We wanted to be in a big city for Christmas so we could be with other orphan travelers, so we headed to La Paz. La Paz is a beautiful city to look at. Surrounded by mountains it cascades down like a filter, the CBD and a few high rises are the epicentre. This means a lot of uphill walking.
Arriving in La Paz on December 23, we checked into an Irish-run hostel and then went to check out the famous Witch Doctors’ market, where you could find all the potions and charms you desired. There most common item were llama foetuses, but there were also, according to my guide book: frogs for good fortune, turtles for long life, owls for knowledge, snakes for progression/moving in the right direction, and pumas to help you achieve victory over an enemy. Good luck getting some of those through customs! Unfortunately the rest of the afternoon was spent at the tourist police station, as Mel’s camera was pick-pocketed.
On the 24th we got dressed up for the ‘Naughty Santa and Sexy Miss Claus’ Christmas Eve party and took advantage of Happy Hour. The time difference was a bonus as I was able to duck out mid-dancing to skype the family back home who were just sitting down to Christmas lunch.
On Christmas Day the hostel put on a ‘dinner’ at 4pm. We sat with some Irish guys we’d met the night before and sipped on hot port, a traditional Irish Christmas drink. The combination of waiting for hours to be served, Christmas spam and cold apple pie made me a tad homesick, especially for aunty Jules’ Christmas pud! In the end there was such a ridiculous amount of leftovers that a few of us collected it up in plastic bags and took it out to the many homeless that sat in the cold on the streets outside. At one stage I had about eight children grabbing at me, desperate for food, which was both confronting and heartbreaking. At least we filled some bellies on Christmas Day.