From Puno we take Tour Peru to La Paz in Bolivia. Crossing the border is part of the journey and gives an extra touch to the ride.
In the middle of a hectic street in Desaguadero the guide barks at us that we have to leave the bus and stand in a line a bit further away. We walk to the line while the bus, including the guide and our luggage. After one hour of waiting in the burning sun, a hundred year old Bolivian lady sneaks in front of us while laughing friendly. It is too funny to feel a slight irritation. Our passport is stamped and we feel like free men walking the border into Bolivia. Let the fun begin!
On the other side of the border many people are standing in line as well. Poor ones. But it appears we are welcome to draw up the line as well and another of waiting in the burning sun starts. While the same hundred year old lady is sneaking into the line again. The bus and the guide are still gone. Luckily we read about this chaos caused by the tour operators beforehand so we actually enjoy the fuss while walking like sheep. With such a line you expect the border procedure to be very complex. Not at all. One stamp and we are set to enter the country of Bolivians.
After a while our bus appears and we drive the last terrifying few miles to La Paz. Stories about Bolivian drivers getting their licenses in the supermarket may be true. La Paz is enormous. Houses, people, cars, planes everywhere. We enter the city through suburb El Alto, the highest part of the city situated around 3600 meters. From Terminal de Buses we drive further to bed & breakfast La Colina in El Calacoto, a quiet area which appears to be the rich men part of La Paz. Owners Manuel and Carolina are super friendly, helpful and offer a great stay at their beautiful (and big) house. They also happen to be food lovers with great recommendations. While walking through the neighbourhood we discover a repetition for the carnival. We also visit the exposition of Fabricio Lara in Merida Romero. Since we were advised not to eat meat in Bolivia, we decide to trust the Germans in town and eat schnitzel at Reineke Fuchs.
The next day we follow the advice of Manuel and eat at Il Portico, a wonderful Italian restaurant right outisde La Paz. Great food and a splendid view. Satisfied with a full stomach we take the radio cab (relatively safe cabs in La Paz that allow you to travel without fearing to lose all your belongings before the end of the ride) to Valle de la Luna. A beautiful moonvalley right outside the city. A small one though, crossing the valley take 15 or 45 minutes. But at sunset one can take spectacular pictures.
We continue to Iglesia de San Francisco in the city center. Narrow streets packed with shops (buy leather bags!) surrounding the church. As well as the Witch Market, where they sell all kinds of herbs and lama foetuses. Lurid. Unfortunately we did not have time left to take the Teleférico (cableway) but we heard it is definitely a must. The last night we sleep like real royals in our palace and the next morning it is time to head to Oruro. Ciao!