Bolivia 5: via Oruro to La Paz

Nach der letzten Nacht im Hotel Girasol in Uyuni wurde uns klar, dass Karin nicht an der Höhenkrankheit litt, sondern dass es etwas anderes sein musste. Ausserdem hörten wir, dass die Lastwagenfahrer nach diesem Wochenende die Strassen dicht machen wollten. So fuhren wir ohne weitere Stops durch bis La Paz und hielten uns auch nicht länger in Oruro auf, denn diese Stadt machte keinen einladenden Eindruck. In La Paz gab es die hervorragende Clinica Alemana ( in der aber kein Wort Deutsch gesprochen wurde -zum Glück etwas Englisch) in der Karin schnell diagnostiziert wurde.La Paz wird uns wegen seiner interessanten Märkte unvergessen bleiben.

Due to the pending trucker strike announced for the following week, we decided to drive straight to La Paz via Oruro. Here Karin was diagnosed having both a bacterial as well as a parasite infection – fortunately Clinica Alemana has an in-house path lab and we left the clinic within 3 hours medication in hand. We found suitable accommodation in the Hotel Berlina (on Calle Illampu in Zona El Rosario)-which was the only hotel with a parking garage high enough to accommodate both our vehicles (2.50m approx.). This proved to be a blessing as we could leave our vehicles parked there while later making an excursion into the jungle. On top the hotel has a terrace which lends itself to photograph across the city – or fly a drone -which a Costarican visitor did, but promptly received a message not to overfly the government area!

It also was conveniently situated to visit various street markets and travel bureaus for arranging the jungle trip to Madidi and also to take a taxi to downtown to do a city tour on the Red Bus which included a short trip to the outskirts to see the moon landscape.

From the hotel rooftop restaurant we had a good view across the city. On a clear day the prominent peak of Mount Illimani (6439m) is visible which is snow-capped. Hotel Berlina is situated in an older part of the city and in walking distance we found good restaurants (Aunt Tia became a favourite stop), craft shops and also the indigenous witchcraft market (Mercado de Hechicería) selling potions, herbs and dried Llama fetuses. Basically anything can be bought in this area. The colourful cloths, bags, shoes, masks are a feast for the eyes and very typical.

La Paz is at a height of 3600m and walking the steep streets in our neighbourhood made us realise that we had not fully acclimatised to the altitude yet. Note: Sucre is the capital, but La Paz the largest city). The airport of La Paz is in El Alto, 400m higher than the city: arriving or leaving by plane is at 4000m, the highest large city in the world and many a traveller suffers altitude sickness on arrival. El Alto is also serviced by the Teleferico which we never had the time to take for a first-class aerial view of La Paz. However, we also witnessed the most polluted river passing right through La Paz with industrial waste and sewage.