Yesterday morning (Sunday June 6th) I took a bus from Puno, Peru to La Paz, Bolivia. At the border we all had to unload and walk across. However it was a big fiesta weekend and when we arrived at the Bolivian side of the border everyone was at the church marching around and signing the national anthem and other songs. So all the gringos from the several buses were all lined up outside of the closed immigration office waiting for the parade to get over. It finally did and we loaded back onto the bus and were on our way.
But here is my favorite part…
We drove 8 KMs down the road to the town of Copacabana, Bolivia where we had an our to get lunch and afterwards change buses. When we first arrived into town a guy hoped on board to collect the city tax for entering Copacabana. It was a one Boliviano tax so about 14 cents American. And all of the sudden all these tourist start freaking out and bitching to the poor tax collector guy. “We were not told about this.” “Were going to La Paz, we just won´t get out of the bus!” “We refuse to pay!” And they did. At least two girls flat our refused to pay. Other people were bitching about it and eventually paid. But it just pissed me off that these fucking tourists have no respect for the places they visit and can be such ignorant cheap assholes. I really hate other tourists a lot of the time. Oh yeah, and of course these people did not even attempt to speak spanish but blather about in english like everyone should understand them.
But that ugly part out of the way. Copacabana is a really cool town, even though I only saw a little bit of it. It is right on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca. I am definitely going to stop back there a couple days on my way back west.
The bus rolled into La Paz around 5pm and parked at a hotel and hostel somewhat near the center of town. I had a hostel picked out of my book near the center of town and figured that it was only about five blocks away or so from where I was. Right away a taxi driver asked me where I wanted to go and I told him and he quoted me two Bolivianos (about 25 cents), but I figured it was not very far and wanted to stretch my legs after being in the bus all day so I told him no thanks. I asked him which direction it was towards the Plaza San Francisco which was near where I wanted to go. He pointed me in the right direction and off I went. I was having a hard time figuring out where exactly I was on my map so I kept walking and asked a few more people where the Plaza de San Francisco was. They kept on pointing me all the same general directions. While I was walking I got to witness the end of the fiesta, Which meant lots of drunk people passed out on the sidewalks and even more drunk people all dressed up in nice clothes staggering around. It reminded me of one end of the night at one of the fraternity parties we used to have. But I kept walking and walking and tried to find myself on my map but when I did it never made sense because it looked like I was walking in the wrong direction. But I figured the local people must know where one of their own central plazas is, right? But apparently not. Eventually I ended up at the Plaza Sucre which I was able to easily locate on my map and figured out that instead of heading the four blocks north that I needed to go originally I had walked about 1 K east. So I had my bearings down at least and started the trek back towards the center of town. It was at about this point I had wished I had taken the taxi guy´s offer, but at this point I figured I set out on foot and I was sure as hell not going to give in a take a taxi now. I made it with little difficulty after that and made it to the hostel fine.
After resting up a bit I set out to wander the streets some more. It was pretty weird because I saw some people that were on the bus from Salta, Argentina to San Pedro, Chile with me walking around as well as some people that ate in the same restaurant as me the night before in Puno. They have lots of cool stuff for sale here though. Like basically any American CD you could want, all for only 10 Bolivianos (about $1.25) as well as any number of DVDs including movies that are still in the theaters now.
There are lots of hills here, the whole city is in one big canyon. It is hard work to just walk around too because La Paz is 4,000 meters high (13,123 feet). I am going to stay here a couple more days and then head east.