I’ve never kept a diary/journal/blog before, so let’s see if I can keep this up!
Getting to know La Paz
I’m sure it’s cliché to say, but La Paz literally takes your breath away – both because of the altitude and the spectacular views in every direction. Getting from the airport to my hostel via the Teleférico should have earned me a rest, but I headed straight out on a walking tour. The content of the tour was up there with the best I’ve been on, but after three hours I was about to have my first run-in with altitude sickness.
With that in mind, I haven’t done much since that first morning. Fortunately, my arrival coincided with the celebration of the revolution in La Paz, so I watched the parade in Plaza Murillo on Friday night. I enjoyed being part of the occasion and it felt like the whole city was taking part.
I wouldn’t say I’ve got to know the city or the people yet though. I’ve been staying in a hostel, largely talking to English speaker backpackers and I’ve only eaten in one restaurant (recommended by the walking tour guide and both meals there have been pretty good).
So now it’s the eve of my first project and there’s so much I don’t know about what’s going to happen over the next few days and months; it’s both daunting and exciting.
I don’t feel “prepared” for this at all and, if I’m honest, I haven’t given the actual volunteering that much thought. Which is strange given that I’ve flown 10,000km and paid to be here.
My first thoughts are about the other volunteers who I’ll be sharing the experience with – how many will there be? Is anyone else starting tomorrow? Will anyone’s Spanish skills be as weak as mine?
Then the project itself: I’ve never worked with children before; nor animals; nor in a culture that doesn’t speak any English.
It’s a lot to be taking on all at once and I know there will be challenges. Culture shock is real and total immersion is going to be a completely new experience. But there are plenty of people to support me and I’m looking forward to it.
So let’s see what Up Close Bolivia has in store for me.