La Paz, from midday to dusk (a)

the midday's calm

the midday’s calm

When I travel to La Paz from my hometown in Perú I use normal transport. I don’t use touristic services because they are expensive and usually the people, Peruvian or Bolivian, that has to work serving to tourists develop the bad habit to ask high prices for bad services. I take a little car at 4:00 am from Juliaca and I am in Puno more ore less at six o’clock, I spend 3.50 soles or 1.25 dollars; in Puno I take another little car to the Peruvian city of Desagüadero for ten soles or 3.5 dollars approximately, in the frontier and near 8:00 am I am crossing to the Bolivian city of Desagüadero. There I take a taxi to La Paz where I will be at midday Bolivian hour (they are one hour earlier) for 15 Bolivians pesos or 6 dollars. I pay for all that transport more or less ten dollars so it is to me very cheap. The frontier closes at night, eight pm if I’m not wrong and so I were that day in La Paz barely some hours. So this is one visit I did from midday to dusk.

PART I: EL ALTO (The High)

If you think in music I would say that El Alto is jazz mixed with native music, it is improvised, vital, and dynamic. This is a good place to buy products if one knows what to find, it is, like my city, a city of merchants. So the robbers are not tolerated and the people is always building and selling.

techamiento

techamiento

it's coming

it’s coming!

copacabana

Copacabana

In La Paz I can identify two cultures that influence the architecture: the native culture (quechua and aymara), and the German culture. The Tiahuanaco shapes blends with the German way to do buildings. The latter has a great presence in the south of the city and their influence go to El Alto. To me was amazing the first time I saw Bolivians with German blood and that explained a lot of the configuration of La Paz. And I love it, certainly the colonial Spanish component of the culture was separating the people quechua and aymara against the q’aras (Spanish people), but the German component of the culture (please, be aware I am talking about culture, not about races) hasn’t that motivation so one can see its impact in the city as a whole, it has an idea more unifying.

red labyrinth

red labyrinth

PART II: DESCENDING TO THE HEART

The highway go deep into the city, as a Dante we descend to the heart. I am not Christian so when I mention the Divine Comedy to me is not a book of torments but the exploration of a fantastic world. La Paz has parts that make me evoke to Qosqo (Cusco), Arequipa or Puno. The tourism is making the same as other places: the food every time seems no better but the opposite, so one needs to search more. I am sure that in the places less touristic the story is different. But even thus the city is very affordable.

blue paint red sky

blue paint, red sky

The taxis take you here, in the General Cemetery, and from here you can take cars to other places outside La Paz with very good prices.

Or you can go to the Buses Terminal of La Paz. This building was designed by Gustave Eiffel. And it is really pretty: It has a triangular shape but with an arched portal that gave it a human proportion, it has the dignity of an old gentleman. It was before the train station so the use now require modifications, it is not very compatible with the new functions. Fortunately La Paz has great architects that could resolve this design task, I think this building deserves it.

a new day begins

a new day begins

fulgor

Fulgor

motorbike

motorbike

coke coming

coke coming

La Paz bus terminal

La Paz Bus Terminal

With the centuries La Paz has accumulated a valuable heritage. With worthy contemporary architecture but sadly also with big mistakes as Lanza Market in front of the Basilica San Francisco. But in general the city is well treated and it looks more modern and comfortable. I remember when I was a child the protests against the governments were common and much of the energy went to those activities, today with the President Evo Morales those energies are leaded to constructive projects. I don’t know so much about politics or ideologies, in fact I dislike everything that has to be related to politics, so don’t take my commentary as an ideology though but a objective fact.

contemplative

Contemplative

cloud pepsi and bridge

cloud, pepsi and bridge

gentil equilibrio

gentil equilibrio

colors against uniformity

colors against uniformity

the city of white cars

city of white cars

PART III: THE SOUTH – CALACOTO

I understand that in Calacoto there are Bolivians from German ancestry. It is the lowest place, it is clearly ordered and organized. It has a more western aspect, and it is a proof that the culture in La Paz is dynamic in every aspect. I am sure that the rich native culture is also a reason to the dynamism of Calacoto.

