21 May 2011

oruro to la paz, bolivia

From Oruro, we took the bus to Bolivia's capital, La Paz.  Here's some of what we saw, starting with this miner's helmet and approaching dragon:

It's hard to tell, but those are llamas (above).

Carnaval was still in full swing, so people were dancing and twirling in the streets in preparation for their parades.  It was awesome.  (Pardon the bus curtain reflections.)

The sky was just about perfect:

There were lots of political advertisements:

And then we arrived in El Alto, amazing for at least three things:

1.  It's the largest city in all of Latin America with an almost completely Amerindian population (76% Aymara, 9% Quechua, 15% Mestizo and less than 1% of European descent, in case you're curious).
2.  It's one of the fastest growing regions of Bolivia, which grew in the last ten years from about 600,000 people to over 900,000, and one of the most politically active, especially in Amerindian rights.
3.  At over 13,600 feet above sea level, El Alto is also one of the highest cities in the world.

(And I don't know how this started, but they also offer cholita wrestling.  I didn't go, so I can't expound on the experience, but it just strikes me as bizarre.  But I digress.)  Back to El Alto.

From El Alto, you descend into what looks like a crater to get to La Paz.  The city's growth extended all the way to the edges of the valley, and now, the city is growing up the sides of crater.

Apparently, on a clear day, there are beautiful snow-capped mountains to be awed by.  Oh, well.  We'll just imagine we saw this:

instead of this:

When we got to the bottom, we saw Carnaval in full force-- this time, with people in clown suits everywhere we looked.

We passed some neat buildings going into the city.

And there were more brightly colored buses.

And finally, we arrived at the bus station.

And then were off to explore La Paz!

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