Originally when I’d booked the trip, my flight back from Uyuni to La Paz was scheduled for 9:35a, which would allow me to sleep in slightly, and still get to La Paz in time to have a nice relaxing day to see the city. Unfortunately, once again, Amaszonas had other ideas. Points to them for communications, but 48 hours before my flight I got an email that the flight had been moved to 6:45am. Are you KIDDING me people? UGH.
This meant instead of getting breakfast and leaving for the airport at the sane hour of 7:45 or so, I would have to leave for the airport no later than 5am. Yes, this meant another 4:15am wakeup call. UGH.
I went out front at 5:15a as agreed with my driver, and he was there…sleeping in his car….with heavy metal music blaring. I was slightly disturbed, but after knocking on the windows to wake him up, we had a safe 30-40 minute drive to the airport. All the stars were out, and it was gorgeous in the complete darkness.
There was already quite a long queue to check in which took 15 minutes or so in the semi-open air terminal, and I was stuck in the back of the plane this time. No big deal. The problem was, after security, we were in a waiting room that was semi-open to the elements and it was -5C outside. It was absolutely freezing, and I hadn’t brought a jacket. I sat hunched up in a little ball for about 30 minutes and ran for the plane the minute they let us board. There was absolutely zero to see or do in the airport, except freeze and wait for the plane.
Amaszonas flight 301
Uyuni, Bolivia (UYU) to La Paz, Bolivia (LPB)
Depart 6:45, Arrive 7:35, Flight Time 50 minutes
Canadair CRJ-200, Registration CP-2733, Manufactured 1998, Seat 11D
This flight was completely full, and I had the pleasure of an overly chatty Indian seatmate from Mumbai who insisted on talking for the entire 50 minutes. Even when I put in my earbuds, he prattled on and on. Ugh. Not at this hour, please. Impressively, for a full flight of 50 people and only 40 minutes in the air, the flight attendants made two full passes with drinks. I was impressed! The Coke Zero was the only thing keeping me going.
Landed in La Paz right on time, but there was one problem. It was rush hour, and it took nearly 90 minutes to get to the Radisson. Fortunately I knew the fair price this time, and the taxi driver was happy to accept it. Got to the hotel just after 9, but my room wasn’t ready yet…so they invited me to go up to the executive lounge for breakfast. Well, that was nice! Had a small breakfast, and by the time I was done my room was ready.
They’d upgraded me to the executive floor for some reason, which was slightly nicer in furnishings than my previous room. I collapsed on the bed, and caught an hour nap to try and feel somewhat human.
After I woke up, I headed out to walk the city. My first stop was the office of Crillon Tours, where I had to pay for my trip to Lake Titicaca the next day. The walk there was about 15 minutes, and it was a good chance to watch the city going about its business on a week day. There was, once again, nearly no English spoken in the office when I got there, but eventually I found the person I needed, got the tour paid by credit card, and I was off to walk some more.
I was headed to the old part of the city where some colonial buildings still stood, but on the way I ran into a group of…zebras? I have no idea what this was all about….
Just ten minutes further along, I ran into a chain gang of prisoners doing some hard manual labour repairing a road. And being supervised by….a police dog? I was beginning to wonder about Bolivians and animal costumes….
Finally, after a 20 minute walk uphill, and stopping frequently to catch my breath, I reached Calle Jaen, where some old colonial buildings stood. The streets were narrow, and the angle of the sun made it hard to get a good pic, but this was my best attempt:
I kept walking back through the city, and my next stop was the Mercado de las Brujas – the witches’ market. You could by all sorts of interesting “ingredients here” including dried llama fetuses. Supposedly when you’re building a new building, be it a house, office, or whatever, you bury one of these dried llama fetuses in the foundation for good luck. Go figure….
By this point it was just after noon, and I was beginning to get really hungry. I checked TripAdvisor, and in the area it recommended Sabor Cubano – a Cuban restaurant. I had a cuban sandwich and a couple of mojitos, and it was absolutely delicious. It was SO good I considered a second sandwich…but behaved. It was empty when I arrived there, but by the time I left around 130 it was maybe half full.
Wandered the city for another two hours or so after lunch, just taking in random sites, with random coffee breaks along the way. By 4pm I was exhausted, and collapsed back at the hotel to catch up on the blog, etc. Three straight nights of barely five hours of sleep had caught up with me, and I was fading fast. Plus, I’d hoped the Titicaca tour the next day would leave at a sane hour, but nope…they were going to pick me up at 6:30am. Ugh, another pre-6am wakeup. I relaxed for a bit, and enjoyed the gorgeous views of the city from my room:
There was still a bit of daylight left, so I decided to wander the area near my hotel. Came across a group doing Capoeira which was fun to watch for a bit:
…and President Evo is building a better Bolivia for all!
I relaxed a bit more, and then when it opened at 6pm I hit the executive lounge for what I hoped would be a glass or two of wine. Nope, no wine….odd….it was water, and coffee. Strange. I did a bit of email, and then headed out to a place I’d seen called Swiss Fondue for dinner. It was odd….I had heard tons of German and French spoken during the trip, and after asking several people they were all Swiss. I have no idea why the Swiss apparently have such a thing for Bolivia, but also…they seem to have lots of restaurants there too. Go figure.
Earlier in the day I’d looked for another restaurant mentioned on TripAdvisor called La Quebecoise…only because I was curious 1) what a Quebecois restaurant was really like….was it poutine? and 2) WTF was it doing in Bolivia. Unfortunately, it appears it had gone out of business.
So…Swiss Fondue. Got there, and once again, only one table was taken…by a Singaporean couple. Maybe it was low season in Bolivia? Anyways, went back and forth with the waiter in broken english and spanish for a bit, before the owner took over….who was francophone swiss, and things went uphill from there. Moved to a high/bar table near the window, and ordered a beer. They’d just gotten in some local microbrew, and it was surprisingly good with some raclette cheese melted on toast:
Had a really nice chat on and off with the owner after the appetizer, and figured while I was in Bolivia I had to go for it….I had to have llama fondue, lol. Everything came…llama and chicken and it was absolutely delicious!
During dinner, I got an email from work that there was some urgent work to be done, so I decided to head up to the hotel restaurant and grab a 1/2 bottle of wine for while I worked. I regretted not trying the hotel restaurant, because it had an amazing view of the city:
Bit of work, finally to bed around midnight, and the 545a alarm was coming soon for a daytrip to Lake Titicaca….