La Paz – Wild Rover

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I previously mentioned that I stayed at the Wild Rover hostel while in La Paz which was absolutely fantastic! I’d recommend it to anyone but make sure you take with you a spare liver, because you’ll need it!

The guys that work there are all Irish and therefore know how to throw a good party – and party I did, almost every night. It was like being back at uni, with dress up nights (school disco being one of the memorable ones) hour of power (a shot of beer a minute for 60 minutes, although I had vodka instead – what a night!) and killer pool competitions (miss a shot, do a shot!)

Generally after the bar we’d head to one of the nearby clubs as a group (Blue House and Mongos were two of the notable ones) where the rest of the evening was made up of dancing like maniacs until very early in the morning.

I met so many great people and had some very fun times. My health and my ability to learn spanish the day after a big night definitely suffered but it was totally worth it!

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La Paz – The Solo Adventure Begins

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So the first thing I did as a solo traveller was to book into my first ever hostel. Thanks to my friend Nerida back home for suggesting the Wild Rover hostel, my time in La Paz would not have been the same if I hadn’t stayed at this amazing place (more on that later). The next thing I did was find a place to study Spanish. I planned to stay in La Paz for about a week in order to give me enough time to learn some basic Spanish as well as a chance to get out and about and see this amazingly diverse city. I began lessons at Pico Verde with the lovely Maria and did five lessons of two hours each. Maria was fantastic and I learned a lot although I wish I’d had a month to study so I could really gain a better understanding of the language, but hopefully I’ll be able to pick up more as I travel.

My lovely Spanish teacher Maria.

The rest of my time in La Paz I spent wandering around checking out the Witches´Market (which is famous for odd bits and pieces such as llama fetuses, which locals bury under their new house in order to bring good luck) and the other streets on both sides of the city.

I think La Paz is such an amazingly diverse city because of the great mix of old and new you can see around everyday. You notice businessmen and women dressed in designer jeans and high heels wandering the same streets as cholitas dressed in traditional skirts and bowler hats. There are also beautiful stores selling fancy brands right next to tiny street stalls selling anything from toilet paper to empanadas and saltenas (types of South American savory pastries) – I once saw a stall that sold only hole punches!

The faces you see here are all very different as well. Some people have darker skin, some look more Asian or Indian or native American, but all have great character and it’s interesting to see how they all fit into the social landscape.

One of the other interesting characters in La Paz are the shoe shine boys. They get around with all their equipment wearing ski masks, which make them look pretty scary, asking everyone who walks by if they’d like a shoe shine! I later found out that they wear the ski masks because they didn’t want people they socialise with to know that they were shoe shine boys, as it is quite a low standing job in Bolivia.

I didn´t really get any photos of the people unfortunately because many of them don´t appreciate having their photo taken by gringos.

The buildings in the main square of La Paz are quite spectacular and one day I was there while they had a ceremony for a visiting ambassador (at least that’s what I think it was for) where they had the military band all dressed up and singing and playing – they looked very impressive in their regalia – it really came across what a proud nation Bolivia is.

I was told many times before arriving in La Paz to be very careful as it can be a dangerous city, however I must say that I felt absolutely safe the entire time I was there and most of the time I was just wandering around by myself.

Of course you always have to be careful and I have heard some horror stories from other travellers but more often than not I was helped by the people of La Paz rather than hindered.

More on La Paz in my next post.

Hasta luego

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