La Paz, Bolivia: in retrospect

Remote Year's Latin America lead asked me yesterday how I liked La Paz. That's a complicated answer.

Bolivia was simultaneously my favorite place we've lived and the hardest month of Remote Year. It was a constant dichotomy of emotion, fueled by travel passion and drained by exhaustion, stress, and illness.

The internet was unreliable, but good enough for me most of the time. The workspace was very loud - something that wore away at my nerves on a daily basis. But above all, I felt sick to my stomach all month. All of those things are small annoyances. If they happen on a single day, it might impact my mood, but it won't impact my mental state. If they happen every day for a month, though? That's a different story.

But there's a flip side. Bolivia is a country filled with adventures, tasty food, and fascinating culture. I'm thankful for my time there, and it really was my favorite place - hard moments and all.

Here's a better way of thinking about it, I guess. In Argentina, I felt generally fine most of the time. I had a couple of happy highs, namely horseback riding and an evening at the opera. I had a few low lows. But overall, it was fine. In Montevideo, I was fueled by exciting newness, but I also felt a general sense of malaise. When I think back to Montevideo, it felt most like home. It's hard to explain, because Montevideo was made up of little moments, no grand happy something. Bolivia was a bit like Montevideo in that sense, but with better food and cooler adventures. Better food matters to me.

A feeling of home trumps feeling generally fine. Argentina was easy-breezy. Bolivia was not - but Bolivia also had that undercurrent of something that made me say yes, this is my speed. 

 

Favorite Eats

"Favorite" may not be the best way to put it. "Yummy" and "won't give you food poisoning" are more accurate. That said, food in La Paz was better than I expected.

  • Gustu: best meal I've had in South America. Worth the price tag. Just go get the 7-course tasting menu.
  • Vinapho: vietnamese food on Rosendo Gutierrez and Sanchez Lima, Sopocachi. I ate the green curry probably four times a week. Protip: order the fresh melon juice. It's amazing.
  • Chez Moustache: pretty good "nicer" spot in Sopocachi.
  • La Comedie: a little hidden spot in Sopocachi, so hidden that I can't remember where it is. But I got seafood ravioli and it was fantastic.

 

Favorite Experiences

My favorite thing about La Paz is its proximity to other adventures. La Paz is a cool place, but the pollution, lack of heat in the apartment, lukewarm showers, slow internet, etc make it a tough place to live. I really enjoyed getting out of the city at every opportunity.

  • Salar de Uyuni: 10,000 square kilometers of salt flats
  • Trekking Tuni Condoriri.

 

The downsides

La Paz is rough around the edges. I must say that I don't miss the following:

  • The polluted air, which gave me daily headaches. Wow, I'm glad to be rid of that.
  • The trepidation I'd get when I'd eat at a new restaurant. Is this going to make me throw up?
  • The noisy bustle and constant car alarms. The noise in general, really. I never realized how much noise impacts my mental state.

 

So. La Paz. Will I go back?

Probably not. I'm grateful and feel a huge fondness for Bolivia, but I also think I've had my fill. If I'm craving Andean culture, I'll likely head to Peru. I like Bolivia - but I adore Peru.

But who knows - things change, right?


Taylor Coil is traveling the world with Remote Year, living in 12 countries in 12 months, while working as a marketing manager. Follow along to read more philosophies on work, stories from the road, and general (mis)adventures. Sign up for the weekly email or read more from the blog.