|Had wanted to sleep for as long as possible, but was awakened at 8am by the rudely constant "beep beep!!" of the traffic outside our window. Great!! Alice, from Zurich, Switzerland, was interested in doing a bus tour with me, so we both went down to the travel agency attached to the hostel to get a ticket. Found out that it left that 8:30am, not 9:30am as I had thought. So we got a ticket for the afternoon instead, and I was glad that I would be able to see some of La Paz before taking a night bus further south.
Then went to have breakfast, where Sara was also eating. Forgot to mention, just as I was about to go to sleep the night before, who should pop her head around our door, but Sara? All the foreigners on the bus were reunited in the same room! I didn't end up doing anything too useful in the space of time between breakfast and lunch (about two hours), mainly sitting in the internet cafe, and failing to replace my gloves.
Ah, my poor gloves, I liked them so much!! Was very pleased to have come across them back in Cusco, the kind with the fingers cut, and with the option of throwing a mitten cap over them. And they were in the Andean style, in a nice shade of grey, and the baby alpaca wool was so soft!! The left hand one was determined not to leave its home city however, and I had lost it in my last night in Cusco - as is my tradition to loose items of clothings when out on the town.
Had a very rushed lunch with Sara, but at a very nice venue - almost like an English pub! Then ran off to meet Alice for our afternoon tour, with five minutes to spare as we sat on the top of the double decker bus. We were both so excited, haven't been on a double decker for a while! Almost like London! Also that part of La Paz was quite different I was used to around the hostel, with taller and shinier glass buildings.
In fact, the tour ("Touching the Sky" - as La Paz is the highest capital city in the world) was very proud of the "skyscapers" in the city. Whenever it can, it would comment on the "twenty story" building etc. The recorded commentary was so-and-so, sometimes not very loud, sometimes shaken due to a bumpy stretch of the road, and a lot of the times, the commentary was cut short, cos the guide downstairs decided to switch the audio onto another topic. But still, I was glad that we managed to see highlights of the city, with someone giving me the information straight into my ear!
The tour consisted of two parts - the "South circuit, and the Valley of the Moon", and then followed by the "Downtown circuit". The first one took about two hours, and we were brought to see some suburbs of La Paz, some parts of which, "you would not find poor people". Apparently the further south one lives, and the lower one's building, the richer you are. The commentary delightedly advised us to look around and admire the modern sleek architecture of these rich homes. I was most looking forward to the Valley of the Moon. If I have had time, I would have prefered to trek there and have a good walk around. Because of the road, I didn't quite catch everything she said about how these "wild rugged formations, artistically eroded" came about. It had something to do with the Lake Titicaca, I believe, but don't quote me on that!
We were given half an hour to disembark and have a walk around. It was here that we discovered there was a guide on the bus, Grace, who offered to give us a tour there for half an hour. Almost all passengers wanted to go, but Grace set off at a fast pace even before everyone had paid the entrance fee. So only the people at the front had the benefit of the tour, but even towards the end this changed into general chatter. At last we managed to take some better photos - we found out it was super hard composing our photos well on a moving bus!
I was a little more anxious with the second part of the tour, due to having to catch a bus shortly afterwards. Being in the downtown, there was of course more traffic - especially in the area around the hotel! But still, managed to pick up some useful information. When we arrived into the "Killi Killi Mirador" (pronounced "ke-ye", not kill!), we had ten minutes to have a walk around and take some pictures. It was at this point that both Alice and my cameras decided their batteries would die. But it was a fantastic view point, on a little hill towards the northern side of the city, where we had a 360º panoramic view of the entire La Paz city. After that, the bus passed through the commercial, governmental and monumental parts of the city.
We were allowed to get off twenty minutes before the very end of the tour, to be closer to the hotel area, and to give me a little more time to get myself sorted out before catching my bus. We said our goodbyes, both happy to have gotten a different perspective of La Paz during our short stay there.