Tuesday, 14 June 2011

La Paz (2)

La Paz (Continued)

The politcal centre is the Plaza de Murillo, bounded on one side by the Assembly (or parliament building), and on another by the Presidential Palace and Cathedral. The Plaza is a popular spot for the South American sport of sitting, and the paceña (i.e. from La Paz) sport of feeding pigeons, (which are all obese and probably diabetic). Just up and left is one of the remains of colonial times, Calle Jaen (somehow preserved in very good condition, with typical Andalusian pavement designs still present), which holds a number of museums including the house of Murrillo, one of the leaders of the failed independence revolt against the Spanish in 1809. A bit touristy though, this street, with arty shops everywhere. Could be Totnes. Or Hebden Bridge.
The main attraction of La Paz, though, has to be the street markets, even for those who don't enjoy the retail experience. They are everywhere, crammed with people, selling everything, absolutely everything, full of undoubtedly Chinese-produced fake branded goods (favourite brands seeming to be Levis, North Face, Adidas, Wrangler, Puma, Nike - what a globalised world we live in), foodstuffs of all kinds, entire shops or stalls devoted solely to a single product: door fittings, padlocks, gaudy cholita skirts, or what appeared to be popcorn, this latter sold from gigantic bags about three times the size of the average Bolivian. It was really too difficult to take pictures and anyway I doubt these would have given the experience justice. One wonders how all the stuff is cleared away at nights.

La Cuidad de Nuestra Señora de La Paz, to give it its full name - such a amazing, colourful, vibrant place, and (touch wood) so far no experience of the troubles and scams described in the Lonely Paranoia - sorry, Lonely Planet - guide. It was worth leaving the truck in Oruro a couple of days early to experience it. Oh, and I should consider myself fortunate - the bus in which I travelled was involved in only one road traffic accident during the 4 hour, 20 Bolivianos (£2.00) journey.

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