After the somewhat white knuckle ride from Isla del Sol, J-P and I arrived into La Paz. There’s some debate as to whether it is actually the Capital city or not, however it appears that Sucre, as home of the judiciary holds that designation presently.
Bolivia is the poorest country in South America and the drive through the outskirts into the centre however evidence of that. A lot of unpaved roads, unfinished bridges and buildings showing that the country has a long way to go compared to places like Lima.
La Paz is also a very polluted city, walking out, you can taste the vehicle exhaust fumes. That took a dampener off walking around, however we explored non-the-less.
Our base was a small boutique hotel in the converted Panamanian Consulate, named El Consulado. It was a wonderful building with bags of character and loved the fact there was no television in the room at all. The staff were friendly, but the wifi a bit temperamental. The staff were generally ok, however it was a solid 2*/3* type of place, albeit far more interesting than you average Premier Inn.
La Paz was also the highest point of the trip, being located between 3,700m and 4,100m above sea level. It’s a very hilly city, however there’s a large network of cable cars, criss-crossing the city, as part of their public transport network.
Newer office blocks jostle next to older, colonial style buildings, a large number of which had been converted to government use, and looked stunning inside, although we didn’t have time for a look around.
The other interesting (and positive) observation that I had is I saw very few western brands. Save for a single Burger King and the ubiquitous Visa / MasterCard signs, very few recognisable western logos of any kind were evident in the city. I guess this shows how relatively undeveloped it is as a country.
Uber is in the city and I tried to use it twice, both unsuccessfully. Once to go to dinner, a driver did accept the job, however the wait time went from ten to fifteen minutes and after fifteen hadn’t changed, so cancelled. The second time was in the morning to go to the airport and no cars were available, so we took a cab.
We didn’t really get a chance to explore the gay nightlife however did locate a really good Mexican restaurant for dinner. I’m a bit of a aficionado for Mexican food, having spent a lot of time in Texas, and Kalakitas didn’t disappoint, especially the margaritas!
The next morning, we left for the LATAM flight back to Lima and jumped in a taxi (due to no Ubers) for the thirty minute journey to El Alto International Airport – the highest international airport in the world. Located at 4,100m, both Boeing and Airbus send their new aircraft there to see how they perform at high altitude for take-off and landing.
I ended up filming the *long* take-off role from what was a 2/3 full A320, heading on a ninety minute sector.
Landing in Lima, I was connecting directly on to Miami with LATAM so said goodbye to J-P who was remaining in Lima for a few more days, before heading off to the Amazon.
Lima is adequate as a oneworld hub, save for one key issue, if you’re flying LATAM, there is no lounge access to the airport run lounges. Apparently they are renegotiating with the airport so no matter what class of service, nor colour your frequent flier card is, you’re stuck outside. Priority Pass will admit you. However they will give you a $20 food and drink voucher, and two hour wifi voucher.
After a short connection it was time to board and head over to Miami.