La Paz – a city in the mountains

Posted: August 28, 2011 in Bolivia

The city sits in a “bowl,” up in the clouds, surrounded by the snow peaked mountains of the altiplano at 3,650 m above sea level, the highest capital city in the world! On paper the city sounds incredible,  I had heard many travellers rave about La Paz so I was really excited about spending a few days before my long (48 hour) bus trip to Buenos Aires. However my high expectation for the place was somewhat shattered when I arrived… I found myself uninspired and unmoved.

Other than the stench of urine in many public places, streets and door ways the city is dilapidated, polluted and dirty. I imagine that in her glory days the city would have been beautiful, as stunning as any european capital. I met a young girl working as a street vendor selling black and white stills from around the city from 1880 to 1945, I stare at images and ponder what some TLC wouldn´t do for the place. However investment, maintainance and conservation to preserve cities does not come cheap, and for the large part it is not being done. So beautiful old buildings fall into a state of disrepair, ornate facades erode and crumble and once beautiful streets become blackened and pot holed.

I leave La Paz thinking “what if…”


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