Thursday, June 19, 2008

La Paz

We spent two days this week in the nation's capital of La Paz. After an early morning flight from Cocha- bamba, our group was met at the airport by a tour bus which took us to Tiahanacu, the pre-Incan archaeological site, where we toured the ruins and had lunch. Then we rode to La Paz itself, descending from the rim of the altiplano down into the bowl that holds the city, the Andean Cordillera brightly lit by the late afternoon sun. For some reason, we found ourselves lodging in yet another luxury hotel - on each of our excursions we have ended up with very comfortable accommodations in the most sublime of settings. In La Paz, we found ourselves in a beautiful, white-washed hotel pressed against the rock wall of a cliff overhanging a river. Though we were quite a distance from the center of town, the students didn't seem to mind, availing themselves of the heated pool and sauna on site at the hotel.
The next day we played tourists, visiting the Museo del Oro and the Museo de Instru- mentos Musicales. The highlight of these visits was a chance encounter with the contestants in the Miss Cholita La Paz pageant, who were happy to pose for pictures. For a change, we had middle eastern food for lunch, which was incredibly filling, and visited the witches' market and artesan shops around Sagarnaga. G. and I went shopping as well, and he was particularly pleased with the Tigger baby sling he found for his daughter in the market. We made a brief stop at the hotel to collect our bags before returning to the airport and the short flight "home" to Cochabamba. Personally, I was happy to escape the altitude of La Paz for the milder climes of the valley.

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