we want to be taller

we want to be taller

La Paz's Little Miami

a little Miami in La Paz

horizontal lines

horizontal lines

ballivian avenue

Ballivian avenue

radiocubismo

radiocubism

let me tell you about the blue

let me tell you about the blue

torre sur

Torre Sur

the calm before the night

the calm before the night

e-don't

E (don’t)

a mystery behind

a mystery behind

fat threes

fat threes

Notes:

I wanted to cite the designer of every building but I couldn’t find all of them. But I have the following names:

  •  Alto Obrajes’s Olympic size swimming pool by Arq. Ricardo Pérez Alcalá (“we want to be taller”)
  • Hotel Camino Real Suites by Arq. Ramiro Muñoz Moyano (“Horizontal lines”)
  • Apart Hotel Casa Grande by Arq. Ramiro Muñoz Moyano (“A sun into my body” and “The calm before the night”)
  • Hotel Casa Grande suites La Paz II by Arq. Ramiro Muñoz Moyano (“E (don’t)”, “A mystery behind”, and “Fat trees”)

4 thoughts on “La Paz, from midday to dusk (a)

  1. Francis, i would like to ask you a question and i hope you do not mind: why you do not drive a car? Traveling by bus from time to time can be romantic, but with your own car you can travel more and farther. I already know that you wearing glasses and had an old accident on your left arm, but these issues do not think that stoping you, to drive a car. You’re an architect. From a financial perspective you should have a car. I live in one of the poorest countries in Europe, but i do not think that in my country is an architect that does not have at least one car. In Romania, the architecture is a well paid job. I asked you this question because i already consider you a friend (from end of the world) and of course, i want to know more about you.

    1. In Peru to take a bus is not romantic but something practical, if you would see our busses you’d agree that they’re anything but romantic :-)
      My eyes and arm are normal from my point of view and are not related to my dislike to drive cars. I am architect but I don’t work in construction but in design, and that branch is poorly paid in Peru, instead construction has a lot of money but that’s not what I decided architecture. Besides I grew up in a public school with very poor classmates (several already died for malnutrition) I try to don’t sped in luxuries and a car with our busses system would be that, a luxury, my camera is old, my clothes just a few, I don’t use watches. My little money today is reserved to my education, a car would be a kind of educational suicide.
      I don’t know if that makes sense, but thanks very much Dan for your suggestion, I know you’re thinking in the best for me. Hoping all’s right there. Greetings,
      Francis.

      1. Now i begin to understand certain things. It’s a little bit shocking what you told me. Romania is a poor country (for european standard), but word “malnutrition” i have not heard for a long time. We live in different worlds Francis! I asked this question (i have many others in my mind), because i wanted to understand how is life in your word. Because probably i will not ever travel in Peru, and the only chance to understand something, are you. So please do not mind if, from time to time, i ask questions that seem inappropriate. Of course, if you have your own questions, i’m gladly to answer (even if is personal questions). I congratulate for your education and how you think. Unfortunately in Europe (even in Romania) due to high living standards, people got used to consume much more than they needed. Consumption is increasingly higher, and resources increasingly lower. The end is not hard to predict. It is only a matter of time until the situation will have to change. I am afraid that the problem from Ukraine are beginning for this change. It is a great pleasure to talk with you Francis!

      2. You’re welcome Dan (y) Actually the coast is similar, in some parts, to Romanian quality of life. In the highlands we’re another kind of civilization, not better because we’ve our own problems. Just different. In great part is for that reason that my blog is not in Spanish, to me it’s almost a foreign language so if I’m going to use a language that isn’t mine then I’d prefer to use English because what I write or photograph could be useful to a bigger number of persons.
        I’m sure that Romania is going to find a way to take better care of the resources, or to use others renewable. Your questions are welcome Dan, happy weekend sir.

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