First days in La Paz
September 3, 2010 § 1 Comment
My trip to Bolivia began with a first flight from Duesseldorf to London Heathrow. From the plane window I could see some big off shore wind parks in front of the british coast and even though one knows the pictures of wind parks from the media it is impressive to see it live from the plane.
Arriving in London, I thought I had been to big airports earlier but London Heathrow seems to be really big, at least when you see how much time you need to get from one gate to another.
As i had to go through security in London again I lasked the staff to hand-check my film material, and not letting it go through the scanning machine (which very very rarely seems to damage film material, that’s why). In Duesseldorf they did handcheck, in London the were not willing to do so unless I peeled all my fresh film, which I finally did only with the iso 800 film. So, all the 160 and 400 film went through the machine, let’s hope the securtiy woman was right citing FUJI and KODAK that the machine is perfectly fine with all film material…
Ok, the flight to Sao Paolo was relaxed, I slept most of it. I arrived there early in the morning and the flight to La Paz did go at night, so I spend 14 hrs waiting at Sao Paolo airport (by the way, I sat and slept most of the time on some seats that were in front of a small airport restaurant, called “Eisenbahn”, with german specialties and german-styled beer. So obviously, Germany didn’t want to let me go that soon…).
The flight to La Paz was supposed to stop in Asuncion, Paraguay. Instead, the flight ended “spontanously” in Asuncion and I had to change the plane again. Finally, I arrived at La Paz airport (the highest international airport, at ca. 4000 Meters!) at 2.30am Wednesday morning. Incredible enough, my checked luggage arrived with me and the pick up I had arranged with the hostel was there, too.
I love to step up on hostel roofs, I always do that when possible, so here are some fine views over La Paz from the Loki Hostel’s roof. FYI, the yellow-red-blueish parts in the front of the picture is the actual roof of the hostel. Thank god it’s not raining season.
Settlements / slums at the very steep mountains that surround La Paz. Unbelievable how the bolivianos use every single spot in the La Paz valley.
Just opposite of my hostel, 25 meters away, the police practices on the roof of the police station with the police orchestra / brass band. I know one can hardly see it but they were sitting there for 2 hours or so yesterday and today and played marching music, making sound for the whole neighbourhood.
A curious thing I found in the hostel was this room, where you can sit down and get oxygen for 10 (4 €) or 20 (7,50 €) minutes. I mean it is true that the air here in the Andes at almost 4000 meters is thin, very very thin, but oxygen masks for 10 minutes?
So what I did today and yesterday was mostly organizing things, changing money (impossible to get Bolivianos, that’s the currency here, in Germany), searching and finding some good maps of the salt lake area around Uyuni and some other stuff. It took and takes also some time to really “arrive” here, and though I travelled here in Bolivia in 2003 for some weeks the cultural “shock” between Berlin and Bolivia was there again.
I walked around quiet a bit and took some photos of urban life (I know that could be everything…) and the architecture. I somehow ended up in a small lawyers office where I took some portraits of 2 very friendly, old fashioned lawyers. Beautiful 70s interiour design of their office, wish I had brought a wide angle lens to this place. The reason why I had knocked at their door which was on the 8 th floor of a high rise was just that I wanted to take a pictures of downtown La Paz through their window.
Later today I went to the authority that manages the lithium pilot plant at the Salt Lake. They have their office in this not so modern building, it took me a second to find it…
I spoke to a PR person that now needs a written statement from my professor to give me the accreditation to visit the plant.
Good thing I stay 5 more weeks… I will spend some more time in La Paz, will get used to the altitude and and take photographs in the city.
After that I’ll probably directly travel to the small city of Uyuni, to see the salt lake and visit the pilot plant.
There would be so many more things to write about but for the moment I’ll keep it like that send a lot of Saludos to wherever you read this.