Due to one reason or another (see post: Death Road + A Night in Bolivian Hospital), my time in La Paz was extended somewhat, so I managed to see rather a lot of it. Although it is often slated for being one of the least cultural stops on a tour of South America, it is certainly not lacking a rather niche beauty and charm which I was certainly touched by. Positioned effectively in a mountain range, it boasts some spectacular vistas of many different colours and styles of buildings interspersed with jagged rock faces, steep drops and endless winding streets.
Not only do they wear a good 3 or 4 skirts to maximise their child-bearing hips for the gents (competition amongst Bolivians is apparently a big thing – lots of kids is v important to keep business within families), the Cholitas wear top hats. In the late 19th century, when rich Europeans wearing top hats began to capitalise on the mining in Bolivia, the fashionable piece was bought in bulk to sell to Bolivian men to follow the trend. Unfortunately, the European top hats were rather too small for the thick set Bolivian men. Let the with an excess thousands of ill-fitting hats, the buyers decided to market the hats to Bolivian women, leading them to believe them to be the height of fashion amongst European laydeez.
They also now serve as a sort of traffic light – if worn straight, the wearer is married or taken; if tilted, the Cholita is on the market, and can dare to lift her many skirts above ankle level to flirt with da boyz.
The cornish-pasty looking things above are Saltenas – a kind of smaller, sweeter cornish pasty – sweet pastry stuffed with either chicken or ‘meat’. This Bolivian staple, although not to everyone’s taste, is not only perfect hangover food, but is probably also responsible for the rather rounded nature of the Cholitas. Yum yum yum.
Being a capital city, La Paz has a v eclectic range of international restaurants. I spent enough time there, I should know. This is La Cueva – standard Mexican with lolz skulls, tequila bottles and sombreros hanging from anywhere possible We spent two last suppers here… 1st visit: The night before Death Road 2nd visit: The night before Blantle climbed 6,000m Huayna Potosi mountain, whilst I had a cracked rib and sprained ankle from Death Road
Little Italy has genuinely some of the best pasta I’ve ever tasted (outside of Italy) Oliver’s Tavern – the biggest sausage sandwich I have ever seen The Star of India is pretty much just a damn good curry with loads of chick and rubbish naan bread The Steakhouse – Jack Daniel’s steak – they set the massive block of steak alight in a pan at your table
All, however, were blown out of the water by Gustu, the restaurant opened by Michelin-starred chef of World No. 1 Restaurant Noma in Copenhagen. Deserves its own post so it’s got one.
Holds a collection of paintings depicting Saint Francis’s story, which would have little place in Rome but which are granted a whole gallery here.
ZEBRA ROAD CROSSINGS (I love these guys)
Fed up of the rather dangerous habits of La Pazian drivers, a group of locals dress up daily as zebras and March into the road with lollipop-style signs to stop cars and allow pedestrians to cross safely. What babes.
THE WITCHES MARKET
Vindi a mi dust – the witches worship the Pacha Mama (Mother Earth) whose powers can do anything from making people fall in love with you to putting your in-laws six feet under
Paddy’s Day at The Wild Rover hostel. It was fun. Very Irish-pubby. Very, very uncultured.