At around mid-morning Cutin decided to go to El Alto. It was interesting for him to realise how some of his actions would put him in contact with activities he has had in Oxford and in some places in Europe.
First of all was getting on the Puma Katari. It was great when other passengers arrived and everyone was wondering about the queue. “Good morning sir. Where does it start?” With few passengers in the bus and with few cars on the road, very quickly he reached the Central Park.
When he started to walk up the mountain to reach the cable car station, he got to the frontal part of the Ministry of Agriculture, promoting the 2014 International Year of Family Farming, in which he had been working for more than a year.
He kept walking and after crossing a very traditional area, he reached the cable car station. He went inside ant it was like going into any cable car system, be it in Medellín, Monte Baldo (close to Garda) or in the Alpes. The cable car system in La Paz links La Paz ( 1 m people) and El Alto (a growing 1m people becoming a new city!) and passengers pay Bs/ 3.00 (that is 40 p in the UK). All announcements are in Quechua (or Aymara?), Spanish and English.
Not more than 10 passengers per car. After crossing over I don’t know how many labyrinths of red-brick neighbourhoods in about 10 minutes, we were at El Alto, over 4,000 metres above sea level. Built by the Austria’s company Doppelmayr it can move 18,000 people an hour! When it is completed this year, it will be the highest and longest cable car system in the world.
After a few hundred metres from the station Cutin went into a completely different world. He got into the 16 of July Avenue. This was a very special place. It looked like any poor suburban area in Bogota or Lima or Quito or Sao Paulo, dedicated to trade on whatever you might think: cars, motors, dampers, electricity, glass, etc., etc. Then he got into the motorcycle parts, and then the bicycle blocks. At the first roundabout he turned right and then he got into the ‘polleras’ area. All the stores mixed with a few very tall and modern buildings where traders have built their headquarters. On top of these buildings they have built special areas for their homes.
He tried to eat something, but… there were no restaurants. He could only find street food and he didn’t dare… It would be better to go to Hotel La Casona in La Paz. He walked back to the main station and descended in 10 minutes to La Paz!