La Paz: A strange, fascinating city with slightly dark undertones. We took a free walking tour and loved learning more about its history. 160 presidents in 200 years! And Evo Morales, current president, is bending the definition of the word "country" so he can serve another term. J had finished reading the book Marching Powder which highlights the history of the cocaine trade and corrupt/bizarre prison system. There is a prison (San Pedro) right off a main plaza in the middle of the city that used to offer tourists the opportunity to spend the night! J and Cody get old school barber haircuts and shaves, while Elise buys her weight in frazaditas (vintage wool/alpaca blankets made by the Aymara or Quechua people) and mini jars of flavored salts (from the Salt Flats!). Oh and wrestling cholitas!
The Salt Flats & Laguna Route: From La Paz, we decide to take a train to Oruro instead of dealing with the possibility of bus and road delays. It was rainy season and only 5% of roads in Bolivia are paved. This is followed by three days of overlanding from the Uyuni Salt Flats to the southernmost tip of Bolivia. Breathing was definitely challenging. We were up at 11000-15000' the entire time. The Salt Flats felt otherworldly. There was a layer of water which made everything reflect like a mirror. It felt like we were walking in clouds. Our driver was a pro at taking funny perspective defying shots and even directed a short video...who knew the next Spielberg was in the Salt Flats?
Lessons learned: The altitude is for real! It was the strangest sensation to wake up in a pitch black hostel room, gasping for air at 15,000'. Also don't lick the walls of the salt hotel (they mix in some funky chemicals).