Welcome to the website of the Casa de Ciclistas in La Paz, Bolivia. It was set up starting march 2009. It is run by Cristian, who is a cyclist himself, and Luisa, his girlfriend. They have hosted over 600 touring cyclist by februar 2013 (260 by january 2011). The “house for/of cyclist” is a non-profit institution held by good will and passion. This is a description of it in the form of a questionaire.
The important things first:
How do i get to the house?
First contact Cristian by mail, cdc at conitzer dot de and anounce yourself. You can call him also to get the latest news. The actual address of the “casa” should not be public.
Who is Cristian?
I love to cycle: road, mtb and track, i also learned to monocycle, i love to play frisbee and repair things.
I am a physicist and enjoy meeting travellers and help them out in this city. I have been riding bikes since 10 and never stopped. Now i am an UCI-Bolivia oficial (commissaire), so from time to time I am working in races. I am always making bike trips, races, working at the workshop or driving around the city and i will ask you to be of the party. Surely you will enjoy that.
I/we do not longer work at the Chuquiago Bike Cafe Restaurant & Internet that Luisa and i set up by march 2009.
And who is Luisa?
Luisa is a phsycologist. She respects Cristians natural love for cycling. She is a passionate cook and shares with Cristian the idea of having guests, specially the ones on two wheels. After a few number of guest she noticed that cyclist are the “good guys” among the travellers, the ones who have more respect towards nature, the ones that leave things in better shape than found. She admires these “crazy guys” and enjoys when they give her some aid or teach her how to prepare a new meal.
Where do you host the cicloturistas?
Cyclotourists need a safe place to sleep when they reach big cities. La Paz is a quiet city and not really expensive to stay at an hotel. However i offer the fellow cyclists a place to stay. At the beginning i hosted them at home, but, since i was seldom there, it bothered mum, who lived there. Then the place was the cafe itself, normally cyclist extended their mattres there, but there were a few disadvantages. As time passed by, and as the amount of visitors grow, we made other places available for them to stay: Luisas home, the empty old house of grandmother, an empty apiartment and a piece of land in the shore of the city. The actual place is the appartment.
Does it cost something?
The short answer is yes. Some 20 Bs. a day and person, but it can be negotiated or traded. Read further.
Long answer: Yes, it costs us, the hosts, and since the number of guests was growing exponentially it menaced our economy. We decided to charge a fixed rated of 20 Bs. per person and day regardless where they stayed. It showed out that this is a good compromise.
At the beginning i just asked for a contribution but it turned out that the “contribution” was far below the net costs and that sometimes ruined things, excesive use of water or electricity exceeded the budget planed for hosting cyclist.
A also asked for a helping hand on different tasks like at the beginning setting up the computers, painting furniture, doing some garden work, mechanics on the bikes or car, painting walls or signs, etc. What i actually depends on the skills the person has, and what is actually to be done. I have enough ideas.
The most usual thing to do at the cafe was making the dishes. We were more than thankful when the guests helped us there. There were not a lot of customers, so it was not so painful. Some of the cyclist surprised us! They run the business: they prepared the breakfast, bought in the market, cooked and opened customers late at night.
Of course touring cyclist have a limited budget, and therefore the price can be negotiated. You can do some work, or leave something that can be sold later. You can also ask us to give you the space just saying that you will pass the word, or something else, surprise me with your ideas. You can do something at the place you stay for the amount you are supossed to leave. See this video. We are open to your ideas and necesities. Read also below: How exactly does the CdC work?
What do cyclists get for these 20 Bs.?
20 Bs. is a bit more than 2 US dollars. For that amount you get a quite appartment which you share with other cyclist with hot shower and a gas stove. There are some chairs and a cupboard. There are also a couple of mattresses and pads. It is a quiet place in the center of the city. You get a roof, a shower, a kitchen and a place to sit, relax, watch TV or read. Since november 2012 wireless internet is available with a password.
The best place to set up your tent is the lawn, it is even quiter and you get a beatiful view of the moon valley. A real place to relax. If you like arts, it is also the spot. My father, Juan Conitzer, a well known artist, had its atelier there and lots of its paintings are there.
If the appartment is full (maximum allowed is eight), you might be redirected to other friends houses.
There is also the posibility to use the workshop, which is in the big house, and to accompain me to cycling trips or other local cycling activities at, say, net costs.
If you like to sleep in, you may like the appartment, or the lawn/house in the shore of the city, in both places you can relax.
What exactly is a Casa de Ciclistas?
A Casa de Ciclistas, short CdC, is mainly a house of and for cyclists. It is born after an altruistic, say disinterested, idea of a person, mostly a cyclist itself, that provides the touring cyclists a space in its home. The CdC is not always a real house, it is more an institution that you can address.
The CdC is the meeting point for cyclist coming from all directions into town. It is the place to share experiencies and speak to the ones who have been at the opposite direction. As Luisa says, it is the place for group-therapy. You all need to talk and work on your (survival)-experiences….
The one who runs the casa will offer you its propertys and knowledge so you can rest and gather energy and information for the next leg of your trip. You can also send your things over its adress and get them when you arrive, or store them to later forward you.
Since it is not a real house, the “casa” can be anything that provides you a home during your time in that town. In La Paz many people said they felt at home while beeing at the cafe, or at Luisas, or at the big old house, etc. It is more our way of treating and providing you all the comfort possible, and solutions to your problems, rather than the roof itself which make them tell that.
There is a number of people around the world that give help and shelter to touring cyclist. Most of them are listed in the warmshowers.org list and at the grenzelos.ath.cx list. They offer hospitality to touring cyclist too. Members of those lists are bound to offer their hospitality, or whatever they offer, for free. That is possible mostly because the number of guest per year is not bigger than the number of fingers one has.
The Casa de Ciclistas is due the number of overnights not possible to run for free. If you feel like not wanting to pay, look for other sources.
Read further in the Other questions and helpful answers page