Friday, May 20, 2011

¡Bienvenidos a Bolivia!

The team from left to right: Sara Monti (Junior, Industrial Engineering), Sara Allen (Mentor, Grad student in Environmental Engineering), Andrew Santos (Junior, Chemical Engineering), Ben Lord (Junior, Environmental Engineering)

Wow! What a crazy past couple of hours. After gathering at RDU airport, we flew out on a 7:35 flight to Miami, arriving just in time to catch the red-eye flight to La Paz, Bolivia. After boarding at 10:30 and enjoying the scenic views of the Miami runway while taxiing for an hour, we lifted off and the journey really started to sink in. Adios America!

During the six and a half hour flight, we were treated to delectable airline food, two crying babies, and the joys of sleeping in strange position. As we were flying in, just outside the window, we could barely make out the ice caps of the Andes just a few miles below us. Very cool. Upon landing in La Paz, we were whisked customs and thrust into the brisk mountain air of El Alto (the airport of the highest capital city) just in time to catch the sun rising over the city of La Paz, casting beautiful shadows on the surrounding mountains. The only hiccup till that point happened to be some technical difficulties on the user end, turns out for land lines in La Paz you dial 02, not 01, 001, 002…you get the picture. We were able to get touch with the front desk at Hostal Tambo de Oro.

We got checked in and headed to the bus terminal to get our bearings on the city. The bus terminal is gorgeous, it is a large yellow and white building as seen below. (insert image of bus terminal). We collected maps and ventured off for some desayuno, we found Café Moss where we were treated to a buffet that rivals the lovely food of Golden Coral. Highlights of breakfast included, hot evaporated milk, papaya juice, huevos y jamon, and a smorgasbord of breads. After breakfast we headed back to the hostel and got some much needed shut eye. We woke up bright and ready to adventure out into the city, after just a few more bumps in the road. Turns out we had yet to become superstar cellphone users and after a few attempts were able to get in contact with Luc our Save the Children contact here in Bolivia. Luc has instructed us to take a 1:00 bus on Sunday afternoon and will reach Cochabamba in the evening.
After our naps we took to the streets slowly, it turns out that some of the climbing at this altitude leaves a few of us short of breath but not short on smiles. We have explored some of the city which includes landscaping similar to San Francisco.

The hostel is not located far from the museum district and we were able to find the Museo de Instrumentos Musicales de Boliva , we decided to spend a few moments and wander through the museum. The museum is a private museum and was extremely educational. Highlights included sections devoted Ernesto Cavour, who traveled around the world playing the Charanga, the hands on portion of the museum (playing the accordion and beer bottle xylophone), and two lovely birds named Bach and Flores lived in the courtyard, with solar oven. After the museum we took in lunch with included some sampling of llama and quinoa (sandwiches, crepes, and empanadas). After a delightful lunch, we took to the market and explored the streets and took in some of the culture of the town.

Luckily there have been no serious issues from altitude sickness (some minor headaches and shortness of breath but everyone seems to be championing through). And we are looking forward to a fantastic authentic dinner here in La Paz.

Hope you’ve enjoyed our updates,

The Sara’s, Ben and Andrew


  1. Sounds like fun! I love quinoa! I make it quite frequently, so perhaps I can bring some to an EWB meeting for a Bolivia theme. :) Never had llama though...