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hi, i'm richard

dc general assembly web development immersive graduate.
patron software toddler. wino. corgi-enthusiast.

week one in bolivia: never trust a fart

ok, so here’s my obligatory apology to anyone who thought i was actually going to write at a consistent rate. i find myself choosing anything else over writing and i’m not really sorry about it, but i’ll say i am.

a couple big things i have done between cordoba(add link to past blog) and la paz, which i will (lol i swear) write about soon (lol seriously):

  • world cup qualifying match between bolivia and argentina

bolivia v argentina

  • 7 day trip to patagonia - argentina and chile side

torres del paine

an astute, and someone familiar with with the itinerary, reader might say:

“what about buenos aires?”

well astute reader the reason why i don’t have a lot to say about it is because i was instantly comfortable and felt right at home living there and in my accommodations. i didn’t need a period of acclimation or a period of getting used to the community. buenos aires is a city i feel i could live in for an extended period of my life and not feel like i’m forfeiting any comforts i’m used to in the states. this shouldn’t be taken as a bad thing, sean, but as a compliment - i love your city.

i swear i’ll circle back to patagonia but for now let focus on the biggest culture shock i’ve had since embarking on this adventure:

la paz, bolivia.

the suspense getting here was already very intense, as i hadn’t spent more than a week in altitude that wasn’t sea-level and we were about to be thrown into the highest capital city in the world (link to bolivia wiki or something), where they have oxygen tanks for rent in the hotels, and the other remote year group was reporting about an 80% illness rate by week 2. lots of positivity.

the flights (buenos aires -> santa cruz -> la paz) to la paz was pretty seamless, no one got arrested, or searched, or left behind so an overall success.


arriving here brought on a few sensations were weren’t feeling in b.a.:

  • it’s cold
  • it’s dry af
  • i can’t breathe
  • do i wanna throw up?

just a whirlwind all at once, but luckily we’re met with sustenance at the gate and a quick bus ride to our hotels, definitely not the luxury offered in b.a., but that’s to be expected - they have oxygen for us though!

the following morning is the first real acclimation day. i wake up as if i have been out drinking all night, altitude sickness feels like a brutal hangover but luckily only for an hour or so. coca tea, yeah the stuff that cocaine is made of, is available everywhere because it helps with the altitude sickness and no it doesn’t get you high (ok maybe a lil buzz…weeeee).

coca tea

walking to our cowering space feels like hiking a mountain. it’s mostly uphill and the altitude causes a shortness of breath and a quicker muscular fatigue. daily unintentional workout, that’s a win, right?

so many sensations

there are basically no people on the street today, come to find out its bolivia’s labor day, so it’s eerily quiet: no people, no cars, no shops open… but holy shit, every other day it has been an absolute circus commuting any and everywhere - i say circus kind of figuratively, i swear i keep hearing clown horns. anyway, i never know when to cross a street and just cling close to a local who is ahead of me and a bit more courageous than i am, i guess that’s the norm.

the streets are crowded with street vendors trying to sell you pretty much everything you can imagine: close, toothbrushes, food (do not), dolls, their unborn (kind of joking, re: witches market), etc. the city is so very alive but sleeps at normal hours, unlike argentina.

cholitos y cholitas

the average height for a male in la paz is 5’4”, i’m 6’0, it’s interesting. the women, called cholitas

cholita wrestling

dress in a very specific way (see pic) and are seriously built like mack trucks. they’ve also adopted an appreciation, if you could call it that, for us wwe-style wrestling and we were ‘privileged’ enough to catch a match

anyway, the city itself is the most photogenic city i’ve ever seen and could probably snap pictures of it all day long. it’s self aware of its beauty and provides you with the witch’s market for a source of eye-gasmic visuals and a way for you to satiate your weird side by selling very bright-colored everything from shoes to underwear, but then also giving you the option to buy voodoo dolls and taxidermied baby llamas…. yeah you heard right…


another very unique attribute of the city is it’s cable cars, aka gondolas. it has 3 lines, red, yellow, and green which take you from very low down to very high up in different areas and are a source of commuted and tourist trap being super expensive at 3 bs per ride (that’s about $.40 usd)… :p

butt, in all seriousness, don’t drink the water or you’ll end up like me for 2 days. thanks cipro, you’re my hero

salt flats and more awesome things incoming with rachel on her way here


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