Bienvenida a Bolivia! Taking your breathe away…literally

One of the best ways to nourish your soul is to seek out and do the things that totally absorb you in happiness, things that call to you… things that fill you up. It’s important to balance your life with the things that MUST be done AND the things that we do simply because of the joy that comes with it.  Life is meant to be enjoyed, not merely endured. There are simple and small things that we can do that will refuel our souls. It is different for everyone. For me it is travel. We all need to make time to do these sorts of things if we want to live meaningful lives. You will be better at everything that you MUST do if you take time to do what you LOVE to do.
Don’t get sucked into the falsehood that taking time to nourish your soul is selfish and futile. It is ESSENTIAL! It doesn’t take anything away from anyone…it only adds to the goodness that you already have inside of you. Do something that puts a smile on your face…just for the sake of doing it. Little miracles will happen….promise ♥

Visiting Bolivia is a unique experience. Arriving in La Paz at 4am,  I made my way through Bolivian customs after obtaining my $135 visa, exchanged $300 USD and ended standing out front of the airport in search of an official cab with “AEROPUERTO” on the door (my host warned me to avoid any other taxi to avoid being kidnapped.)  Such a beautiful view as my cab made it’s way down through the snow capped Andes hillsides covered in shimmering lights of the city below.  He rolled through stop lights and intersections like they were yield signs, but I arrived at my destination in a timely manner.I arrived to my host’s house at 5:30 am, dragging my feet to the gate I was greeted with a hand written sign that displayed my name and the smiling face of Ronald. He welcomed me, showed me around the house and introduced me to my bedroom. Barely holding my eyelids open I said “buenos noches” and went to bed.

The sight of the early morning sun hitting the terracotta houses stretched up and around the surrounding mountains was gorgeous.  Ronald asked if the altitude was affecting me, other than feeling like a 500lb. person being short of breathe when I climbed the stairs, I was feeling pretty good. It only takes a few hours to notice the differences at high elevation when coming from a lowland or coastal region. The air at high altitudes has less of everything: oxygen, pressure and humidity. It may surprise you how much your body misses these simple elements. (When traveling to high altitudes be sure to acclimate your body to avoid and sickness) We whipped up some eggs, tomatoes, freshly baked bread and tea to start off the morning.

Setting out to explore the city we hopped in a mini-bus/taxi bus with a teenage boy sticking his head out the side window shouting out bus stops at the speed of a silent auction dealer. Making our way towards San Miguel we passed several traditional Cholitas waiting for their bus to arrive. I was warned that locals usually ask for pay to have their picture taken or are superstitious of it affecting their soul/spirit and it is always polite to ask first before snapping away.

There is something very appealing about a city that has such a buzz. There is an air of enthusiasm about the local inhabitants that consists of more than thirty native ethnic groups. The city itself doesn’t need much time to take in, but you should plan your stay according to sights that you’d like to see. Two of the biggest attractions here are the touristy area known as ¨the witches market¨, where you can by any number of souvenirs (authentic or otherwise) or something a little more unusual like a llama fetus may tickle your fancy, either way I don’t think you’ll be disappointed and the death road bike path that I plan to explore when I return from Uyuni.

Half the fun of walking around the city is trying not to get run over by crazed motorists. You can spot dancing zebras (people dressed in costume teaching children how to properly cross the intersections with stripped lines, also known as zebras)

You can also find entertainment in the items being sold in some of the street stalls, it kind of makes you wonder how on earth they make any money selling all of these knick knacks and how many people make such purchases walking to work in the morning. Some more bizarre examples included a stall of only brightly colored shoe strings and safety pins, the seemingly 90 year old lady selling screwdrivers, and the man with a whole stand of padlocks, any and every size you could think of. There are plenty of useful items as well, snacks, hygiene products and newspapers but its always fun to find the unusual items.

We wound in and out of the city streets, visiting Plaza Murillo, the top of Killi Killi to view the city from above, Calle Jaen named one of the most beautiful streets in La Paz, known for its famous, haunted ghost stories, San Fransisco Church in the city center

The next day was an adventure to El Valle de las Ánimas (Valley of the Ghosts). We got our empanandas and were off! It looks like something that you’d see out of Lord of the rings.  We trekked through these amazing vertical pillars of rock as the wind whistled through the canyon. You feel as though you’ve gone back in time. as you pass tiny Aymara settlements where life hasn’t changed in centuries.
With each step deeper into the valley and further up in elevation I could feel my heart beating faster and my breath shortening. We climbed to the top a peak for a nice view and a little snack break. It was a perfect day for a hike. The sun was shining brightly, there was a nice breeze blowing with the aroma of lavender filling the air.

This cute little guy was chopping down these plants that resembled mate, but he said it was to heal your a soar throat/couching/allergies and he was collecting them to sell so he could make money for his family. As I mentioned earlier, be prepared to pay to take pictures of locals, my pocket full of change was not good enough for this woman. She threw it on the ground and reached her hand back out to me for something of a little more value.

Coming back into town as the sun set we met with a group of friends for Dinner at Las Piratas and ended the night with some fun stories and a lot of laughs.

In a few hours I will be traveling from La Paz, hopping on a 13 hour bus ride to Uyuni to explore the Bolivian Salt flats. I will be away from electronics for a few days, but get excited for some fun picturesamigos, hope you´re all well!

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. catbirdinoman
    Aug 06, 2012 @ 12:08:50

    Wow, the Valley of the Ghosts looks amazing!


Leave a Reply

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 260 other subscribers

%d bloggers like this: