One month in, I am settling into life in La Paz. It is, of course, vastly different to life in Montreal, and there have been a whole array of things to adjust to since my arrival. For one, altitude! La Paz sits at 3660m above sea level, and with the airport located even higher in the city of El Alto, it is the only airport in the world where planes need to ascend in order to land. For the first two days I felt short of breath, had a splitting headache, and pins and needles in my face and fingers. All I experience now is a humbling inability to power-walk as I tend to do, since the remotest incline has me out of breath as if I`m running.
The initial spectacular, panoramic view of the city, as you descend from the dizzy heights of El Alto (4100m) is quite literally breathtaking. La Paz sits in a canyon, with houses built into the slopes, spilling and spreading for miles, and the snow-capped Mount Illimani looming in the background.
A couple of facts:
– La Paz was originally known as La Ciudad de Nuestra Señora de La Paz (the City of Our Lady of Peace).
– La Paz locals are known as paceños (peaceful ones).
– Bolivia technically has two capital cities: Sucre is the main, constitutional capital, while La Paz remains the administrative capital.