TRAVEL La Paz enchants with its culture and landscapes, but beware of the altitude
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La Paz enchants with its culture and landscapes, but beware of the altitude

Located at 3700 meters above sea level, La Paz , the capital of Bolivia, surprises visitors who underestimate the richness of its culture, history, people and landscapes.

The first view of those who arrive in the city is already impressive: it appears to have been built in a huge crater, cut by a river and surrounded by a 4100-meter high plateau, where El Alto Airport is located . The rarefied air, the winding streets and the large amount of slopes make walking even more challenging.

To ward off the effects of altitude, the so-called “soroche”, the residents recommend drinking plenty of water and consuming coca leaves, either chewing or drinking the tea prepared with them.

In fact, coca has a fundamental presence in life in Bolivia , and especially in La Paz, to the point that there is a museum dedicated only to coca. At the site, the visitor knows the whole history of its cultivation in the country, its importance in the country’s economy, the cultivation methods, the products derived from it and its properties. At the Coca Museum, tourists can taste candies made with the leaf and buy this and other products.

La Paz Center

As a city founded in 1548, La Paz has interesting historical buildings, which refer back to Spanish colonization, with influences from the original indigenous culture. The most preserved street is Calle Jaen , which still preserves its colonial style and houses the main museums in the Bolivian capital.

Casa de Murillo
The residence of the leader of the country’s independence revolution, conquered in 1809, keeps furniture and objects of the time, in addition to telling the process of Bolivia’s liberation .

Museo de los Metales Preciosos
A building built in the 16th century, brings together a collection of articles in gold and silver, made before the arrival of the Spanish, as well as ceramics from the Tiwanaku culture , funerary masks and even a mummy.

Museo Tiwanaku
Another place where several articles from the people that inhabited the place before the arrival of the Spanish are present, such as pieces of fabric, tapestry, weapons and ceramic items.

Museo de Los Ferramentas Musicales

It houses several string, percussion and wind instruments used in different regions of Bolivia . Highlight for flutes adorned with erotic motifs.

Museo del Litoral Boliviano
At first glance, it may seem like a contradiction, since Bolivia is the only country in South America that does not have a way out to sea. But this is precisely what this museum is about: the place displays flags, weapons, maps and other objects related to the Pacific War, fought against Chile in 1879. It was in this conflict that Bolivia lost access to the coast. It is, therefore, a museum about a lost war.

Witch's Market, La Paz
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Witche´s Market

La Paz is full of shops and stalls that sell all kinds of buggies, but it is in Mercado de las Brujas that the most curious items are available. They are articles for those who want to make witchcraft, as ingredients for “magic potions”, amulets and (one of the most bizarre things in the world) dehydrated llama fetuses, which they say have countless uses: to prevent the collapse of houses in the event of earthquakes until the cure of sexual impotence. In addition to mystical articles, the place offers souvenirs, woolen clothes, rugs, metal and ceramic pieces.

Churches in La Paz

Like other South American cities, there is a strong Catholic presence in La Paz. There are several imposing churches, those in Santo Domingo, San Pedro and San Francisco. But the most important is the Catedral Nuestra Señora de La Paz , which was built in 1831.

Cable Cars
Opened in 2014, following the model implemented in Medelin (Colombia), the cable car system connects the highest parts of the Bolivian capital (4100 meters above sea level) to the lowest part (3700 meters above sea level). In total, there are seven lines, which are used both by tourists and by the residents themselves for daily transportation.

How not to suffer from altitude

Headache, tiredness, fever and vomiting are some of the symptoms felt when a person reaches a place of high altitude – more than 3000 meters above sea level. With thinner air, it is much more difficult to perform common activities such as walking.

The best way to combat the effects of altitude is to do an acclimatization process, which is usually completed in 24 hours. During this period, the person should exercise moderately (do not venture into long walks in the city, much less face a trail or climb). Nor can you rest at all, as this will make the period of adaptation to the new altitude even greater. You need to constantly hydrate yourself. Drink lots of water.

Diamox- Many people usually take medication to combat the effects of altitude (remedies for headache, against vomiting, etc.). There are also those who use Diamox , whose active ingredient is Acetazolamide. The Acetazolamide is a prescribed medication to maintain normal intraocular pressure in glaucoma treatment. But it is also used to combat mountain sickness, without doses between 125 and 250 mg, twice a day.

But beware! The effects of Mountain Evil vary from person to person. Some are much more susceptible and may have more serious problems. Therefore, one must be attentive and not reluctant to seek medical help.

PORTRAITS OF AN INDIGENOUS CAPITAL

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