Do you know the classic game Frogger? The point is to maneuver a frog across a street. Always go forward in the right second and look for gaps. That's exactly how I feel right now. If there were a final boss, it would be the traffic in La Paz . Pure chaos or not? Maybe there is a system and I just haven't understood it yet. I only know if I want to go to the other side, I shouldn't be tired of life, but bright awake! Now and with every step here in this city.
It doesn't take long before I actually want to get out of the city. As lively, fresh and colorful as the city may be, I need a change of scenery after just a full day here. Well. I may be exaggerating too. I just don't want to sit around and hope for passive acclimatization. So Christian and I choose the pre-made tour "Tiahuanaco". Simply leave the city comfortably and take a breath of the mountain air in the Altiplano, the Bolivian plateau. And yes, I know I'm not a fan of tours like this. Pre-chewed, hostel to hostel transport, guide, fixed program and no lifestyle. The excuse today: we are lazy, it is cheaper and culture comes later. Bought?
Tiahuanaco is not only written in a variety of ways, such as Tiwanaku, but it is also of diverse history. Even before the Incas reached this area, thousands of people settled here who lived on agriculture with sophisticated rainwater systems. Tiahuanaco was not only the administrative center of the period from 1500 BC. AD to 1200 AD but also the center of religion and culture. Not much has remained. The palace is mostly melted in clay. Some remains of the wall testify to the great culture. The sunken courtyard with its relief figures and the sun gate stand out. We expected more and are a little disappointed with Tiahuanaco. Back in La Paz we let ourselves be exposed in El Alto. In the meantime, El Alto is no longer a district of La Paz but a separate city. The chaos here has not improved. With cultural calm it is over.
We are right in front of the new cable car "El Teleférico". To be more precise, on the blue line. La Paz is too mountainous for a metro, the streets are congested and the cable car is an ingenious option. The residents of La Paz and El Alto can not only hover over their city and avoid traffic, but "El Teleférico" has also created a tourist attraction. Compared to the noisy streets, the modern cabins hover over the houses and transport people of all nations and cultures.
Due to the forced "narrowness" we immediately start talking to other people. We quickly learn more about the markets among us, are asked ourselves and I try to explain in my best Spanish that La Paz has a unique system and I enjoy not being crammed underground in a car. Christian leaves the cable car at the valley station. I find the view so unique and keep going. I soon discover a folklore parade in the dance style "La Morenada" in one of the streets.
Without the cable car, I would never have spotted her, and moments happier I jump out of the gondola at the next station and meander down the streets to follow the little parade. A loud and colorful spectacle on the slopes of La Paz. Cars and buses are forced to stop. Police officers on motorbikes somehow try to get the chaos under control, but the parade just keeps going and thrills its viewers.
I follow the parade for a while before turning down a flight of stairs to the next cable car station. And again I end up in a loud corner, the Plaza Villarroel. Various groups dance to loud pounding music on the square, the scents of the “Food Festival” lie across the entire square and a band presents their skills on a stage. Children stand on a small elevated platform and let their kites soar into the sky. I almost don't dare to run past. The thin fishing lines are simply invisible and so I stumble a kite. I free myself just in time and the child only smiles at me. I am apparently not the only one who literally gets stuck here.
I stare at the sky and my eyes dreamily follow the kite. I can hardly tear myself away. But my stomach growls and so I go looking for Christian. My thoughts and I find my way back to the bustling city.
The next day wakes up and I have to go alone. Christian has forgotten himself. So something eaten and something uncomfortable with the stomach. I'm fine so far and so I'm going to pull the devil's tooth. For the first time since I know La Paz, I take a minibus to the "Zone Sur" and on to Pedregal. From there I walk steeply up the slopes towards the south and follow the road to the "Muela del Diablo". It sticks out of the rock like a big tooth and reminds people of the devil's tooth with its appearance. I try to climb the rock a bit, but I quickly stop. I don't want to break bones. I also quickly drop the idea of “simply” descending on the other side. A few policemen on patrol advise me not to. It was just steep and slippery.
So I follow the street to the end. Always with your back to the "Muela del Diablo" and to the right La Paz on the slopes and on the plateau El Alto. The road ends in a wild cluster of objects and branches that prevent the journey from continuing. But I pass and stand on the old dilapidated road to Lipari. It gently creeps down the mountain on its ridge. With a view of the barren "hills" in the east and that of the "Río de La Paz", the river in the valley. The road is washed out in some places and the many switchbacks make my destination seem too close. But today the way is the goal for me. I enjoy the calm and the sunny day.
In Lipari, the calm is over again. I can hear the river roaring from afar. I wave a minibus over and drive back to La Paz. Oh god, what a mess here!
This article is part of my series “Expedition 6000+. It takes two months through the most beautiful hiking regions of South America from Patagions, Bolivia to the highest point of the trip, the Aconcagua in Argentina. Follow the journey and enjoy the wide landscapes, high mountains and the varied cultures of South America.
More information about the route, how to get there and the necessary equipment can be found here .