Back to La Paz
After a busy evening, and morning, trying to organize my belongings, I went down to breakfast and just had a cup of tea. When I stepped into the lobby, Paola was already there. I checked out of the hotel and was ready to go. It is a tiny airport. Paola went to check me in so I had nothing to do but wait. As I said, I hardly had to lift a finger as everything was done for me. Paola told me that the flight would be about 30 minutes late so we just sat and chatted for a while. Paola gave me her e-mail and home address. I told her I would send her some vegetarian magazines. It was finally time to say good by. I felt sad to say adios to Paola. She is a wonderful guide and I hoped we would maintain contact in the future. Not much of a security check and I did have to go up the plane stairs trying to carry my hand luggage. I was seated close to the front and on the aisle so I was happy. The flight was short and soon I was arriving in La Paz. It was another very long walk from the plane to the airport entrance.
As I walked into the airport, I saw someone holding a card with my name. The manager of the La Paz company met me and took me to my hotel, Casa Grande. The hotel was in a section of the city called, Calacota. Although this area was in a much wealthier part of La Paz, it was also much further away from the market places. I had wanted to make one last trip to the Witches Market but it didn’t look like I was going to get there. The manager, Javier told me that there was a strike going on and it might even be a problem getting to the airport. No public transport was running and evidently, they block areas of the downtown. I checked into the hotel and it was beautiful. The area is a bit lower in elevation than the rest of La Paz so that was good but after two weeks, I think I was getting acclimated – just in time to leave! The hotel is only about two years old and is quite modern with free pool, sauna, jacuzzi. Of course, I didn’t bring a swim suit but I decided to treat myself and have a massage in the spa later that afternoon. The hotel staff was very friendly and all spoke English. After six hotels, this one had everything that made my short stay fantastic. Unfortunately, I was leaving at 12 midnight to take my flight to Bogota and then on to San Diego.
Javier said he was taking me around to see the area and also stop for lunch. Since we weren’t able to go to the Witches Market, he would see if there were any shops in the area where I could buy a few gifts. We went to a little Bolivian handmade craft shop and I found several interesting things to buy for my grandson. I was trying to use up my Bolivian money so I didn’t have much left after that shopping trip. Javier then took me to a local market before we went back. He lived around there and knew some of the market venders so I was able to take a few photos without any problems.
After returning to the hotel, I went to the restaurant to order lunch. It was a lovely room and very few people were there. I hadn’t eaten much the whole day so decided to splurge and have shrimp salad. They brought a wonderful bread basket with all kinds of interesting bread sticks and rolls along with olive oil. It was so nice to have soft and tasty bread. My main entree arrived and the shrimp salad was delicious. I even had a fruit smoothie and that was really good. I didn’t get dessert but they brought chocolate candies as a treat. All in all, the best meal I ate in Bolivia! I returned to my room to rest. I went for my massage a few hours later and it was great! Now all I had to do was organize my luggage and get ready to leave at 12pm.
Javier and driver picked me up on time and we drove to the airport – no problems on the way. There was a huge long line so Javier stood in line for me until he was almost at the check-in desk. I appreciated his considerate and kind manner. Finally, we said good by and I went through security and waited for the plane’s arrival. I was happy to be on my way back home but I still had an 8 hour layover in Bogota, Columbia.
Needless, to say I made it through the layover and about 7 hours later was back in Los Angeles. I met my driver and was home in San Diego in good time.
I have to say that this was a difficult and arduous journey. I never expected the altitude to have such an effect on me. I am just glad that I had prescription medication and that it helped most of the time. Lack of energy was really the biggest problem and probably curtailed a lot of walking and exploration that I, otherwise would have enjoyed. Waking up during the night and not being able to breath was terrifying and ruined several nights of sleep. In spite of all the physical problems, I am glad that I experienced Bolivia and all that it had to offer.
Bolivia is a showcase of South Americas’s dramatic landscapes. I feel fortunate to have seen these astonishing and exotic iconic sights. The starkness of the salt flats, ancient Incan trails found near Lake Titicaca, mystical desert terrain, towering volcanic peaks and the luminescent lagoons were a part of of making Bolivia unforgettable.
The country’s cultural diversity and ethnic make-up are equally fascinating. Indigenous traditions that reach as far back as the arrival of the Spanish, continue to have an effect on the nation’s religion, language and future economic developments. From a personal point of view, I found the Indigenous people for the most part unfriendly and unwelcoming. In contrast, the younger generation was a lot more open and amiable. My guides and drivers all proved to be kind, considerate and true representatives of the modern face of Bolivia. I want to give special thanks to the Enchanting Travel Company for working hard behind the scenes to make my trip a memorable experience!
Thanks to everyone who read my blog and enjoyed the photos. I appreciate your interest! Stay tuned for the next travel adventure!