(November 5 – written by Dave)
Today marks a week since we arrived in La Paz. We are getting settled in our apartment, finding nearby grocery stores, coffee shops and laundromats – all those things that are necessary to make life comfortable when you are in one spot for more than a couple of days. The apartment is two streets up from the malecon (the boardwalk along the water) so the location is pretty good. It is small and unfortunately no views but we have tried to make it a bit more comfortable with some additional kitchen items (including a kettle!) and adding some of our maps to the wall to make it a bit less stark. It does have air conditioning, which we have used as it does still seem hot to us here. Fortunately we also just got a fan from the landlord so that will help as well.
We have made almost daily visits to the great cafe around the corner from us (Dolce Romero), trying out a different cookie each day with our excellent cortados. They have great bread, rolls, pesto and yesterday we noticed that they had Greek yogurt and humus in the refrigerator case so we will be sampling those in the future. Yesterday we found the farmers market (held on Tuesday and Saturday mornings) and bought some good veggies and fruit, including a watermelon.
We stumbled upon another great cafe a bit further from our apartment – DoceCuarenta (or 1240) – that also makes great coffee and food. Today we stopped on the way back from our walk along the malecon and picked up two flat whites (they are even on the menu!) – made perfectly. We are going to try to get up and do a walk along the malecon in the mornings before our walk to try to keep some activity going while we are here. Otherwise all of those tasty pastries will be adding a lot of extra weight to our bikes when we start again in January….
We have been studying a bit, trying to speak Spanish when we are out and about, with some success. Nancy says I sound like an Italian, as when I don’t know the Spanish word I use the English one and put ‘o’ at the end – funnily enough, it seems to work sometimes! Tomorrow we start our Spanish classes – 3 hours a day in the mornings, five days a week, with hopefully lots of practice in the afternoons. I am sure our heads will be swimming in confusion for some time to come but hopefully we’ll learn enough to interact with the locals a bit more as we head over to the mainland and down south.
Finally, today we wanted to include a shout out to my good mate Al Giacchero. Al and his wife Dorothy live in Wheeler, Oregon and have been good friends of our family for years. For the last 30 or so years, Al has been fishing the Nehelam River and has probably caught more Northwest salmon than anyone out there. He taught my dad a lot about fishing and every time Nancy and I visit the coast, Al takes me out for a troll.
I seem to catch a lot of fish when I’m with Al. He says it’s because I know what I’m doing. I think it’s more because I’m out on the river with one of the best unofficial “guides” there is. Salmon season is just about over for this year and Al’s pulled his boat from the water. He is now focused on getting the off-season maintenance done.
One of Al’s off-season chores this year is some maintenance on himself. The week after next he is having heart surgery. Even though Al is in his eighties, Al’s a tough guy and we know he’ll do just fine with the surgery. You’ll be in our thoughts from Baja Al –good luck, and we’ll see you on the river soon.
Here are some impressions of La Paz…