La Paz is the capital of Bolivia, nevertheless, there is no peace to find in the country at the moment of visiting. A huge part, namely around the city of Potosí is blocked due to strikes.
‘And when they strike in Bolivia, the strike,’ has said the old lady in Puno, ‘I don’t understand the [Bolivian] people. If they want to kill, they kill. If they strike, they strike. And it can last for months!’
Still I took off, after her warnings, on the long road from Cusco to Puno, seven hours by bus, but astonishing scenery. The trip went smooth until the bus abruptly had to stop for a traffic jam in the middle of the desolate area. No explanation followed until the bus started to ride again, after an hour, and abruptly had to change its route. Two collapsed street lights blocked the road.
Strikes. As from then on, the remainder of the road was interrupted by road blockades, varying from crossed pillars or street lights to small rocks and pieces of glass. The bus slalomed around the obstructions but continued its road. Until another blockade, now formed by people. They march by, peacefully, but chanting and waving flags.
Arriving in Puno, switching on the local radio, it will turn out that the road blockades will last for a while, and so it will continue in Bolivia.
Most striking in La Paz, are the cable cars. La Paz has the highest network of cable cars of the world, not used to transport skiing tourists, but to transport commuting city dwellers. Because they hang in the air, above the ground, and some even parallel to the street level, they don’t add to traffic congestions, while facilitating a convenient and fast commute. Moreover, since they run on electricity, and are equipped with solar photovoltaic panels, they don’t add to air pollution, like road traffic.
Moreover, the cable cars don’t only have economic and ecologic benefits, they are built with a social purpose. In the hilly La Paz, they connect the areas of the city which were before difficult to reach and took hours of bus transport to get the citizens to the city centre, complicating reaching work, school, or other city facilities, such as hospitals.
To make sure all Bolivians are able to have a ride on the cable car, the tariffs are kept low, yet, a strike some years ago lowered the tariffs more.
The cable cars are even linged up with the neighbouring city of El Alto. Between El Alto and la Paz some 3,000 passengers per hour are transported. Imagine all these people commuting by car or public transport. A world of difference, for the congested roads, for the air pollution, for the people.
And yes, the system is still expanding, under the current term of president Evo Morales, interesting considering that the current network is constructed in 2 years only.
I wrote an article on it: