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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars


Bolivia - 11 December, 2001



Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Hotel Andina, La Paz S1629.738' W06808.406' 3,689 m
Finish Hotel Andina, La Paz S1629.738' W06808.406' 3,689 m -

Leg 1 Total:

5,761 km


771 km

Grand Total:

6,532 km


Weather: Clear, sunny and hot.  Cool at night.



Today we spend the day in the city of La Paz itself.  There did not seem like too much to interest us here - it seemed like just another third world city that had destroyed most of its past in its race to develop.  After a light breakfast, we headed out to what may be one of the most interesting attractions in La Paz - the Coca Museum.


Bolivia01_LaPaz2_Coca_Jac_C157_Web.jpg (99317 bytes)

In a very small space it provides quite an overview of the history (and uses) of coca.  For those not aware of it, cocaine is made from coca leaves.  As we have tried chewing it on the Inca Trail and have been drinking coca tea for quite some time, we were interested to learn more.  In a very small space, they pack in a very informative museum.


It is hard here to tell all about it, but they try to stress that the coca leaf has been very beneficial to the local people and it was only when the western people arrived that cocaine and other drugs were developed from it.  Coca leaves are still used in Coca Cola today (but they have taken out the cocaine that used to be part of the recipe).  Coca leaves have sustained the people who have to work hard at high altitude.  At first the Spanish banned it as diabolical, but once they realised how much it increased the productivity of the Indians working in the mines and elsewhere, it was controlled and promoted by the Spanish (at Potosi, the coca equivalent in value to 400 kilograms of gold was each year bought and chewed by the slaves working in the silver mines).


We walked away with a few unanswered questions and a few answered (coca tea does not produce any cocaine, but it did appear that chewing coca leaves with a catalyst did produce some cocaine).  After the museum we had a bite to eat, and then Jacqui and Lars split up.  Jacqui and Heather went shopping and Paolo and Lars went to collect the sleeping gear from the truck as we will be leaving the Dragoman truck for one night tomorrow.


After running our errands, we met up once again at Iglesia de San Francisco and went shopping. We first went in search of a chocolate shop that Lonely Planet raved about - but it was a disappointment.  Then we looked at some of the textiles and picked up a few of their weavings.


We returned to the hotel around 6 PM and after a short rest, we went out for dinner with Heather.  Tom had gone off to ride a bicycle down the most dangerous road in the world.  He came back a bit bruised, but otherwise OK.


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