Big Dirty City

We left our little chalet in the mountains and headed downtown. Downtown La Paz is very different than the little suburb I was in. There are a lot of poor people here, and some very rich people too. We tried to go to the little hostel that was recommended, but when we got there there was as sign on the door that said "closed for the Christmas season". I was really depressed. I am tired and I do not know if I am doing the right thing chasing half way across the country with the kids to try and meet someone for Christmas who may not make it in time. I do not want to be alone for Christmas, and we could have stayed in Arequipa with Patricia and Maria and Santiago and Kendra and Anthony. The taxi drivers were ripping us off right left and centre, but there was nothing I could do about it, since I do not know the town and I do not know where I am going or what I am doing. Need time to think. Need better communication with Hilary. I am really afraid that she will get to Salta and decide to stay there, and I will be stranded, alone and depressed for Christmas, with no way to salvage the day.

We found a little hotel that was right beside the bus terminal and is not too expensive, although it does not include breakfast, so add that to the bill. In the morning, there were lots of bus tickets to be had for all kinds of places, but by the afternoon, there were only a few left. I had to buy the tickets to Uyuni. I have no choice.

We walked around the market, which would probably be more interesting if I was a little less depressed. We got a lunch/supper at a little Lebonese place. The falafels were dry and tasteless, and the pitas were stale. The soup was ok, but quite salty. I bought a sweater to try to cheer myself up, and that worked for about 5 minutes.

There are many little children begging and selling and dancing for money at the market. I gave some of them some money to take their photos. It is very sad to see children that will sell themselves for money. I think it is also the reason I am so depressed today. If I could round them all up and give them a Christmas dinner would it make me feel better. Probably not, because they would still have to go back out and beg after.

There was a cool gyroscope a the market and the kids went on it. It cost about a dollar a ride. The guy spins it by hand for about 5 minutes. Most of the little rides down here are operated by hand, no electricity required. There was one larger ferris wheel (still quite small) and a really old tilt-a-whirl, probably both from the 1920s that had motors running them.

We went back to the hotel and the kids watched the little cable tv while I went out to a cabina and phoned Greg and talked for a while and wrote in my blog, but I still have a lump in my stomach.