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La Paz, Day 20

Because it’s so breathtaking, here are some more pictures:

In total, there are over 33 kilometers of cable cars in La Paz, divided into 10 lines, separated by color. The first one was inaugurated in 2014. Around 300,000 people are transported each day (compared to around 900,000 people per day on the Cologne subway), an incredibly useful system that avoids (mostly) stationary traffic and is also great fun! If you want to know more, here (in german).

One ride per line costs 3 bolivianos, which is about 50 cents. As the train travels at about 5 m/s, 2 x 3 kilometers, which is what I did today, takes about half an hour. A wonderfully relaxing half hour, in peace and quiet. Unless … it’s raining and crazy windy, like on my way back from Zone Sud. In Cologne, the cable car would have been shut down in any case and if Damián hadn’t told me shortly beforehand that nothing has ever happened and the most problematic thing that can happen is that the cable car is shut down when it’s windy, I would have got off immediately. I was afraid that the gondola would hit the mast. As none of this happened, the wind, which I thought was strong, was apparently not that bad.

The whole city seems to be a building site, because here, as in many other countries, as soon as a house is finished, taxes have to be paid, so the reverse is very often the case: the house is not finished and therefore no taxes have to be paid on it. As my companion here in La Paz Damián quite rightly said: the city should actually take taxes on unfinished houses so that the cityscape would change for the better.

If you look at the satellite image via Google, you can clearly see the edge of the terrain between El Alto and La Paz, and if you scroll down you can also see the road layout, marked in blue in the image below. You can see how far the cars have to drive in serpentines to overcome the level.
The people here in La Paz say that the city is actually divided into three parts: Zona Sur, the lowest part, seems like an American suburb, an island in itself, the richest district where the well-heeled live. Of course, the German school of La Paz is also located here. Then La Paz itself with the Sopocachi district, where I now live, about 300 meters higher than the Sur zone. At the top, on the Altiplano, the high plateau, is El Alto, “the highest”, 4,100 meters high, incorporated in 1985. El Alto is the second largest city in Bolivia, with around 850,000 inhabitants; La Paz has 760,000. These figures (for El Alto) refer to 2012. As the city has doubled in size in the 20 years since then and continues to grow rapidly, it is reasonable to assume a significantly different figure. El Alto is one of the poorest cities in the world.
It is also interesting that Damián reported that some of his friends who live in the Zona Sur, like him, have never visited El Alto …

So, and then again: by the side … A personal report in the way people speak here in Bolivia, but also in Peru, directly translated:
Today I had lunch with Sabine Hentzsch, the director of the Goethe-Institut in Bolivia/La Paz, and we had a wonderful chat. First about Romania, as she had worked there shortly after I got to know the Goethe-Institut in Bucharest. Then, of course, about Bolivia, life here and its circumstances. We sat with a nice Chinese woman in her little neighborhood in the Zona Sur. A great encounter!
I bought two bananas for dinner, which only cost one boliviano, or 14 cents, at a street stall.



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