… Being Greeted By The Police
From Copacabana we took a public bus to La Paz, the “tourist bus” would have been only slightly more expensive, but it only leaves in the afternoon, whereas the public busses leave every hour. Our bus was a bit ancient and not suitable for tall people. There were only five tourists on our bus, but the tallest was sitting behind Heidi and she was in touch with his knees for the entire trip!
We approached the city by first going through El Alto, when suddenly the bus crossed the edge of the plateau and started winding down the road to La Paz. The view is incredible: the city seems to be located like in a great bowl below with every inch of it being covered by buildings!
Once we got off the bus, we were approached by three policemen who wanted to see our passports. Being alarmed by stories of bogus police, we were a bit nervous. Gilles first ignored them, then required to see an ID, which were some plastic cards. Eventually we showed our passports, since all this happened in broad daylight and there were lots of people around.
Afterwards, two “Tourist Policemen” stayed close and offered to flag down a taxi, which turned out to be an illegal one. The driver had no papers whatsoever with him. Nevertheless, after a few minutes of discussion, the two policemen found it suitable to take us to our hotel. Once our luggage and we were inside the taxi, one of the policemen also got into the car, which left us speechless. Although we felt prepared for such fishy situations we were paralyzed. We kept checking the street signs and soon relaxed when we were sure to go the right direction. We still do not know whether this was a particular precaution or if the policeman was just bored, or if he cut a deal with the taxi driver later for not having his papers.
We checked into the Hotel Fuentes, which was recommended in the Lonely Planet ThornTree but not in the travel guide, in the very, very center and we love it. It is completely quiet because the street to access the hotel is a pedestrian zone, actually it is the road of the Witches Market. The rooms are quiet, modern, clean, with very hot showers and with little heaters that can be rented for 3 USD per day.
But we only have stayed in La Paz for two days, since we decided we definitely needed a little bit of a warmer climate before visiting the city more in depth, so we booked a flight to Rurrenabaque in the Amazon Basin.