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January 9, 2006 – A journey to La Paz, Bolivia in South America

Border Crossing & La Paz

Border crossing into Bolivia was a lot easier and safer than it was from Ecuador into Peru. We took the bus, which dropped us off first at the Peru migration office and a money exchange place. I changed all our soles to bolivianos, since the exchange rate is comparable to that in the city of La Paz. We walked and crossed the Peru-Bolivia border to the Bolivia migration office and got entry stamps there. After that, we stopped in Copacabana, a lakeside town by Lake Titicaca on the Bolivian side for lunch. Then off we went to La Paz.

crossing into Bolivia from Peru

Lake Titicaca from Bolivia's side in Copacabana

My first impression of La Paz was that it looked like one giant market. Very crowded and somewhat polluted too. Anything and everything is sold here in shops and on the streets - toilets to hardware to clips to dried-out alpaca fetuses to pottery to fruits to snacks to knockoffs of anything you can imagine to your usual souvenirs (llama/alpaca scarves/sweaters/mittens/socks, wall hangings, etc.). This is where I did most of my souvenir shopping, as I planned to ship a lot of the stuff back home. I regret not purchasing the souvenirs I wanted back in Peru. The stuff back in Peru seems to be higher in quality and the prices are comparable. The souvenirs sellers here don't like to bargain either. So, I pretty much paid gringo prices for lower-quality stuff.

looking at a knock-offs market from my hostal window

To anyone reading this in Ecuador or Peru: shop for your souvenirs before coming into Bolivia. Unless if you don't mind cheaper-quality stuff at gringo prices of course.

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