Visit to La Paz, Bolivia

We made a trip to Bolivia last week to pick up my new Peruvian visa at the Peruvian consulate in La Paz. Archaic government rules mean that a visa typically grants permission to travel to a country, so in most cases you have to pick it up outside of the issuing country.

We took advantage of the opportunity to take a little vacation, stopping in La Paz, Copacabana (Bolivia) and Puno (Peru). La Paz is a fairly typical large Latin American city, located in a canyon made by the Rio Choqueyapu. The center of the city is at an elevation of over 3,600 meter (~12,000 feet) above sea level, but the outskirts of the city reach over 4,000 meter (13,000 feet) in El Alto. I’m not a huge fan of big cities, so I enjoyed Copacabana more than La Paz.

In Bolivia poverty is more visible and widespread than in Peru, and right now there is also civil unrest between the middle class and the poorer ethnic Indian population. La Paz is a stronghold of support for the ethnic Indian president Evo Morales, while the richer cities in Bolivia such as Santa Cruz are more opposed to him. Support for “Evo” is very visible in La Paz, on billboards, grafitti and public demonstrations.

– Ward Welvaert

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