Route/Last location

Friday, September 25, 2009

La Paz

I'm not a fan of poluted, noisy, traffic-congested big cities, as many of you must have noticed by now. So what brings me to La Paz and makes me stay here 4 days?

Well, first the city itself is located at 3600m above sea level and I'm curious to see how is it possible to build such a big city at such a high altitude. There are a few monuments that are worth a visit, but I'm kind of tired of beautiful churches, by now... Another reason for the visit is doing the world famous Corrida de la Muerte, a downhill mountain bike circuit, via what used to be the main road between two important cities in the Andes. The name reflects the amount of people that have died over the years in this road. In our days it's mostly a touristic attraction for adrenaline adventurers that want to defye gravity and move almost 3000m in altitude in about 4 hours. There are also some 6000m mountains that can be climbed even by people with little experience and I was planning to climb Huyani Potosi, the smalest of them all. It's a 2-3 day adventure.

I asked Emma, whom i had met in Santa Cruz to book me a place at her hostel. We met in that evening for dinner. It's always nice to have someone to show us the city or at least to show us the nice places to eat! Emma is a studying to become a Medical Doctor in Oxford, but for the last few months she's been doing volunteer work both in Nicaragua and here in La Paz. She's really into it and I admire her for what she has been doing. And she is a great company.

On my first day in La Paz I woke up with some news that make me decide to end the trip earlier and go back to Portugal within a week time. On the time I have left I have time to do La corrida de la muerte, go to lake Titicaca and then go back to Chile, visit Antofagasta and finally fly to Santiago and from there back to Europe. So this first day is spent taking care of all the bureaucracies, changing ticket dates and so and so on. One thing, if you ever buy a round the world ticket from Oneworld, make sure your first flight is with British Airways. My first flight was with Finnair and that makes them responsible for any ticket changes you might need to do (at least everytime one calls British Airways that's what they tell us!) . Well, Finnair does not fly to south america so it was a crasy race against time, some telephone fights with Finland and in the end a visit to the nearest Lan office solved it all. Instead of flying to Portugal I had to fly to Vigo, which is quite close to the border, so that wasn't such a problem. And I'll arrive still in time for a friend's wedding! Which means meeting half of my friends while still jet lagged...Lets see how it goes!

La corrida de la muerte

I decided to do the death race with the agency from my hostel. I thought there wouldn't be many people doing it with them. Well, this was a mistake. A group of over 20 people with only 3 guides awaited me... At least the bike they gave me was good. The first part of the race was on a fantastic asfalt road, the perfect place to let ourselves go, but instead the stupid guides wanted to keep the group together and that made us stop every 3 or 4 minutes. I got tired of that and just passed the guide and enjoyed a nice downhill until the check point. Others that had been complayining about it followed me and in the end we were discussing with the guides that that was not what we paid for. Some people in the group actually wanted to move fast! They were three so they could split the group in 3 and everyone would still have fun. Specially on that asfalt road which was perfectly safe!
The dangerous part of the "race" comes when we reach the gravel road. This road goes around the mountains, there are no protective barriers, and stones and holes on the road make it a really adventure to combine speed with balance, always with one thing in our minds: one distraction and I end up at the end of the 1000m high cliff that's just at my left! Nevertheless it was really funny, adrenaline at its max and a terrible pain in the hands due to the strength I put in holding the bike to the road! 4h later we were done. The fastest guys all felt that we could have done it faster if they had allowed us, but, whatever, next time I'll follow the suggestions I was given by other people and pay a bit more to do it. I didn't fish around in different companies as I should have!

La Paz

The rest of my time in La Paz was spent walking around, climbing up and down (not easy at this altitude) taking some pictures of the amazing scenary in which this city was built. Remove all the cars and garbage from the city and I would love living here! I just love mountains!

Next stop in Lake Titicaca and La Isla del Sol. Emma decided to join me. This is great because I haven't been in the mood to talk to strangers lately. I guess I am getting the "almost over" mood...

1 comment:

Filha do Vento said...

Também fiz essa descida de bicicleta La Paz-Coroico. Fantástica, não é? Bikes optimas mesmo.
O meu grupo tinha 12 pessoas, uns que andavam mais depressa que outros, claro.. mas os guias (que eram 2) tentavam que todos pudessem ir a uma velocidade agradável... mas sem nunca serem ultrapassados, claro. Essa é uma das regras para os turistas cheios de testosterona não aumentarem as estatísticas do número de mortos naquela estrada em cada ano.
Já ia em 43.