articles:
            We rode in with the sound of fireworks, demonstrations, marches, and riot police at the ready, and will probably be able to enjoy these things until we leave tomorrow or Friday. I guess that yesterday President Evo Morales already denounced any police violence that happened, has ordered an investigation into it, and has agreed to stop any work on this highway through the reserve, but the marches continue.
            Don’t get me wrong. La Paz is really a solid spot, even with the political movements happening right now. It’s been enjoyable, especially in the varieties of street food. Matt and I traditionally stroll the streets in the evening whenever we are in a city, searching for the cheapest and greasiest grub we can find. La Paz has a lot to offer in the ways of burgers, salchipapas (hotdogs sliced with French fries), sausages, breads, sweets, and a variety of other cheap and delicious items. You can actually get a 215 ml soda of name brand for about 14 cents and a national brand for 10 cents! When was that last time we saw those prices in the states? The food scene is great and so are the food vendors. There are always a variety of personalities selling the cheap stuff out there. I have to say, scraping for cheap food deals by foot is a great way to get to know a city.
             I think we will enjoy the time we have left here, whether we stick around tomorrow or not. There is a ton to see (San Pedro prison, the witch market, and a number of museums). If we get bored of searching for the right street meat or just need some good people watching, I guess we can just go watch another fun little revolutionary band playing in the center at night. It sounds like there will be some movement for a little while yet here. Oooh La Paz!