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…to Lima to Santa Cruz to La Paz

Besides our parents, Mike, Dave, and I are probably the only people in the world who care about these lengthy  vacation play-by-plays. I realize that. Especially since (so far) I’m not providing any useful travel information or regaling you with funny antics. I’m like that annoying neighbor who invites you over for dinner and then forces you to sit through a slide show of crap you don’t care about. I guess I could start making stuff up, wacky and zany stuff that might make you laugh, but then it wouldn’t be real. I mean, there was some funny stuff that happened, and we’ll get there for sure, but for now it’s just blah blah, look at this picture, blah blah. The good news is, you totally don’t have to read this! You can just scroll through and look at the pretty pictures. (Still forcing you to sit through the slide show, but without the benefit of a home cooked meal and a fattening dessert.) (I’m a jackhole.) (But Bolivia was so pretty!)

We woke up on Tuesday morning as the plane was descending into Lima. For breakfast we ate empanadas and drank cafe con leche at the Lima airport. I was tired, grumpy, and in need of a shower. I’d had it with airports and airport security in general. They made us collect our baggage so they could search it in both Mexico City and Lima, we had to go through customs in both airports and we were frisked and x-rayed in both airports (an obnoxious display of what I like to call Security Theatre). We had taken off and landed three times already and there was still one more layover in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, before we landed in La Paz. I like traveling, I just don’t like traveling.

Note to anyone who might travel with me in the future: I am significantly less grumpy with a belly full of empanadas. Coffee also helps.

Lima Airport

That’s Sergio. Perfectly lovely and not at all a ringer.

The flight to Santa Cruz was short and easy and they let us stay on the (air conditioned) plane while various people disembarked and others boarded. It was an hour-and-a-half to La Paz from Santa Cruz and we had a fantastic birds-eye view of the Cordillera Real and the city on the way.

Cordillera Real

Our first glimpse of the snow-capped mountains we’d soon be hiking.

La Paz

Hello La Paz!

The La Paz airport was great. We were in and out of customs, newly purchased visas in hand, within minutes. Our hotel had sent a car for us, so we were greeted at the luggage carousel by a friendly man holding a sign with my name scrawled in black marker. Sergio had been so helpful that we offered him a ride to the city center, so all four of us piled into the car. As soon as I saw the city up close, any thread of fear I still had melted away completely. It was absolutely vibrant. Alive with activity, swarming with people in bright clothes, shops spilling goods onto packed sidewalks, Spanish colonial buildings towering on every corner, all at once gritty and decrepit and gorgeous. I had the same feeling I felt when I first arrived in Paris; a swelling of the heart and a feeling of kindred love, like I belonged there, I was meant to be there, it was perfect.

street scene

Ave. Illampu


Check out the mountain in the background. What? Can’t see it? Let me help you with that.


Holy balls, right? Also, the zoom function on my camera is out of this world.

Our hotel, a three-star hotel located in the heart of the city, was beautiful. Much, much nicer than I imagined, very comfortable, hot water guaranteed daily. (We had no idea, at the time, what a luxury that would be.) We checked in, a bellhop took our bags to the room, and we went right out to find a place to eat. A little intimidated by our options, we chose a place on the corner with an enormous menu. We were welcomed by two women who’d been sitting behind us on the plane from Lima, Canadian travelers who happened to be staying at the hostel next door to our hotel. We chatted over beer, hamburgers, sopa, and arroyo con pollo. They travel in South America every year and had recently hiked the Incan road to Macchu Picchu. When they heard we were trekking the Apollobamba South, they urged us to hire a guide.

“And make sure you get mules to carry your gear. You’ll have so much more fun!”

They were so not kidding.

don't take my pictures

“You don’t need to take my picture.” But I do! Otherwise no one will believe we were here.

L.A. to Mexico City to Tapachula…

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  • Hey now – I’m completely enjoying these posts!!! It’s inspiring me to get going on my travel savings again so we can plan our bi-annual int’l travel trip for 2012. Your trip looks amazing so far!

    • I’m so glad! I don’t know why I’m so self-conscious of these posts, but I am so so so happy you are enjoying them. xox

  • Post, post, post! Unlike captive neighbors we can get up, wander around the house, look at things, pee, even take a nap and you’ll never know!
    Besides, I can sit through a whole lot for a  home cooked meal and a fattening dessert  🙂

  • ‘Cita

    Cute guy!  Lovely mountain.

  • For the record, I am reading all of these, albeit a few days behind schedule. I think you knew that, but just in case.