Updated: Feb 21
In previous posts I've discussed the best things to do in La Paz, and the things we liked most. But as Jocks Away is an unbiased travel blog, it's important we also cover the bits that aren't so much fun.
Top 7 Things We Didn't Like About La Paz, México
1. The weather
Yeah, we love the weather in La Paz. Most of the time.
Here's the thing though. If you build a city in the desert, you don't necessarily invest a lot in edge cases of weather. In the UK, famously, the transport systems collapses if the temperature rises above about 30°C. Or drops below freezing. Or rains a lot.
In the desert it doesn't rain often. But when it rains... oh boy, does it rain.
I had a root canal booked for Wednesday. The dentist called me the day before to cancel, because of the forecast rain.
"It's fine", I said, "I'm literally on the same block as you. I can get there whatever the weather."
"Ah, you don't understand. Sometimes the power goes out, and I hate having to stop half way through." 😮
This is what I'm talking about:
The roads are not built with drains and culverts. They literally turn to rivers. Businesses and schools close. During this particular downpour, which lasted about 24 hours, both my landline and mobile internet were knocked out.
Bottom line: great when it's sunny, but a bugger in a storm. Thanks to Mrs Wench for the photos, and her bloody-mindedness about getting to Zumba in the storm.
It was - of course - closed.
2. After you've done the Top 10...
La Paz is a glorious place to spend time. Good weather, great scenery, people, food, water sports and wildlife. What's not to like?
The trouble is, especially if you're used to living in a city like London, you're used to a bit more... bustle.
There's no delicate way to put this - it's kinda small, and there's not all that much to do.
Don't get me wrong. One of the reasons we chose La Paz as our first stop was precisely because it's slower-paced, peaceful and uncomplicated. We needed a lot of that after the 6 months or so it took us to organise the move, extract ourselves from work and retrain.
And I completely get that people would want to spend winter here, or take a couple of weeks out every year from Mexico City, Guadalajara, the US or Canada.
But 3 months in, it's enough. We're recharged and looking for somewhere a little more vibrant. La Paz, for us, is a perfect example of a wonderful place to visit, that you wouldn't want to live in.
3. Public Transport In La Paz
I like public transport. Trains, metros, buses are usually cheap, and they're a great way to experience the quirks of a new city.
This is absolutely true for La Paz 😀
There are no trains or metro. It's too small. There's the usual tension between the old-school taxi drivers and the new wave of Uber drivers that is common in so many cities. (Uber in La Paz is safe and cheap - it's around MX$40-50 for trips around town, depending on time and distance).
Then there are the 'buses'. The peseros or colectivos.
The idea is straightforward: owner-driven buses service fixed routes. You hop on and off at corners or stops, and pay a flat fare of MX$10 for the privilege. Easy. If you know where you're going.
I'd been in town for a few days when I went to the Tourist Office to ask if there was a map or timetable for the colectivos. The young woman looked a bit sheepish, and apologetically explained that La Paz doesn't have a "modern" transport system.
We eventually figured out that if you know the area you're heading to, you can read it on the front of the bus. If you know which roads the buses run on. And the correct name of the district. Great for getting from centro to Walmart; tougher if you're aiming for your boxing or Zumba class.
Even some of the locals we met admitted they couldn't figure them out, and just used Uber.
I suggest you do the same, if you need to get anywhere in a hurry.
4. The Variable Internet
As mentioned above, the internet here is pretty good - when it's working. I've now used 3 wired connections plus one Telmex residential hotspot.
On a good day I've had connection speeds up through to 40/50Mbps. (Just tested my Telmex wired line, and it's giving me 33Mbps up/22 down). However, that performance can change. A lot.
Partly it's because we're in Airbnbs. They are often shared with others, which isn't really the fault of the network. But that 40 meg can sometimes drop to around 5-6 meg, or lower.
To be honest the most reliable - albeit not fastest - connection I've had since getting here has been tethering to my phone and a Telcel Amigo SIM. It's worked pretty smoothly and consistently - apart from the hour when it, as well as the landline, were knocked out by a thunderstorm (see above.)
Note for gamers: if you use a residential hotspot, be careful as you can't usually change the NAT settings. You may not be able to play online - the Telcel one I used was like this and I had to say goodbye to Super Mario Kart!
5. Guard Dogs with Attitude Problems
OK so look, let's get something straight: I love dogs. I love cats, dogs, otters, basically anything fluffy and cute, or feathered, or swimming. I even like reptiles.
But in Mexico - or at least in La Paz - everyone has a guard dog. And they are, in large part, little bastards.
It seems to be a thing in Mexico that if you have a house, you have to have a guard dog. Their job is to run around in the yard, scaring the bejesus out of people harmlessly walking past, minding their own business.
This is bad enough during the day, when the worst you're likely to do is drop your shopping. At night in the dark - say, after a pleasant sojourn in Elbuen Bar - you're liable to soil yourself.
Honestly - I love dogs! Take these little tykes. Don't you just want to rub their heads and scratch them behind the ear?
These are the problem. This is the cast of characters I'm talking about:
And don't even get me started on the chihuahuas. Chihuahuas have no right to be guard dogs.
I refuse to be intimidated by something weighing less than 2kg ! 😂
6. The Pavements / Sidewalks
As far as I've been able to find out, Mexico does have regulations covering how pavements are laid out, to what standards, and so on. However, implementation of these appears to be left to individual contractors.
On top of that, I don't understand whose responsibility it is to maintain them. It seems likely that it's the individual homeowners, as they frequently change abruptly between properties.
Some are very professional. Some less so. Some are overgrown with trees and bushes, and force you to walk into the road to pass them, before cutting back in in front of the neighbours. In some cases, they're genuinely treacherous - especially in the dark.
Around the centro, especially along the malecón things are excellent - very accessible and in good condition.
Venture out a little, though, and you need to watch where you're going.
7. Honestly? Having To Leave :)
La Paz is a wonderful venue. We couldn't have picked a better place for the first stop on our trip. It's warm - the people and culture as well as the weather. It's got world-class marine life, fantastic scenery, birds, good food, and fast internet.
You can live here easily enough. But for us, there's just not quite enough going on. That's why we're moving on. But La Paz will always be special for both of us - and I'm sure we'll be back.
Next stop: Guadalajara!
If you enjoyed this article, I'd love you to share it! You can use the buttons below 👍🏻