On my last day in La Paz I went on a walking tour of the city in order to learn more about the history, social issues and customs of the different parts of the town.

The tour started at Plaza San Pedro where the famous prison is located. It’s not much to look at from the outside but it reminded me of the remarkable book I read called Marching Powder about an English backpacker thrown in prison for trafficking cocaine – worth a read!

From there we headed up to El Alto (by taxi, no way was I walking all the way up there!) where my guide Alejandro told me that El Alto is considered the Aymara capital of South America. The Aymarans were a pre-inca civilisation that lived in the Lake Titicaca area. They are said to be a proud people and are trying to improve their way of life however their efforts at times hindered by the government.

We visited the contemporary art gallery, which was quite interesting, and then began the descent into La Paz. We walked through the neighbourhoods perched high up the valley and it was amazing to see how they build their houses on the steep slopes.

We then caught one of the local buses, which looks like a school bus from the 60s, painted in bright colours and upholstered on the inside – very cool! The bus wound down through the street to the area of the city where the black market is located. Here you can buy absolutely everything, we saw DVDs, flowers, fruit, dried meat and many more weird and wonderful things (no livers unfortunately, I think I need a new one!)

Just a few of the 5000 different varetes of potato grown in South America.

It was so interesting to learn more about this amazing city and gain an understanding of the dynamics of the people of the city. I’d highly recommend the tour (www.lapazonfoot.com) and ask for Alejando.

I know there is just so much more that I saw and did in La Paz but I just can’t get it all written down, but take my word for it, it is an amazing city and if you can handle the altitude, the steep streets and the noise then you’ll just love it too!

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