Monday, October 18, 2010

Kristin's Corner - Bolivia

We left Bolivia more than a week ago, so I guess it is about time I wrap up our time in Bolivia with, once again, the top things that Kevin missed (he actually missed a whole entire city this time - I know, shocking).

1. Overview

I absolutely loved our time in Bolivia. As Kevin said in an earlier post, when we first decided to go on this trip, La Paz was the city I was most excited to visit out of all of the cities in South America. I am not entirely sure why - maybe because it is the highest capital city in the world or maybe because I did not have a clear picture of what it would be like in my mind - but it did not disappoint. From the moment we drove into La Paz, I felt so excited to be back in a big, bustling city, but one that seemed very traditional at the same time. Since I had spent so much energy being excited about La Paz, I did not really think that much about the surrounding areas of Bolivia, but they definitely held some of the most surreal landscapes I have ever seen. It is amazing how 300km north of La Paz is the amazon basin; 50km west of La Paz is Lake Titicaca; and 500km south of La Paz is the salt flats and the gateway to the driest desert in the world.

2. Parades

The bizarre parades are something I will miss about Bolivia. At the most random times, huge parades of people, usually dressed in costumes, would go singing and dancing down the street. One morning in Copacabana we almost got knocked over by a parade of people where everyone was dressed in ghost/goblin types of costumes. That same afternoon we heard the sound of a marching band and pulled to the side to have a parade of people dressed up in recycling-type costumes (i.e., newspapers and bottles glued to them) go dancing and chanting by us. The best part about these parades was that Copacabana is a small town and these were fairly significant parades - basically the whole town must have been partaking in them. Here is a picture of the recycling parade coming towards us:

3. Poverty

Travelling in Bolivia was more difficult travelling than in Peru or Colombia, which I guess makes sense since it is the poorest country in South America, but I also felt that it was more "untouched" than some of the countries we have visited. One of the most notable signs of the poverty is the garbage. Everyone just throws their garbage wherever they want, which means that the surroundings of each town is basically one big garbage dump. I had a tough time understanding why these people just dump their garbage everywhere and anywhere when it is so obviously ruining their environment; however, after seeing the way certain Bolivians live (actually, I lie, after talking about it with Kevin - he seems to be a bit more sympathetic and insightful than me!), my opinion changed. Garbage disposal is less of a priority than other more basic infrastructure projects that many of these towns are still working on. It was pretty sad to see... Below is a picture a few kilometers outside of one Bolivian town, where the garbage disposal started:

4. Sucre

In between our time in the amazon and our time in the salt flats, we visited the beautiful city of Sucre. The city was very different from the other cities we visited in Bolovia, and had a greater aura of sophistication to it. The people seemed noticeably wealthier and we felt very safe at all times of the day/night. Our trip to Sucre also came at the 3 month anniversary of the start of our trip (which sadly also means we are halfway done our trip) and we used it as a base to get ourselves organized and for me to get over a chest cold. We had a tough time leaving Sucre, partly because it was such a nice, easy town to stay in, and partly because of the hostel we were staying in. We were some of the only guests in this hostel, our room was fantastic and we have never gotten so excited about a breakfast as the free breakfast in this hostel. As Kevin said "this is not only the best breakfast of our trip, this might be the best breakfast of my life". Here is a picture of me having a glass of Bolivian vino in the loft that we even had in our room (yes, I know, maybe not the best way to get over a chest cold!):

Click here for a few pictures of our time in Sucre. Note that Kevin wanted me to mention that the captions are mine, not his. I'm assuming he isn't expecting much and doesn't want anyone to confuse them with his own.

Thanks for reading and I hope that all is well with everyone back home! xox

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