Tuesday, October 22, 2013

La Paz, Day 1

Hola from Bolivia! We have arrived safe and mostly sound and are currently getting our bearings, although we are taking our time to adjust to the elevation and moving pretty slowly.

We left Miami last night around 10:30pm. We were already a visible, and linguistic minority on the plane…possibly the only people who weren’t capable of speaking Spanish. Amelia stayed awake until take-off and then had a pretty good sleep on the plane. She laid out on a seat between Duane and I, and as far as I knew, remained there until we landed…Duane informed me this morning that at one point he woke up to find her standing on the floor with her head resting on the seat, still mostly asleep. At least she didn’t fall off the seat, right? Right?

We landed in La Paz at 5:30am, and immediately Amelia started throwing up. Poor little thing was so pale and weak…even though we had been taking anti-altitude sickness medication, she was still affected. In fact, we all were (are). As we left the plane we walked so slowly, and felt light-headed, experiencing the minor effects of the elevation. For those of you who don’t know, La Paz is just under 12,000 ft making it the second highest urban center in the world…Lhasa, Tibet being the first.

Our first view of the city was breathtaking (and not because of the altitude). There was just enough of a break in the clouds to cast some light on this spectacular valley. Buildings and shanties scale some of the most seemingly uninhabitable inclines, and there are mountains surrounding the city on every side. As we entered La Paz, it because clear to us that while the streets made absolutely no sense to us, people were very adept at getting around. There were no visible street signs (other than one hand-written one that I saw).

Our house is a shared accommodation. There are some other volunteers living here, although I couldn’t tell you how many people since we’ve been dead to the world since we’ve arrived. There is a really nice courtyard, and a small piece of grass that will be a nice area for Amelia to play on. We’re not sure how long we’ll be at this place…we’re just going to play it by ear and see if we like it and if it works for our family.

After arriving at our place we all immediately fell asleep in our massive bed…after about half an hour Amelia threw up again and felt awesome!!! Then she threw up again…wuh wuhhhh. That was at about 8am and she hasn’t been sick since, just really sleepy. Duane has basically been symptom free, and I have been sporting a bit of a headache and some nausea. There’s also the crazy feeling of your heart beating out of your chest when you walk upstairs…you know, like if you sprint, but here you’re only slowly taking a flight of stairs.

So, that’s our first day and we’re only halfway through. We are so looking forward to this adventure! We have no idea how to get around or how to find out house again if we leave, but that’s all a part of the joy of international travel! 

Thursday, October 17, 2013


So, we've made it to Florida and it's everything I expected and more!!! We are staying at this amazing bungalow rental in the middle of nowhere! Quite literally, our little place is an oasis in the midst of barren land. There are few trees and single level homes all around us and we are just offset from the highway, but when you enter the property where we are staying you'd never know that anything else in the world existed. Apparently they have about an acre of land and also doubles as a nursery, so we are among a cornucopia of foliage....bamboo, ylang ylang, and other stuff I can't pronounce or recall.

Our hosts are incredible as well! They have introduced us to their chickens (yes, there are also chickens on this property) and have given us some eggs. They also brought over gigantic avocados...the likes I have never seen before. I thought they were papaya they were so big. And they have also given us access to bananas. I might never leave!

Duane and Daren left this afternoon to head to the polo court for their first day of competition, and while they embarked on their journey, I embarked on one of my own...after Amelia's nap we walked (well, I walked while carrying her) about 10 blocks to a bus stop in 30 degree weather to head to the beach. We had no problems on the way there! Easy connections, very little waiting. And we had an amazing time at the beach! Amelia loved the ocean and the sand and the warm air and water! She didn't like the salty water in her mouth and eyes, but who can blame her? Before I could even get her into her bathing suit she was digging and crawling in the sand and running towards the water!

We played for about 2.5 hours before I decided that we needed to head back before it got dark. Good idea in theory. We ended up waiting at a bus stop for 45 minutes in the scorching heat with no shade while I tried to force feed Amelia grapes and water and block the sun from her tiny body. Finally I gave up. We walked (I walked) another 6 or so blocks to another more populated bus stop to wait an additional 15 minutes to get on a bus that wasn't really a bus, so I had to pay more money (even though I had an all day pass) which took me right past where I needed to go, but they wouldn't let me off because apparently it's against the law to drop someone off at a stop that's not yours. I ended up in tears. It didn't work. We eventually ended up in an ok place where we waited another 20 minutes or so for our bus to arrive and when we got to our stop it was dusk. I chose a more populated street to walk down, thinking that would be more safe, but it seems to me that men driving by perceived me to be a street walker (carrying a toddler!?!?) because I was honked at and waved at a number of times on the way home. Either that or I looked like someone that multiple men knew.

Amelia was entirely unscathed and would probably do the whole trip over again...which is more then I can say for myself. What a relief it was to walk into our little haven. I'm not sure I recommend exploring a new city with a toddler on your own....

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


In amidst all the packing and cleaning we've had to remember our yard, and more importantly, our garden. Oh, to live in an apartment at times like these (although the bounty when we return will be amazing). I've canned about 6 pints of salsa, 8 jars of pizza sauce, 8 jars of pickled beans, and about 9 jars of pickled carrots. Our pantry will be full when we get home!!!

Throughout this process I have been overwhelmed with the help from our community! Harvest never would have happened if two friends hadn't come over and dug carrots, raked leaves, and entertained our daughter. And I never would have finished canning everything without the help of a friend taking Amelia so I could work on my own! It's amazing how much one can accomplish without two extra little curious hands getting into everything. Thanks to all of you who have lent us your time and your help so we can prepare for our departure.