October 29, 2007

La Paz

The two last remaining posts from my South American trip will cover the capitals of Bolivia, La Paz, and of Peru, Lima. Following the itinerary, I will start with La Paz.

Actually, Bolivia has two capitals; La Paz is the administrative capital where you will find the Presidency, the Government, the Parliament…, but Sucre is officially the constitutional capital.

Bolivia was established as a republic in the beginning of the 19th century (Simon Bolivar, first president), the country lost access to the Pacific after a war with Chile in 1884. Totally the population is about 9 million, whereof some 1 million in La Paz (2 millions, suburbs included). There are three official languages, Spanish, Quechua, and Aymara. It’s still the poorest of the South American countries, has suffered from frequent coups d’état, but seems now to have a stable government, with an Aymara as president, Juan Evo Morales Ayma. We have all heard about the eradication of the coca crops (but the local coca leaves consumption will not be abandoned), the domestic control of their enormous gas and mineral assets…. OK, this was a sightseeing visit.

La Paz is the highest capital in the world and has also the world’s highest golf course (a place to beat your driving length record, thanks to the thin air). Actually, the city is a valley and it starts on a level of about 4100 meters (13500 ft) – the industrial suburb El Alto with its international airport - and reaches its lowest point at about 3300 meters (10800 ft). Wherever you go, it means climbing or descending. The average temperature is quite cool and it hardly changes from one season to the other.

The city centre can be said to be limited to two major points:
- The central place, Plaza Murillo, where you find the Cathedral, the Presidential Palace and the Parliament (the Congress)… and thousands of pigeons. Around this place there are some well kept, restored colonial style buildings, including the building of P.D.Murillo, a martyr of the independence revolution, and some museums.
- The main street, El Prado, a park-like avenue, surrounded by a mixture of old colonial and modern office buildings, restaurants, hotels, cinemas...

The rest of the city is a multitude of more or less narrow streets, with a very heavy traffic - basically taxis and local buses -, markets, shops, people… and an enormous amount of electric and telephone cables in all directions.

The further you go down the valley, the higher the standard of the housing. Some 10 km down from the centre you will find an astonishing landscape, Valle de la Luna (the Moon Valley), full of canyons and pinnacles (with a flute player staying on top of one, for the pleasure of the relatively few tourists).

Please note the fashionable hats used by the ladies – and the “hat shop”. Obviously the fashion was brought in by the British when the rail track between La Paz and the Pacific Ocean port Arica (Chile) was built during the 19th century.

The city corresponded very well to what I had imagined, full of life - in a certain disorder – and with, again, smiling and nice people!
Once more, if you wish to see the photos in full, please go to my photo blog!


Azer Mantessa said...

oo man ... this is awesome! never knew bolivia has 2 capital cities and that la paz is the highest capital city of the world


btw, i apologize for the blog 'subjected ...' which was heavily under DoS(Denial of Service) by some group of people who dun like what i wrote there ... hehehehe

so that blog now is more into video

Olivier said...

les photos sont magnifiques, j'ai cru donc comprendre que ton voyage c'est bien passé. Cela devait etre impressionnant. Je vais prendre le temps de regarder tout cela tranquillement.

hpy said...

Tes photos miniatures donnent comme d habitude envie d aller les voir de plus près sur ton phot blog. J'y vais de ce pas!

Zhang said...

Comment le joueur de flute est arrivé au sommet de la montagne? Je vois pas du tout un chemin qui pourrait l'y amener. Il y a trop de pigeons, comment quelque part en France. Les chapeaux de femmes ne tombent pas de leur tête? On a intérêt à ne pas avoir une grosse tête pour pouvoir porter ces chapeaux.

delphinium said...

bonjour peter, toujours aussi magnifiques ces photos, c'est un plaisir pour les yeux de venir ici. Entendre le son d'une flûte dans un tel décor doit être très émouvant.
L'amoncellement des câbles est très impressionnant aussi.
Bonne journée

ruth said...

That Moon Valley landscape really is incredible. Must be tricky to maneuver!

Ash said...

Never knew Bolivia has 2 capitals!

GMG said...

Another great post Peter, and full of interesting information. The closest I was to La Paz was at Santa Cruz de la Sierra, down from the mountains; I'm a bit concerned to get to high altitudes now... It seems there is another fabulous Valley of the Moon in Atacama, Chile. Need to try...

Peter said...

You learn every day!

Tu peux prendre ton temps; je ne vais pas supprimer mes posts!


Peter said...

A surprising landscape, indeed!

Happy to see that your learnt something from my post!

I was also concerned about the altitude before going, but finally - no problem whatsoever! You just have to take it easy!

le lama de peter said...

peter, va m'acheter un chapeau s'il te plaît, j'ai peur d'attraper un coup de soleil. :-)

Cergie said...

Tes photos et ton message me font penser à Macao qui a aussi une influence occidentale. Portugaise. Elle est toujours très présente
Ce que tu de l'influence de l'altitude sur le standing est à rapprocher des villes Européennes, où les zones résidentielles siruées à l'ouest sont les plus prisées. Influence de l'Océan Atlantique je présume.

(Je continue à ramer depuis ce matin, bientôt je vais couler. Le déluge du ciel est peut être pour qchose aujourd'hui dans cet état de fait ?!...)

Cergie said...

Hormis que Macao est au niveau de l'eau. Ce sont les fils apparents qui me ft surtout penser à une ressemblance.

Peter said...

le lama:
Il fallait me le dire avant notre départ de Bolivie! Je pourrai peut-être trouver un à Londres, presque pareil. C'est OK?

Tu t'es bien installée à l'ouest de Paris!
Les fils; on a l'impression que tout le monde a ses fils personnels. C'est vraiment le spaghetti!

Anonymous said...

This is another nice post. I have enjoyed the series.

I don't know what your problem might have been on the blog or site of mine. So far, you were the only one who had a problem with the comments. Maybe it is fixed now.

I do appreciate your visiting though.

I added the Cicada to it this morning.

Peter said...

... and there is still one episode left.
I will recheck concerning my small remark.

le lama de peter said...

Oui Ok chef! et je pourrais aller avec toi à Londres? j'aime bien la Guinness

Peter said...

le lama:
Le problème, c'est la quarantaine qui n'est pas abolie pour les lamas. Si tu es d'accord, j'irai avec delphinium à ta place. Elle a du bon goût et se connait bien en chapeaux! On peut lui faire confiance! ... et elle, elle n'abuse pas des boissons alcoolisés

Cuckoo said...

Never knew Bolivia has 2 capitals. Like India had in British times.

That Moon valley is very amazing, quite difficult to capture. Isn't it ? The picture looks awesome with flute player.

Peter said...

At least I did not climb to the top of a pinnacle, like the flute player. I wonder hos long he stayed there? I spent maybe an hour and he was playing all the time.