The next few days we took steady, as I fully recovered. This post skims overs a few days because I was recovering and Gemma was getting ill.
We ate mostly at Olivers Tavern or the cafe in the hotel (Banais Naira), as we knew the food was steady and wouldn’t upset our bellies. On the Wednesday Gemma nipped out on her own (growing in confidence) and bought some slippers. I was so proud to find out that she had knocked them down from 60 Bs to 45! I never thought I’d see the day!
We ate at Wild Rover hostel on the Thursday, and I managed a sneaky buy of the Seattle Sounders FC kit. On the way back through Plaza Murillo we saw the most colourful, bouyant and happy political march we’ve ever seen!
That night we went for a few drinks, and met a couple of English lads that we got on with and after some drinks we headed to the infamous ‘route 36’ bar. It is found by asking a taxi driver, as the address is always changing. We paid the cab driver, and were led through a single door shutter, up 2 flights of stairs and met with a small mousy Bolivian and an unassuming door. We were asked for 30Bs each, and we duly paid.
Inside there is a small bar, 2 toilets, and a few sofas with tables. The lights are dim and their is house music playing, louder than I would have expected. We were led to a couple of sofas surrounding a table by a waiter, who asked us for our drinks order. After grabbing our beers, he asked us if we wanted any other produce. We politely declined, but I could tell from nearby punters that it was 150Bs for one, and they seemed pretty chatty shall we say.
Friday morning was the beginning of the end of our brief, injury free time in Bolivia. Gemma complained of a toothache in her front tooth from the moment we woke up. We had plans to go to Plaza San Pedro, so we did anyway. Today would have been the day that we did our prison tour anyway, but after a lot of people warned us off we decided not to. I looked into it further and it turns out that the money from the tours goes to helping people escape, and we didn’t want to be part of that.
The plaza is a hub of activity, and was interesting to sit for a couple of hours and people watch. We saw an old man doing yoga on his own, loads of people come in and out of the prison, lots of tourists meeting for the ‘free’ city tour (stay away) and finally an orange juice seller that amazed me. He peeled the orange like I’d never seen before, so I filmed him. As you can see, he wants money. I offered him 1 Boliviano, but he refused once I’d stopped filming. He came over to the bench and demanded 10. I said no, assuming Bolivian law would let you film in a public place just like the UK. He mentioned the word ‘policia’ and Gemma panicked and told me to hand over the 10. Begrudgingly, I did. If this happens to you, my advice is don’t give them anything. Unless your better half is in pain and gives you a look that could kill, then it’s okay.
Saturday was the same, with more pain from Gemma. I bought her Tramadol, and it helped for a few hours each time. In the afternoon we thought it was cured, or at least getting better, so we hit the town. After a nice meal at Cafe Sol Y Luna, we headed to a karaoke bar. The pain started to come back, but we ordered a drink nonetheless. The bar was rammed full of drunk Bolivians, warbling in Spanish. There were 3 people asleep around the room, and the guy directly infront of us fell backwards off a two person sofa, God only knows how. Despite the ever increasing pain, even Gemma laughed. We cut the night short and went back to the room after that because Gemma needed sleep and more painkillers.
After an hour in bed, it was time to call Dr Izurri again, because the hotel receptionist reckoned there were no dentists in La Paz. (?) Unfortunately, he didn’t answer this Saturday, so after a mega dose of drugs, we went to sleep.
Sunday morning, and I was on the phone again. This time he answered, and said he would come ASAP. This posed a slight problem, as cars were banned today. It’s part of an air pollution reducing scheme from the government. Eventually he came, injected Gemma in the bum (as he did with me the previous week) and the pain dissapeared. He left slightly richer, and left us with a prescription, but no get well soon card this time!
We headed off to the pharmacy, after being told they WOULD be open this Sunday. He was right, and it was actually a nice walk. No cars, no fumes, no pain, and seeing Bolivians turn the streets into football pitches, bouncy castles, markets and of course, political walks, was nice.
We grabbed the pills and headed back, just in time for Cholitas Wrestling. It is like American fake wrestling, but with Bolivian men and women in traditional clothing. We hopped on the rickety bus and it took us to El Alto, atop the mountain, where it takes place. Due to last Sundays fiasco we had free VIP tickets (this means we get a free t-shirt and mask). We took our ringside seats and watched on as the madness commenced. The video tells you what you need to know!
There was a pantomime feel about it, and it was good fun. I booed one of the bad guys and he stuck his finger up at me, so I threw some popcorn at him. He then opened his mouth and pointed, I lined up my aim and boom, threw it straight down his throat from 4 metres. Biggest cheer of the night!
The tourists are ringside and nationals are behind. It was good to see the Bolivians getting into it. Although in Spanish, the storylines aren’t difficult to follow. At the halftime break the tourists are invited into the ring to have photos etc. Nobody seemed keen to be the first in, and I had already collected my mask, so I thought what the hell. I ran in to a big cheer, and slid under the ropes like a pro. After a few hand-lifts to get the crowd going I jumped onto the ropes for my photo!
The return journey was good for us, as I ensured we sat on the right side of the bus and got some great views. Photo doesn’t do it justice, but it was a lovely descent. We hit the hay immediately, as we had our flight to Bogota early in the morning.