On Sunday, we hired bikes from a shop in the Candelaria, the colonial part of town. To the south, north and west, the city of nine million stretches endlessly. Only a few blocks to the east, it stops.
Here, civilization ends; huge green hills loom over the capital in a reminder of the wildness that still reigns over much of the country.
In the city, the police and soldiers keep the fragile status quo from seemingly every street corner.
However, this is a very pleasant city to live in, it would be easy not to pay too much attention to the madness beyond its border.
Every Sunday, one side of the major thoroughfare, the septima or seventh, is shut to traffic.
Bicyclists, runners and rollerbladers replace of the usual chuffing traffic. Stalls are set up on the street side to supply fruit, food and drink, and provide repairs.
I’d not ridden a bike since my jaunt down Bolivia’s Road of Death and Susi hadn’t cycled since we left England nearly two years ago. La Paz is not cycle-friendly, in the way that Kabul isn’t ideal for stag parties.
Frustrated bikers happily back on two wheels, we pottered happily along, finding our feet on the alien pedals and adjusting to the roads.
We were quickly drawn into the park by the promise of people watching and loos. Girls competed at street hockey; boys belted a football; a mixed group played capoeira, while twanging and chanting; hundreds bounced more or less camply in front of stage doing Jazzercise.
It was great to see people enjoying being outside, mostly lying about eating ice cream.
A boy was being taught to ride a bike, while a unicyclist practiced on a new higher ride. He pedalled into a group of cyclists and fell off. An uncharitable part of me, that had previously kept itself hidden, found this quite amusing.
That’s wrong, isn’t it?