We coasted into La Paz (1 million people, 3500 meters above sea level) and found the first gas station. For some reason there was no line – gasoline no problem.
It’s worth repeating that we had absolutely no intention of coming here. We even told multiple people we would bypass the city completely. Here we are.
Needless to say, we were ready to set up camp. An hour after entering La Paz, we finally made it to a notorious hotel in town that caters to overlanders: the Swiss-run Hotel Oberlander. We were the 6th camper in the lot.
Once you’re in a place like this, all the kids become friends, there’s free wi-fi, a real supermarket is a short cab-ride away and before long you’ve been here a lot longer than you’ve planned. And, you’ve barely left the hotel grounds.
Bode and I finally went into downtown La Paz to run some errands and we ended up fending off a purse-snatcher. Luckily, I pulled away when I felt something. They managed to unzip the pack while it was on my back, but they didn’t get an opportunity to grab anything. Still, it made me leery of the entire city.
Oddly, downtown and the “nice” part of the city is at the bottom of the canyon and the slums are at the top. Opposite of every other city in the world. The river in town has got to be record-setting in it’s pollution.
It wasn’t long, and we were desperate to get out of La Paz. We took off for what we thought would be a nice 2.5 hour drive to Coroico. At the mountain pass at 4600 meters, we saw a small lake just off the road. There were two Land Cruisers camping, so we pulled off to have lunch. Surprise, surprise – a French family. Bode made another great friend and they played like it was nothing. An altitude of 15,100 ft doesn’t seem to make much difference anymore. Maybe we’ll have super-human strength when we return to sea level.