There is little oxygen and almost no water in La Paz, but there is nevertheless a lot of life in this surprising city.
Of all the Latin American capitals I have seen, La Paz is the most authentic. It is crowded, raucous and filthy. It is unpredictable, shocking and sometimes dodgy. It has a local vibe to it, the Latin American energy. The city in large part ignores the tourists and does not have a Starbucks, McDonalds or many places serving $5 lattes. It does not, like so many other cities around the world do, desperately and unsuccesfully try to feel and look like Berlin, Paris or New York. Probably this is because it cannot afford it yet, but hopefully it is because La Paz is La Paz – modest, dynamic and genuine, with a soul strong enough not to feel the need to be anything else.
Later on on my trip I’m thinking of renting a flat somewhere in Asia and stay put for a month or so. I’m still looking for a good place to do that, but if La Paz was in Asia, that’d be my choice.