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Now that I've acclimatized to La Paz's 3,640 m (11,942 ft) altitude, I had the chance to go out and explore the city in which I'll be spending the next few months.

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THE PLACE

First of all, Bolivia (of which the administrative capital is La Paz and legal capital is Sucre) is a land-locked country in the center on South America. Not many people know that. Not many people have even heard of Bolivia before, much less know where it's located. When I told people that I was going to Bolivia, the most common reaction was, "WHY?! There's a war there!", thinking that I had said Libya instead of Bolivia. I've also had people think I said that I was going to Bulgaria or Serbia, and I've once even Guatemala, because they've never heard of Bolivia and it doesn't register as a name of a country.

BUT. There are definitely a few perks associated with being in a country that is unknown by most of the world; such as the fact that there is no tourist-overload like in the famous countries in Europe and Asia. Without the tourist hype, Bolivia's rich ecosystems and ancient ruins are well preserved. Also, without tourists, you can really get the good feel of the country in its true colors. It is what it is. All the potholes and graffiti and missing pieces of pavement are left in all their glory for everyone to see.

THE LIFESTYLE

The reason Bolivia remains virtually unknown by the outside world is because it is still a developing country. But even though it's developing, it is the least developed country in South America. However, this also comes with perks (at least for Americans, like myself) -- it is very cheap! I enjoy the full course lunches for $1.50 and the 0.25ยข bus rides across town. Anyone on a fixed income from any developed country can live here in riches.
(Unless, of course, you buy American products in Bolivia. Because they're high quality and because of an included import tax, American products are more expensive here than in the United States. $10 cereal? WHAT?!)

Just make sure to buy "Hecho en Bolivia" (made in Bolivia) products and you'll be fine!

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THE PEOPLE

Like many countries of Latin America, there is a big mix of people of indigenous and European decent living in Bolivia. But, in Bolivia especially, the indigenous factors have a significant influence on the culture, especially on music, food, and art.
Although I had mentioned before that Bolivia is a developing country, the lifestyle is pretty westernized. Almost everyone has cell-phones and wears blue jeans. But even still, there are some indigenous people who prefer walking around town in cultural dress rather than western. These people are called Cholitos (male) and Cholitas (female). Although Cholito dress is less distinguishable, Cholita attire is very outstanding. Cholitas are known for their poofy dresses, colorful shawls, and bowler hats (kinda like Abraham Lincoln's). It's a strange fashion choice in my personal opinion, but it's considered indigenous cultural attire, and you will find many women dressed as so.

My attempt to photograph a Cholita, being as discreet as possible:

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Wow. I feel like a stalker...

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THE LOCATION

The final, and most unique aspect of Bolivia's administrative capital, La Paz, is its extraordinary geography. Being the world's highest capital that so kindly gives altitude sickness to it's first-time visitors, La Paz is situated in the Andes. Originally constructed in a bowl-like crest completely surrounded by mountains, the city began climbing the surrounding hills, resulting in a city with various elevations and awesome views from anywhere you look!

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This featured blog entry was written by DanPan from the blog Dan Pan - The Travel Man!.
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By DanPan

Posted Sun, Nov 17, 2013 | Bolivia | Comments