By day, La Paz is a bustling, pollution-clogged, horn-tooting city. It’s set upon some of the most mountainous landscapes in the world, meaning that its suburbia actually towers above the centre.
At night, it is a different city altogether. Its hilly crests and individual buildings disappear, replaced with a shimmering multitude of blue and white electric stars rising to the heavens.
This city is not designed for a strict daily itinerary but rather caters to spontaneous meandering. You can spend a whole day at the witches’ market searching for souvenirs. There are multicoloured woven table cloths, llama-patterned mittens, and alpaca-wool ponchos, along with the less family-friendly shrivelled llama foetuses and strange packets of herbal mixtures promising greater love making and other bizarrely sexual feats.
There are the miradores, or look-outs, that involve steady climbs up suburban landscapes to concrete public gardens. Children play on swings and slippery-dips here while adults mull over life-sized chessboards, contemplating strategic moves.
Few people linger in La Paz. It is a chaotic, unfocused city. Beautiful, but stifling. And after a few days, you feel the call of nature beyond. Where to? The options are endless, including:
- To explore the endless white of the Bolivian salt flats
- To descend into the pampas to spot animals in the Amazon basin
- To careen down the world’s most dangerous road on bicycle
- To explore the Incan world’s most important ruins on Lake Titicaca’s Isla del Sol
- To squeeze through the old silver mines in Potosi