Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Amazing Museums in La Paz

August 1, 2009

We got a late start on Saturday, mostly because we could—our check-out was late and we had to catch another overnight bus in the evening, but I also had a cold and was feeling run-down.

Around 11:30 we went to the Museo Nacional del Arte, which had a nice collection with great write-ups on each piece, drawing attention to the piece’s significant features or trends. Unfortunately, I had trouble focusing due to a runny nose, congestion-headache, and passing waves of nausea.

Catholic?  Indigenous? A typical mestizo painting.

We finished and sat outside in the plaza, watching hordes of kids feed the pigeons until I’d recovered enough to attempt the uphill walk for lunch. At 3,500 meters above sea level and a city with more hills than San Francisco, even being in great shape the walk can feel like a challenge.


I ordered a coca tea, thinking it would help with any of my altitude-induced symptoms and a vegetarian sandwich.

My sandwich was the size of a football, cut in half and served open-faced. It appeared they’d used an entire avocado to top a thin layer of lettuce, then sprinkled on fine layer of chopped celery.

The sandwich sat like a rock in my stomach but the tea seemed to help a bit. I felt like I might make it through the day, after all.

n2The Museo de Etnografia y Folklore was the other highly recommended museum which had a great photo exhibit on Peru (?!), an interesting display on ceramics, and an all-exhaustive exhibit on money. The notable part of the money exhibit is that it occupied the bottom floor and the museum named the floors after the indigenous peoples world—making the bottom floor the underworld.

There were also great exhibits on feathers and masks, however the “mood lighting” was too dark to read the descriptions or even see the pieces very well.

p2 and-maligno

t3Then there was the incredible room on textiles, where the top half of the walls featured various weavings and the bottom half was lined with skinny drawers, each containing more extensive examples.

Tammy, who seemed to have caught my morning issues wanted some coca tea after the second museum, so we went to a cafe full of tourists. Everywhere we went seemed to be full of tourists, with locals eating squatted on the sidewalks in front of food/drink stalls.

At the cafe we ordered a couple veggie sandwiches for the bus, which took an amazing 45 minutes to arrive (10 of which we spent waiting by the door, pushing to leave). The sandwiches were cold, and since we hadn’t ordered during a mealtime, it was never clear why they took so long.

Overnight bus ride, with driver's stash of coca leaves.The bus was good, aside from my cold medicine (non-drowsy relief!) keeping me up until 4 a.m. We arrived in Santa Cruz at the incredibly sane hour of 10:30.

Bus driver’s best friend—coca leaves for a 16-hour drive to stay alert.

Map picture

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