Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
La Paz: 'The Hidden City'
The horses' hoofs were clattering and drumming on the cobble stones in the outskirts of the
town,andshortlyafterwardsweweremixedupamongthelittletrafficthatexistsinthecentre.
A few guessed who we were and joyfully greeted us, and when I asked a policeman the way
to the Argentine Embassy he kindly guided me towards it. The ambassador and his staff re-
ceived me with joy and hearty congratulations, for they had never expected us to arrive there,
and within a few minutes the horses were unsaddled, groomed and fed, and munched away
happilyinthestablesoftheembassy.Theylookedasiftheyhadonlybeenoutforamorning's
trot and nobody would ever have believed that these were the hardy pomes which had come
from Patagonia to this place.
My stay in this dty was very pleasant, and everybody with whom I came in contact treated
me excellently, and I was struck by the exquisite manners and education of many who be-
longed to what is usually called the upper class. Many of these persons had obviously been
educated or had travelled abroad, and taking all in all, I dare say that French influence pre-
dominated. However, the masses one sees in the streets are mestizos or Indians, and many
of the latter speak no Spanish. The town is very hilly and some streets are so steep that only
powerful cars are of any use.
Daily,massesofIndianscomeflockingtothemarkets,whichareverycolourfulandlively,
and there they sell and barter the most extraordinary things. Woven goodscan be purchased at
very low prices provided the buyer knows how to 'beat the Indians down,' an art that requires
far more skill and practice than one might at first think. No market is without its stand where
medicinal herbs and even amulets are sold, and among the many strange remedies I often no-
ticed was dried starfish, skinned and dried squirrels, and other queer articles that I thought
must be more charms than anything else.
The city has a very fine museum of archæology, where I spent several most interesting and
instructivehours.LikemanyothertownsinLatinAmerica,LaPazisabadmixtureofneglec-
ted colonial architecture and modern construction. In many European cities the old style has
been preserved and has been worked into modern buildings, and thus a charming and uniform
style of architecture prevails throughout, but this has not been done in Latin America, except-
ing in one or two cities like Buenos Aires, where splendid efforts are being made in this line,
not so much to preserve the old as to give the streets an elegant appearance through graceful
uniformity.
People in Bolivia are very fond of eating what they call a picante about four o'clock in the
afternoon. This very appetising dish is prepared with turkey, chicken or different meats, and
one day I could not resist the temptation to try one. When I had taken the first mouthful I had
torunoutsidetorinsemymouthwithwater,forthepicantewasso'hot'withthemostwicked
and devilish spices that I felt as if I had taken a mouthful of glowing charcoal. We had a good
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