Sitting in the La Pa Airport…..travel does include far too many airports!! We are waiting for a connection to Lima, then Brazil for one night, then Switzerland…fun times ahead…!
Yesterday we didn’t do a lot, I wasn’t doing well with the altitude in the morning..it seems to hit you most about 12 hours after you arrive somewhere. We wandered around the main square (allowed in this time!) and bought some touristy knick knacks for some of our smaller relatives. We then went and found the post office and posted a few postcards off!
We had noticed lots of cars and buses blocking the streets off. This was nice in the sense the city was quiet! It was some kind of strike, I’ll tell you more about that in a minute! We basically just hugged the hotel room, watched a B-grade comedy and went to bed.
The next morning, I got an email alert from Smart Traveller, informing me the strike was a 48 hour one and it also included routes to the airport….crap! We went downstairs and the staff tried to call around, but no taxis were coming into the city!! The airport is about 25 minutes by car from La Paz, at the top of a reasonably large hill! We got the walking route and then went and packed up to go for an unplanned morning hike! It supposedly takes about 2 hours to walk to the airport.The lady at reception said she would walk with us, as another tourist who had flown in that morning had attempted to walk down to the city and got smacked down by altitude sickness.
So…off we went! it was bizarro, the streets were empty, and here we were rolling our suitcases along one of the main motorways. We walked about 20 minutes with our bags when some motorbikes and taxis (very sporadically) started appearing! The hostel lady had her brother in law strap our bags to a scooter he had appeared in, then told us they would meet us further up. We continued walking and trying to grab a lift. A taxi would stop and a bunch of people would rush it to hop in and grab a ride! It looked like something out of a zombie movie! We eventually got into a packed taxi and went partway up the hill..then we got to the first blockade. Everyone had to getÂ out,Â pay the driver 5 Bs each and keep walking! After a few minutes, the scooter and our bags whizzed by! Below is a picture from looking down at La Paz and up the highway.
We walked past the first blockade, probablyÂ for another 5 or 10 minutes and another taxi picked us up. Standard safety rules in Bolivia usually involve not getting into a cab with other people – but there was none of that today! We drove most of the way up the hill then came to a second blockade. It wasn’t completely blocked though, so with some discussion and a “vamos” from the other passengers we drove up and through! Soon after, we spotted the scooter stopped and got out for our bags…thanked the hostal people and trundled along. Only 20 minutes to the airport and we had avoided hiking up that bloody hill/mountain!?
We walked most of the rest of the way and we are now waiting for our flight! Apparently all the other people going for flights today left their hotels at 3am in the morning to avoid getting pinned in by the blockade! I might keep my eye on the news a bit better from now on! The Bolivian government is trying to implement some new rules – which seem to cut small buses and taxis of airport and between city transfers..there were some other things as well.
Either way, we have made it safely! Hooray!