Monday, November 4, 2013

First Impressions

So, we’ve been in La Paz for 12 days now and I have to say, this city is really growing on me. We are constantly discovering new and breathtaking views, and are amazed at how quickly and drastically the weather can change. The clouds coming over the mountains often speak of rain and thundershowers, and the booming claps echo throughout the valley. Even though we see this everyday, it doesn’t mean that it will rain. I haven’t quite figured out how to predict the weather. Most days have been warm and sunny…a nice fall day.

There are playgrounds everywhere here!!! I was pleasantly surprised (as was Amelia), so we have been frequenting a few of them. It’s unclear to me yet if the same people go to the same playgrounds, making it a market for new friends…time will tell. There are also plenty of green spaces, which they have placed in the middle of their round-abouts…cars whipping around, making this mother a bit nervous.

People don’t really seem to care whether we are here or not. It doesn’t have the same vibe of many of the other countries I have visited where you are a bit of a novelty and points and stares are the norm. We are free to do as we please without much notice from others, which is nice. Amelia still seems to draw some attention though…her tiny frame (making her the same size as many of the other kids her age here) and her blonde hair are a cause for cheek squeezes and “bonitas” from people of all ages. Teenage girls seem to pay the most attention to her. And old ladies.

Only 12 days in and I have already realized some things I have taken for granted, and which I am thankful for at home;
Clean water – We are boiling water all the time so we can wash vegetables, make coffee, etc.
Hot water – Each tap only has one faucet…cold water. We are also boiling water so we can wash our dishes in hot water. At least the showers have hot water, so I’m incredibly grateful for that. My first shower here was very, very cold because I didn’t understand how to make the water hot with just one tap (basically you have to nearly shut the water off to make it hot…the more it is shut, the hotter the water will be).
Flat topography – Everything is on a hill. Everything. You are either always going up, or going down. And we’re not talking about slight grades here…we are literally hiking. Our butts are going to be awesome when we come home!
Unlaboured breathing – Since we are so high in elevation, our lungs have not yet adjusted. We pant up hills, we pant while putting on our clothes, and we pant while stirring a pot of water. Standing up from sitting is enough to make you pass out. Amelia has developed a bit of high altitude sleep apnea, which scared me at first but her breath has been regulating itself as she acclimatizes.

We moved today…when we arrived in La Paz, we were staying in a shared house. It’s a massive home with more rooms then I even know. We were sharing with many Bolivians and a couple from the UK. There was a beautiful garden and a nice courtyard where Amelia liked to play. I know, I know, this sounds ideal but with all of the change our wee one has experienced we felt that it would be the best for her to have our own space. Any time anyone came into the kitchen she would stop eating. There were all sorts of tiny, breakable knick-knacks that she loved to play with that were at her level. I felt like I was always telling her to put stuff down. At least now we can make a home. And we don’t have to work around others in a small kitchen.

The new place we moved into is a small apartment very close to a nice area of town. An English guy lived here before us and left this place in a state…the expectations to leave a place clean apparently aren’t the same as at home. The place is cute though, and will be comfortable for us. We will have to get used to the sounds and smells that come from our surrounding neighbours (ie the thumping from upstairs, and the bell that seems to ring every 30 minutes from somewhere outside), but that’s all a part of living somewhere else.

There’s a lot more to say, but I think I’ll leave that for another post. Duane can update about the clinic and all that is happening there. Although this post was about all that we are getting used to and such, we are very comfortable here and are very happy to be living in La Paz. We like it here. Of course we miss our friends and family, but the winter will pass quickly and we will be home just as the flowers are poking through the soil. Adios for now!  


  1. Thanks for the update! You describe life well…..

  2. P.S. You will never FULLY get used to the altitude. Even by your last day you will be panting going up hill. 12,000 is pretty darn high. :)