Taking a break in La Paz


La Paz is wild and an utterly striking place. The plane lands at 12,500 feet, and the bus from the airport descends 1,500 feet into a canyon, at the base of which sits La Paz. For 36 hours I lay in bed in my little hotel, sick as a dog from the altitude.

The third day I leaped out of bed and headed out for a hike up to the rim. I wound through increasingly destitute and ramshackle living conditions and came upon men breaking the street up with pickaxes. I said something to one of them about their good, hard work and that the day was almost done, and one of them responded by pointing to a small shop and saying something to the effect of – “If you think we’re working so hard, how about a Coke?” So I bought the whole crew Cokes and sandwiches. We sat on the side of the road.

I’m rich in their eyes, and I can feel it. I both like and dislike this. It’s a big problem with this kind of travel.