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Feliz Navidad!

that's Happy Christmas to you and me

semi-overcast

We arrived back in La Paz early on Christmas Eve morning. The journey had been ok and it still surprises me how I can sleep sat upright on a bus. Before I came away I would have thought it near impossible but you really do get used to things. Our next objective was to decide where to stay. First we checked out a kind of party hostel called Wild Rovers as we thought it might be good for Christmas but they only had space in a 12 person dorm and that really didn't appeal. So we ended up at a nice, small, quiet hostel called Austria which we would be thankful for.
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After a bit of a nap we went out for lunch and forced down yet another almuerzo, we had just about reached our limit with these and the thought of a thin, vegetable broth was turning my stomach. We then parted company, Yuri wanted to go get information about trekking in the area from some agencies and Adam and I, hoping to get in to the Christmas spirit wanted to see Scrooge. Unfortunately this was not to be as only the dubbed version was being shown so we ended up seeing Avatar in 3D instead. It certainly didn't have the Christmassy vibe we were initially looking for but perhaps this was a good thing, thinking about the festive season too much was a bit depressing. It just reminded us of all the traditional things we weren't experiencing. Not quite sure why there was so much hype generated about Avatar, we thought it was good but not mind blowing and I think the vibrant colours were less impressive with the 3D specs on. Still it was enjoyable enough.

After the cinema Adam and I decided to go off in search of some Christmas presents for each other. We got to pick out what we wanted and then the other person paid, just little things and we didn't exchange them till the following morning. Adam bought me a little hand made fabric pencil case but I'll probably put make up in it and some earrings and I bought him a few pairs of boxer shorts in bright colours which said Swiss Army on them although I don't they'd ever be standard army issue.

When we got back we had just enough time to smarten ourselves up a little for Christmas Eve, then we met up with Yuri who said the trekking was going to be too complicated. We then went into the little common area and shared a bottle of wine before heading out for dinner. It was pretty quiet on the streets of La Paz, Christmas is definitely an at home family affair and so the restaurant we ate in was fairly deserted. Our waiter had made an effort though, he was wearing an electric blue jacket with a bow tie and he served us La Picana, the traditional meal eaten in Bolivia on Christmas Eve. It was basically another soup, which I wasn't enamoured about but this one had meat, potatoes and corn in it so it was a bit of change. We tried to be cheerful but more because we knew we should be which made felt a little unnatural.

However we knew that going to bed early on Christmas Eve would be even more depressing so we went off in search of some atmosphere. First we tried to find one bar but a very helpful shopkeeper explained that it had moved and did her best to show us where on a map. It looked like it was pretty far away so we decided against it. It wasn't a completely fruitless search though as I ended up buying Adam a little leather money pouch as part of his Christmas present. Our next stop, was where it was meant to be and it was open although it turned out not for long. We managed to have one drink each as the place was shutting at 10pm instead of the usual 2am which was a little bit annoying. Still there wasn't much atmosphere there either and back out on the cold streets we wondered where everyone was hiding.

The answer to this question was soon answered as we ended up at Loki Hostel which is where the Aussie boys were staying. We followed the loud music up the stairs and into the hostel bar which was packed and overflowing on to the landing. It was literally like entering another world, another world full of intoxicated, dancing, shouting, backpackers. We soon found the Aussie boys, well Toby and Simon, Chris was apparently still sleeping off the previous night – it had been a big one. They introduced us to some of their other friends who were all very nice and we had a few drinks, danced a bit and welcomed in Christmas Day with some atmosphere. As Adam and I walked back, Yuri had decided to stay for a little longer, we were pleased we'd gone but glad we weren't staying there. It had lifted our moods and was good for this time of year but that kind of thing on a slightly smaller scale probably happens most nights which to us seems odd. I mean why go half way round the world and sit in a bar surrounded by people from dozens of countries except the one you're in?

We awoke on Christmas Day, exchanged our little gifts and with no sign of Yuri went out in the first instance to skype my parents. This didn't go too well as they could neither hear me or see me, so we decided to try later. Having failed at this we went to get some breakfast and in the process noticed that all the markets were set up which surprised us. Also the number of people out and about shopping was more than I'd expected. I couldn't really figure out what a traditional Bolivian Christmas entailed, maybe it varies depending on socio-economic factors. For most people if there is money to made then no matter what the day is, they have to be out their making it. We did a bit of shopping, buying yet more scarves, our necks shall never be cold again! Then we found an internet cafe and on the third computer we tried my family finally heard me. It was strange seeing them all dressed up and I could just imagine what it would be like at home and I was a bit sad not being a part of it. Adam then spoke to his parents and sister and I could see that it made him miss home and think about how different it was to be here. Still this would just be one year and we'd have many more at home with our families.

Having made contact with home we walked back to hostel and bought some yummy cream cakes on the way. Then we relaxed a little bit and we finally caught up with Yuri who had been out and about as well. He explained that he'd bumped into a Brazilian friend he'd met on the tour of the salt flats and he was coming round that evening and they were going out for dinner. He invited us along but both Adam and I were feeling a little delicate after the night before even though we hadn't drunk that much I think the altitude may have played a part and we decided to just do our own thing. The plan was though that we would go back to Loki that evening, meet up with the Aussie's and go to another popular bar in La Paz, we just hoped we would feel better. We had chicken and chips for dinner which helped and when Yuri and Rodrigo returned we drank a beer and played cards for a while. After a few hands we were feeling much better and ready for the evening ahead. At Loki we found the Aussie boys although Chris was still M.I.A. and had a few drinks with them before heading off to this other bar where there were lots of other backpackers. It ended up being a pretty late night but an enjoyable one and a good way to celebrate Christmas 2009.

The following day was pretty much a right off. We only ventured out for food and the rest of the day was spent in bed which seemed bad but then it hasn't happened that much over the last 9 months. We did make it to a museum in the early evening which has many displays depicting Bolivia's rich folklore, including a large array of bright, intricately made masks. It was a wonderful exhibit to look at, you can't help but be drawn in by the elaborate designs. We didn't have a camera the first time we went so we returned the following morning to take pictures before we headed towards Lake Titicaca.
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More Soon,

Laura & Adam

Posted by LauHot10 17:26 Archived in Bolivia Tagged round_the_world

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