Basically, any spot in La Paz can be used a makeshift viewing point. Just raise your eyes off the ground and there’s the massive Illimani Mountain towering over the southeast. Looking up towards the west provides a view of El Alto, Bolivia’s fastest growing city, stretching haphazardly across the cliff. And if you drive into El Alto, the panorama of the city below is unmatched. Though La Paz itself can be grimy, polluted and uninspiring from an architectural standpoint, I doubt any other city in the world provides as many incredible picture-taking opportunities.
On the second morning of our trip from Uyuni, we awoke with sore backs and cold toes after having spent the night in a salt hotel. The place was built entirely from the stuff: salt tables, salt floors, salt walls. Instead of sleeping, I spent the night licking my bed. But we loaded our tired bodies dutifully into the jeep and, within no time, had reached the desert of Chiguana. Shrubs, sand and the occasional llama were our only companions as we cut southwest through one of Bolivia’s most underdeveloped corners.
This past weekend, Jürgen and I embarked on a three-day hike offered by Condor Trekkers: a relatively new, non-profit tour operator in Sucre. Starting at 5am on Saturday morning, our hike led us into the heart of the Andes, along the Inca Trail, into the Maragua Crater, past dinosaur footprints, through waterfalls, into the houses of Quechua-speaking campesinos, and over mountains, before depositing us into steaming hot thermal baths. Three days of spectacular scenery, unexpected adventure, sore shoulders, and starrier night skies than I’ve ever seen.
It was our first day in Sucre, and the women in the tourist office seemed to be competing over who could be the most helpful. The younger lady took an early lead by piling brochures into my hands, offering advice on bus connections and informing us about upcoming festivals. However, her opponent, older and more deliberate, claimed victory after hearing Juergen say he was a photographer. “Ah! I bet you want a view over the city.” Yes, that is exactly what we want!