I’d love to tell you that I mean bad as in badass movie style bad girl, a rebel out to cause chaos in La Paz. Despite some flirtations with danger, the truth is a little less Hollywood.
During a week in La Paz I managed to avoid most of the usual tourist traps like the trudge up to the Kili Kili viewpoint of the city, or the climb up Huayna Potosi. I didn’t swot up on Coca leaf history, and I missed out on hanging out in Route 36 (what has to be one of the only clubs in the world to openly sell you a gram of coke to your table) and I didn’t party with a predominantly gringo crowd in the Blue House.
I didn’t visit any of the museums. I had wanted to check out the Coca Museum (Linares 906) and the Bolivian Musical Instruments Museum (Jaén 711) and the Museum of Ethnography and Folklore (Ingavi 916 esq. Jenaro Sajinés) but time just disappeared. I didn’t prioritise them. And I also missed out on others, such as Museo de Textiles Andinos and the National Museum of Art, the National Museum of Precious Metals and the National Museum of Archaeology.
But I did swing by the San Pedro prison, go out to some traditional peña and face paint up for a party where someone got stabbed. I went to the sketchy area of El Alto and watched Cholita Wrestling and locals dancing and playing competitive table football. I got a pretty, beaded lulu knotted into in my hair, I had customised rain trousers made for 80Bs. and I went shopping for woollen dresses and presents and a travel guitar. I queried the purpose of dried llama foetuses and healing herbs at the Witches’ Market, and I took taxis all over town in search of doctors and hospitals and testing laboratories. I sat in a posh hairdresser and for the first time in a year had someone attempt to do something with my hair for a price I could actually afford. And I survived a stay in a Loki hostel.
So in terms of being a bad tourist, I’d love to tell you that I mean bad as in badass movie style bad girl, a rebel out to cause chaos in La Paz. The truth, however, is that my time there was not about losing my cocaine virginity and getting lost in hedonism, and had very little to do with gangsters and corrupt authority figures.
In a way, I just lived La Paz. Not as a local, I shan’t pretend, but I pottered about and got a feel for the city. And I’m all okay with that.
- The Incredible Mountain City (uniquedaily.com)
- The Incredible Mountain City of La Paz, Bolivia (amusingplanet.com)