Saturday, February 16, 2002

¡Viva La Paz!

I got up this morning and decided to try the Franken-shower. Franken-shower is an oversized showerhead hooked up to 220 volts of electricity to give you false hope that you might get some hot water and real fear that you might be electrocuted. I was only expecting about a minute or so of hot water, but yet I was still disappointed. I got around 15 seconds of extremely hot water, followed by maybe ten seconds of luke warm, then ice cold! Tom thought possibly I was doing something wrong, but he had similar results. At least we wouldn't be wasting valuable vacation time taking long showers!

Niños Jugando en el Parque Mirador Laikacota

We had breakfast downstairs, then took a cab to el Parque Mirador Laikacota, a tremendous place for great views of La Paz. It is a children's playground (sponsored by Coca-Cola) situated in a high spot in the valley in the middle of the city. Only rich local families were there, as it costs 15 cents to enter, and there were no other gringos in sight. The views were stunning! We were lucky to visit on a really clear morning.

Vista desde el Parque

Otra Vista de La Paz

Next we walked to the Alasita Mercado, an open-air market which almost exclusively sells children's toys. In the food court area Tom bought a local delicacy, big giant corn! The cobs are about normal size, but the kernels are at least four times the size we're used to. We broke the kernels off with our fingers and ate it that way.

We went to Plaza Murillo, one of the main plazas, and had lunch, then wandered through market after market. At Plaza de San Francisco, very near our hotel, we bought a stuffed alpaca for Spike the wonder dog. I'm sure that will make up to him our leaving him at camp for three weeks.

Plaza Murillo

We ate dinner at the same place as last night, the Roman Palace, and ended up having a small adventure while we were there. Our food was being served when a guy walked in very quickly (we later named him Freddy), asked if we spoke English, and proceeded to sit down with us. He was from New York, said he had just gotten out of three years in Bolivian prison for trying to smuggle 100 grams, and that he needed money to call his mom before Western Union closed. He also said he'd just been stabbed, and he was indeed bleeding quite a bit from his right hand, with which he said he'd deflected the knife blade. Restaurant management wanted to throw him out, we could tell, but they didn't speak English and he pretended that he didn't speak Spanish, so that made it difficult. After a few minutes, I gave him five bolivianos (about 70 cents) so he'd go away. Tom wanted to hear his stories, but he was just too creepy to have around. He was very appreciative of our help and said God bless you, etcetera. He said most of the tourists he approached ran away. Imagine that. What a character. He's the only scary person we met on our trip, and he was an American. Grrr...

We enjoyed our dinner, made a hyper-vigilant trip back to the hotel, and stayed in the rest of the night.


Continue to day 7.

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