Once my headaches and nausea have gone I start to enjoy being in La Paz and settle in quickly. This is perhaps because its mountains remind me of Edinburgh, or because I have the feeling that I am meant to be here at this precise moment.
View of La Paz
My first trip out of the city is to see the Tihuanaco ruins. It takes about 2 hours to get there by minibus. I travel alongside locals exploring their country and tourists from Australia and Germany. The roads there are mostly smooth and it is a comfortable journey.
Once there, we walk around the ruins, which are still being dug up and we are told that a whole city and civilization still lies at the bottom of a hill we climb.
The lack of money in Bolivia means that the work that is needed to be done there is slow, and that it is foreign countries that lead the exploration of Tihuanaco and not Bolivia.
The highlight of the trip to Tihuanaco is seeing the huge Monolitos, which age and decay means that we cannot photograph. “They used to be in the city of La Paz” our tour guide tells us “where their faces and shoulders were shot off during fights in the street, so they were bought back to their home recently.” “Tihuanaco is one of the places that has been destroyed by every generation”.
One of the smaller monolitos
‘La Puerta del Sol’ (The Sun’s Door) was nearly taken to England by a lord but the war with Chile began so it was left behind. If it had been taken then it would be in the British Museum now.
Faces of leaders carved into the walls. Some say that some of the faces are of aliens.
My next trip out of the city is to Coroico in The Yungas. There are two roads that go there; the old one called ‘the death road’, so called because of the number of deaths by those who use it, and the new one. I travel there using the new road.
You can still use the old route I am told and tourists like cycling along it just to say they have done it, but people generally use the new route now. I go there during the Easter weekend so the roads are packed and it takes longer to secure transport there. We pass mountains covered by snow so the journey is a cold one. It pours down with rain the whole journey there and once we arrive so we are wet once we arrive at our hotel.
I join a group of tourists and travel with them to an animal sanctuary where we see different types of wild monkey roaming around alongside parrots and turtles. We are told to not look into the monkey’s eyes as they will assume a friendship and jump onto us and not to laugh at them showing our teeth as this means we want to fight with them. One of the monkeys still manages to jump and hug one of our group but she is relaxed and happy so nothing bad happens.
Our next trip is to the waterfalls, which are stunning to look at, but it is too cold to jump in. We return to La Paz the next day. There are no tickets left for any of the minivans so we go by minibus.