A quick update on how the rest of Thursday went. Basically we were able to meet our friend Carla for lunch. She was waiting for us at a theater on the main avenue in La Paz. We went to a restaurant called “Dumbo” (yes, that Dumbo) and had a nice time talking, showing pictures, eating, etc.
After an hour or two we walked to the main plaza in La Paz. It was a very nice place … a bit quieter than most of the streets in the city, which are bustling with pedestrians, cholas selling their wares, buses whizzing by with kids screaming the destination and fare price, etc. There were lots of people, but no vendors allowed on the main part of the plaza. And there were pigeons. TONS of pigeons. Enough to cover the entire plaza, practically. We enjoyed watching children chase the pigeons, jumping to scare them into abrupt flight. One enterprising fellow even brought a remote-controlled car to drive around the pigeons. We also enjoyed watching a couple boys who would ride belly-down on a skateboard on one of the streets adjacent to the plaza. They did this over and over and over. I never knew there were so many ways to use a skateboard. Who needs complicated computerized toys?
We wanted to visit the historic church near the plaza, but it was apparently closed. The national museum of art on the corner was also closed. So we decided to walk several blocks to find the Museum of Ethnology and Folklore, which is supposed to be really good. But we found a computer printout informing us it was closed until February. We were tired and didn’t have enough money left for a bus, so we decided to walk home… on our way we passed the museum “tambo kirkincha” which is also supposed to be good, but it cost 1B. And we didn’t have 1 B.
Eventually we made it home, extremely tired and light-headed. We tried to take a 2-hour nap (I never really fell asleep, but it was still nice). Later we went out and found a restaurant to eat dinner, and we asked for mate de coca. Not only did they have it, they had the best kind… made only with boiled water and straight coca leaves. (Other kinds come in a teabag and the coca is one ingredient among many) This mate made a big difference for me, it really cleared my headache and took away the symptoms of altitude sickness. So we got another round.
All in all, we didn’t accomplish a whole lot our first day in La Paz… but we never expected to. Not only did we have to acclimate to the altitude, we also had to acclimate to all the walking. We do a bit from our apartment in Ferguson, but not near as much as we’ll be doing these four weeks.