Mad crazy La Paz
I woke up this morning cursing the streets of La Paz. It started again! The incessant beeping, cars, people, madness! Brain... Not... Functioning. I had had enough. I did not was to spend another night playing Guess Who with bullets and fire crackers. Not my game, I fold. We had til noon to check out so we decided to grab some breakfast, as if the all you can eat pork from the night before wasn't enough food to last me a lifetime.
We got to this nice looking coffee joint and came in to find a sexy breakfast buffet batting her eyelashes in my direction. Still having a atrocious tumor of meat in my tummy, I decided to opt for a cup of coffee and maybe I'd have a bite of Max's buffet. We ordered our lattes and Max asked me to grab him some granola while he had his way with the egg and pancake station. As I was bringing the dish back to our table, the waitress approached me, "two buffets?" she inquired. I told her that I was getting it for my friend and that I was only waiting for my coffee. She informed me that I was not allowed to eat it. I heeded her warning and reassured her of my loyalty to my latte once more. Max brought back a plate of eggs and rolls and went back to grab some juice. (I would have helped had I not feared a tirade from the food Nazi). The waitress came back with the coffees, sat them on the table and said "two buffets?" By now I'm a little peeved. "No, this is for him" I said pointing at the plates on the table. She pointed to the yogurt cup that was slightly more toward the middle of the table then towards Max's side. Was I really going to have to go through every piece of edible material on the table and divide our assets?! “I’m not eating it!" I exclaimed with my best 'get the hell out of my face' look. She starred at me for a second before she walked over to Max who was claiming more goodies from the buffet. She then proceeded to explain to him, on his way back to the table, that he was the only one who could partake in this feast. Now I was pissed. "Screw it" I thought. I might as well get a buffet if it's going to be this much hassle to sit at the same table with this food. I was already cranky from little sleep and did not want Hitler standing over my shoulder the whole meal, charging me for the breakfast smells wafting into my nostrils. I went and got a heaping plate of food. If they were going to charge me for a buffet, fine. I was going to eat them out of house and home. I unbuttoned the top button of my pants and went to work. When the fantastically rude waitress came back, I asked her, with the biggest 'kill 'em with kindness' grin on my face, for some ketchup. It took her ten minutes to come back with one packet of ketchup. This is a buffet and you bring me one measly packet of ketchup? I guess I needed to be more specific. "Cuatro mas por favor" (4 more please). "No mas." she replied. Excuse me? Now I just thought this was ridiculous. After being hounded for twenty minutes to get a buffet, and waiting ten minutes for some friggin' ketchup, you're going to refuse to give me another few packets of ketchup. I even offered to pay for the damn thing. What kind of customer service is this?! "Yo quiero ketchup, ahora por favor. Mas dinero ok", I enunciated. Then she informed me that ketchup was not included in the buffet and when I offered, again, to pay extra for it, she told me that ketchup was only available for lunch and lunch was not served for another hour. Bolivia has been, hands-down, the worst service I've ever had, and I've eaten in Tijuana strip clubs.
After gorging myself on every morsel at my disposal, we walked out smug and full. I dragged my new found thunder thighs up the steep hills of La Paz and went back to the hostel. I tried to get on the Internet and find a new hostel, one far away from the center of La Paz, where I would not have to fear for my life. However, the hostels Internet connection moved at the speed of a sloth on Xanax, so we decided to hail a taxi, haul ass to the other side of town, where we would, surely, find another hostel.
Maybe surely was an over statement. We got dropped of with our 50lb backpacks, in the center of a plaza which looked promising but did not deliver. We walked and walked, sweat and sweat and finally, like an oasis in Afghanistan, it appeared. Hotel Ecuador. We are saved. Reasonable prices, nice facility, finally we catch a break! I dropped of laundry for cleaning, down to my last pair of underwear, still clad in yesterdays uniform, it was time.
We headed down to the San Francisco Basilica and Museum and took a tour of the facility, the artwork and the church attached to it.
The church was attractive with gorgeous vaulted stone ceilings and golden archways.
The was a stone stairway inside of the church that looked like a dungeon opening and led underground to a room that held the cremated remains of different dignitaries in solid gold vats.
They also featured artifacts such as wine barrels and old wine presses from ancient wineries hundreds of years old.
We hurried along the crazy streets of La Paz until we stumbled upon the coca museum.
It was a really interesting museum that walked you through the entire history of the coca plant; its history in Peru and Bolivia, where it is still a huge source of income, to the US and other countries, where it has been illegal for decades.
I learned a lot of cool facts about coca. Did you know that Sigmund Freud was the first person to use cocaine as a recreational drug? He later developed nasal cancer... Imagine that. Cocaine was illegalized in 1950 when an American BANKER stated that it caused retardation. Not that I disagree with the law, because I don't, but a banker... Couldn't at least quote a doctor? I also found out that coca was first used by doctors as an anesthetic, this I already knew. What I didn't know was that, before coca, doctors would strike their patients over the head to render them unconscious or feed them alcohol until they passed out. Sounds like a magical time. One more fun fact for you: In 1985 Coca-Cola bought 204 tons of coca leaves from Bolivia, and continues to buy coca to this day. Coca-Cola does not contain cocaine but still uses the leaves to add flavor. Trivia master here I come!