La Paz

This city gets a really bad rep but it’s actually not so bad. It has one of the most beautiful city skylines I’ve ever seen. La Paz is spread out in a deep valley. It’s surrounded by a beautiful mountain range with hints of volcanic red and topped by the massive, snowcapped, triple-peaked Illimani mountain. When the sun sets in the city, the sky turns shades of red and blue behind the colorful mountains. I unfortunately don’t have a picture of it, but this was twilight.

We did a 3 hour walking tour with the Red Cap and it was pretty interesting. We learned about Bolivia’s culture, history, and even current day’s politics.

A lot of the culture can be seen from the picture below from the Witches’ Market.

   (First of all, these booths are not very “spiritual” compared to some of the other ones in the Witches’ Market.) Notice in the first booth on the left there are a couple dangling animal corpses? Those are dried llama fetuses and dried frogs used for Aymara rituals. When people begin construction on a new building, they bury these dried llama fetuses on site as offerings to the goddess Pachamama. They believe this will bring them safety and luck to the business. I guess this is as crazy as feng shui. Also, they don’t go out killing llamas for their fetuses- they get them from llamas slaughtered for food or if they die from natural causes.

Secondly, notice the attire of the lady in the foreground that I accidentally took a picture of. This is traditional Andean attire I’ve been wondering about since seeing it in Peru. Apparently, this is how the attire came about: they wear these skirts that poof out at the hips because Aymara men like large hips for child bearing and the skirt covers their calves because the men thought calves were super sexy. The bowler hats were something the European salesmapen were trying to get rid because they were missized so they told the women they were fashionable at the time (a hundred years ago). Also, if the bowler hat is straight up, it means they’re married and if it’s tilted, it means they’re single.

The Aymara also practice the same principles the colonizing Spanish taught everyone: don’t be lazy, don’t lie, and don’t steal. The same principles we saw from the Uros people and from Cusco. The Spanish changed the original Inca principles to this because they were trying to get the Inca people to show them where the gold was. Dirty.

For dinner, we decided to check out this Vietnamese restaurant, Vinapho. I’ve been craving Pho since for some time and this was ranked one of the top 10 restaurants in La Paz on TripAdivsor so I decided to check it out. It was really weird. They started us off with a complimentary soup that was kind of like egg drop soup. The summer rolls were really thin and…limp. I don’t even think they had basil in it. The pho had a lot of ginger, and it was missing basil, lime, jalapeño, and hoisin sauce! But somehow it was still  comforting and I guess a decent bowl of noodle soup. In the restaurant was also Vietnamese communist propaganda! There was a huge image of an American soldier being captured and a summary of them winning the war. I was kind of offended and a bit blown off guard. La Paz is a pretty diverse city with people from all over the world, why post something so political out in the open like that? I didn’t see a single Vietnamese person working there either.

We walked a lot of the historical and city center today and we also saw a lot of the residential side of the city from the gondola to the top.

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