Our next few days in La Paz were actually quite lazy with little happening.
Monday 04.01.1988, La Paz
Money exchanging: We went into the back room of the Farmacia Hispani (chocolate department) to get some local currency. Their boliviano rate was poor for cheques (2.19) so we changed some US$ cash instead. The place took 1 % commission which apparently is best in town and still is economical as they are always giving the best rates for cash. Sud Amer gave us 2.21 for our American Express travellers’ cheques.
We dropped by some travel agencies to hear about tours to Tiwanaku. The agencies with buses demanded about 13 USD – too expensive. We’ll see if there is a local bus.
Bo bought herself a leather bag for 19.5 bolivianos (8.8 USD). We went to the post office and mailed a letter home. A letter from the family was waiting for me, sent from Norway on December 28th and stamped in La Paz on the 30th! Despite our suspicion and hope for the contrary there was no letter to Bo.
The lab tests of Bo’s stool sample showed some amoebas and she got pills and a recommendation to eat well. We did.
A step aside
(A little remark at the time of blogging (2013): It thus turned out that Bo had contracted amoebic dysentery during our journey through the Amazon, almost three months previously. Her two heat strokes there had given way to a prolonged period of weakness caused by this disease. This had set her strength back quite a few notches. Any dreams we may have had of walking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu was effectively stopped because of this and to some extent my own health as well. After starting taking the pills, she would over the next few days regain her strength quite fast. The Bolivian doctor she visited was educated abroad and ran a modern clinic, at prices unaffordable for the vast majority of Bolivians.)
Tuesday 05.01.1988, La Paz
This was the first day in three and a half months without the terrible malaria pills (Paludrin). During this time Bo has had serious trouble taking them each morning and has grown an aversion to any kind of pill. The doctor had told her there only was a risk of malaria in jungle areas. As it now was two months since we had been there and had no intention of going into the jungle again, we threw the rest of the pills into the toilet.
Today we once again were looking forward to go to Tiwanaku. We walked up to the bus company and were told there wouldn’t by any buses, not until tomorrow morning at 0730. We doubt we’ll bother taking that walk uphill to the station one more time.
Nothing so bad but might have been worse. As we had gone high up above the city (Cementerio) we took the opportunity to walk around in the heights to have a look at the residential houses and local shops. The view across the city towards Illimani (6402 m) was great, but the sun was standing so high as to make pictures impossible.
The cemetery (Cementerio) was large, peaceful and interesting with the dead placed in row upon row of window-boxes covered with flowers. There was a big difference in how nice the boxes were. Some families had their own mausoleums.
We visited the museums of Folklore and Art. The first was the most interesting. A guard tried to claim an admission fee, something he was not obliged to. We refused to pay him and he pulled back with a demand of seeing our ID cards, which we granted.
I’m contemplating buying a couple of pocket books, but they seem quite expensive.
Bo seems healthier and with larger appetite already.
Wednesday 06.01.1988, La Paz
We didn’t bother getting up early enough to take the Tiwanaku bus. Instead we bought a couple of pocket books for a stiff 14 and 17 bolivianos (6-7 dollars). We spent most of the day reading them.
We also went to the Norwegian Missionary Alliance which occupies an entire floor in a tower block. Unfortunately the Norwegian missionaries were on vacation in Cuzco. Bo had been financing a children’s programme and wanted to check out the conditions.
Together with Blake and Jane from Australia and a Danish couple we went to a restaurant. Our plan was to continue to a peña to meet a number of other people. We never found it.
Thursday 07.01.1988, La Paz
Yesterday we agreed with Jane and Blake that they would stand in line to buy Antofagasta tickets from the morning at eight and that we woul relieve them two hours later. We gave them passports and money.
When we were having breakfast Blake entered with tickets and all. It was a great relief sitting there with the tickets in our hands. The opening hours were uncertain. The South American Handbook mentions 12, we were told 10 at the railway station and Blake bought the tickets at 8. A ticket cost 51 bolivianos(23 USD) to Calama, Chile. We are leaving tomorrow at 1150.
Bo bought a pan-flute and an instruction leaflet for 10 bolivianos and I will have to bear with her practising.
We ate well at Chez Pierre once more, but expensive – 23 bolivianos (10 USD).
The next chapter: Moving from Bolivia to Chile on the coast of the Pacific Ocean was no easy matter. For us it involved a long train ride across the world’s driest desert, with views of fascinating salt lakes, and with time consuming border crossing formalities.