Was really interesting. And unexpected. And broken.
Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in South America, without a lot of infrastructure or tourists. Before spending last month in La Paz, I didn’t know what to expect, as I had only seen the picture of the city on the Remote Year website. I didn’t do any research for Bolivia and figured that I would learn about it in the five weeks I was about to spend there.
Leaving Buenos Aires was a sad day, and I felt like I had only just scraped the surface of the city. I was so happy to have had two months in Argentina, and I will definitely be returning to BsAs (as soon as IAS needs to open an office there…!?). The first two months of RY were so fun, the food in BsAs was amazing, and I felt like my remote life was on track.
And then Bolivia turned it all upside down. Quite literally turned me upside down.
Upon arrival at the El Alto Airport, we saw the city views and were in awe that a city like this exists in the mountains. The views of Illimani mountain are incredible, and it’s hard to even picture how the city was built up in the middle of the mountains. Our home for the month was located in the center of the city called Sopochachi and we were all intruiged at what the month would bring.
Our fearless leader Travis set our expectations for the month before leaving BsAs and told us that La Paz would be full of “Level 3 Fun” aka not the most traditional month of our lives but we were going to roll with it and find out what he meant.
The first week, everyone struggled with a bit of altitude sickness. La Paz is the highest capital city in the world, situated about 12k feet above sea level (for reference, Denver is about 5k). Headaches, swelling, weird dreams and heavy breathing were all too real the first week, but we powered through and saw the city from the top of the cable cars to take our breath away even more. The views from El Alto are incredible and I took my fair share of selfies with the views in the background, excited to discover the rest of the city.
We had our Welcome Party the first week at a secret bar that felt like an “I Spy” book come to life. The party was complete with a Shaman reading fortunes with coco leaves (he told me that two people are in love with me and that my job is going well), drag queens, and a buffet of cow hearts… welcome to Bolivia! And to add to the first week, we went to Cholita Wrestling the next night. And if you don’t know what a Cholita is:
Cholitas are indigenous women in Bolivia who wear colorful skirts, little hats and have long braids down their backs. And they just so happen to put on a wrestling show for confused tourists in a warehouse-type place in the city. It was probably the strangest thing I’ve ever paid money to see, and just as confusing for anyone watching my snapchats that night. But this is Level 3 fun, so we’re going with it.
The first weekend was spent at an incredible eco-lodge, located about an hour from the city. We left wifi behind and spent Friday night laying on a trampoline in the mountains, drinking wine and stargazing. When we woke up on Saturday, we were greeted with the most incredible views of the mountains and spent the morning in awe.
And then the real fun started. A group of about 30 of us woke up at the crack of dawn on Sunday and headed up the mountains of Bolivia to face Death Road. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this… it’s typically considered the world’s most dangerous road, and has become a popular mountain biking trail for idiot tourists like myself (sorry Mom!). I have no experience mountain biking; the extent of my biking skills consist of riding back and forth to bars on my beach cruiser in Ocean Grove, so this was a bit different but I always like a good challenge. Five minutes from the finish line, I went down and here I am now, 4 weeks later and still in a sling with a broken collarbone.
Ask me for the full story in person, it’s a good one I promise.
I opted out of the surgery and have been buying as many alpaca scarves as possible to cover up the sling. The days and weeks following my little accident were spent taking it as easy as possible. I am so lucky and fortunate to have 70 incredible and helpful friends in my time of need, everyone helping with even the most mundane tasks of putting my hair in a ponytail and tying my shoelaces.
Luckily this didn’t keep me from trying to enjoy the rest of my month in Bolivia. I kept the sling on and went to Remote Nation weekend in Lima where the 3 current Remote Year groups came together for a weekend of networking events (and mainly parties). I fell in love with Lima and had an incredible weekend at sea level, away from the elevation of La Paz. Peruvian food is among the best in the world and I ate enough ceviche to last a lifetime.
Instead of the traditional MDW DTS at the beach and the Parker House, I spent this past MDW in the Salt Flats at the Salar de Uyuni. Honestly one of the most incredible places I’ve ever seen. The Salt Flats are about 4k square miles of salt plains that are the results of prehistoric lakes, and are surrounded by cactus islands, hot springs, and volcanoes. Despite the broken wing, I was still able take my fair share of selfies in the salt flats, but the pictures don’t even do it justice.
Month 3 was nothing less than lots of Level 3 fun, but I’ve officially checked Bolivia off the list.