Sunday, May 30, 2010

La Paz, Bolivia

     We have spent the last few days in La Paz, Bolivia.  Claim to fame - highest capital city in the world, at 3600 meters above sea level.  Luckily this is a slightly lower elevation than lake Titicaca, so no problems with the elevation (climbing stairs is a chore, though).
     We find La Paz to be reasonably nice, by South American standards, but not full of historic buildings such as Quito or Cusco.  There is an interesting mix of odern high rise buildings ane crumbling adobe wrecks.  What you get, more or less, is a fairly prosperous city going about its business.
  We spent (at least part of) most days walking around, visiting the fruit and veg market, which was huge and very colorful with the locals in traditional dress.  We visited the Coca Museum, which was very interesting, and of course the artisan shopping areas.
     Our biggest score was on Saturday, when a shopkeeper told us there was a cultural event happening in the center of town.  We walked down there just after noon and found the main street lined with grandstands,  with a parade going on.  We got some seats, and were treated to a procession of costumed dancing groups being backed up by brass bands.  The costumes were quite varied and spectacular, and moany of the groups had about 200 members, some of the bands had up to 10 sousaphones.  We watched for about an hour, and the groups just kept coming.  We then wandered back to our hotel, the street was full of vendors selling food, drinks, and many other items.  Amazingly enough, we turned on the TV at 9PM, and the parade was still going!  Were the marchers just going around in circles, or were there really that many participants?
(We heard later there were 30,000 people in the parade!)
Next stop, the city of Sucre.


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