The chance to see the final ‘Resident Evil’ film, in English (Spanish subtitles), the other week, was enough to tempt us into the posh suburb of Zona Sur, to the south of La Paz. We’ve been fans of Alice ever since she ran around some laboratory walls to drop-kick a zombie dog in the first film, and some more of that would be the right antidote if Zona Sur was as bad as we’d been told.
Zona Sur is down the valley from La Paz, although the spread of the city means there is no real gap between the two anymore. Some 50+ years ago it barely existed, being just a few large country mansions of the La Paz elite, and some small indigenous hamlets. These days it’s big and spreading fast, both further south past Mallasa, and east or west wherever any space in the mountains can be safely found to build a property. Zona Sur sits in a number of valleys/canyons, on flat spaces created on mountainsides, and anywhere else you can build – and thats quite a challenge in these parts. It’s a few hundred metres lower than La Paz and a bit warmer. It is made up of a number of neighbourhoods (barrios) such as CotaCota, San Miguel & Calacota, along with some seriously exclusive & gated urbanizations tucked away from the crowds.
Zona Sur is populated by the wealthy, the middle class, well-off foreigners & diplomatic types, there’s more ‘white’ people here than in the rest of La Paz. Parts of it are truly opulent in the Bolivian context, full of glittering towerblocks, posh shops & car showrooms, mansions & villas, malls and eateries – especially in the area around Calle 21, Av Montenegro & Av Ballivian.
But it’s not that different to the posher bits of central La Paz such as Sopocachi.
And its not all posh, there’s plenty of run down old buildings & generally poor quality knackered buildings, run down areas and typically badly maintained streets, some street art & lots of tagging, with plenty of indigenous folks here, including the ever-present street sellers. Plus many indigenous workers come here daily from La Paz & El Alto. Indeed we’ve seen posher & more exclusive neighbourhoods in Bristol & London back home! On subsequent visits we’ve come across a few decent coffee shops, lunchtime menu del dias for 25 to 40 Bolivianos (£3-5), and even a vegan snack bar with cheap soups & burgers for 15 Bols. However it was disheartening to see in some places the indigenous table waiting staff having to shoo away other indigenous people who were clearly down on their luck.
As for the film Resident Evil, it was on at the ‘Mega Centre La Paz’, and to get there we took the Linea Verde (green line) of the Mi Teleferico, which swooped up and down into Zona Sur – in daylight on the way and in darkness on the return, offering spectacular city views. There’s a funny story that in some parts where it travels over some posh homes, the residents complained about their loss of privacy, although it goes nowehere near to their rooftops as do the Red & Yellow lines on there way to El Alto. The film was great by the way, Alice kicked some more badasses, and despite a nasty twist in the tale, some feisty strong women won the day!