I really didn’t think I would like this city and wanted to get out before I had even arrived. After all I had heared so much bad stuff: about the chaos, muggings and dangerous taxis, about the dirt, the roughness and lack of attractions. If it wasn’t necessary to pass through La Paz on the way to many of Bolivias attractions I might have skipped it altogether – and missed out on so much!
The last couple of days have been crazy and full of contrasts, just like this huge city surrounded by snow-covered mountains. While in Lima I sometimes felt like I was the only tourist in town, La Paz is full of gringos and many of them have one main goal: to party! No wonder there is a whole bunch of insane party hostels. On my first night I almost ended up at the ‘Wild Rover’ – the most notorious of many which was later described to me as a never ending frat party including a seven minutes in heaven room and shots which are directly poured into the mouths of party-hungry backpackers. Luckily I was instantly put off by the high prices and drinking gringos blocking the corridor to the reception. A lot of people get sucked into the neverending party and manage to spend several days in the city without ever leaving the hostel. This is a shame, because if you give La Paz a chance it can be an amazing and surreal experience.
Party is defnitely a part of what makes the city, from its not-so-secret cocain bars to English pubs looking for gringos to serve strong beer and free shots, but it is by no means the end to its crazyness. Roaming the streets with its many markets where you can buy just about anything from car parts to lama fetusses is amazing and the mixture of typical bolivian cornershops and clutterd stores next to lovingly decorated mexican restaurants and cafes in bookshops that actually sell real coffe can be surreal. Emma, a chilled New Yorker and my new trekking buddy is shure that La Paz will become the next trendy city in a couple of years. At the moment though it is a werird mixture of people, places and attractions. Being suspended from a curch tower wearing a spiderman or hotdog costume is only one of the weird ideas Bolivians have come up with (and no I did not try this myself).
In which other city would you spend a sunday afternoon at the ‘Cholita Wrestling’ watching traditionally dressed bolivian ladies in bowler hats and layers of colourfull skirts beat up bad guys? It was incredible how entertaining the badly acted fights were and the audience went crazy while foam was sprayed, men in pink tiger underwear were thrown through the ring and kisses were forced on each male tourist in the audience. Needless to say that the lovely cholitas won each fight.
But even when you don’t spend money on crazy events the city holds a lot of surprises. Today I discovered a street were people sat with their old typewriters offering some kind of inexplicable typing service. To my german eyes it almost looked like performance art. I am curious what else this city holds in store and though I am excited to leave for a three day trek tomorrow I already look forward to discover more quirks and weird places once I get back…