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  • Writer's pictureCharlys Trevino

Bolivia!

"Birth deals us out a hand of cards, but as important as their value is the place we are dealt them in". - Author: David Mitchell

I was born in Cochabamba Bolivia and the only one of my immediate family, other then my mother, that was born outside of the US. I am sure if you were to ask my brothers and sister, they would tell you that I am the least likely of the four of us to be considered Bolivian. I only lived in Bolivia as a child but I've always had a kinship with the Latin cultural. It was time for me to rediscover the country where I was born.

Copacabana was my first stop into Bolivia. Copacabana is on the other side of lake Titicaca and is a popular place among local Bolivians. I only spent a few days there and one of those days was spent recuperating from the altitude sickness I got when leaving Peru. I did get a chance to visit a beautiful Island off the shores of Lake Titicaca appropriately called Isla de Sol.

Cochabamba was my second stop and I spent two weeks as a guest in the house of the daughter of my mother's best friend. I had played some with Rita as a child but didn't really know her as an adult but we got along beautifully as if we had always known each other. She was a wonderful hostess and I felt right at home with her!

She introduced me to the family of her son's partner and they all made me feel like I had always been part of the "gang". They are fiercely devoted to their heritage and city. I spent "Cochabamba day" a city holiday with them all, dancing and eating. This city is known for it's food, tempered climate and fun loving people.

I visited the American Institute in Cochabamba, a school that my grandfather was instrumental in developing when him and my grandmother first came to Cochabamba as Methodist Missionaries. My grandfather became director of the American Institute, Pastor of the Methodist church and later ran the Hogar Paul Harris, a home for physically challenged children. I was glad to have been born into an expat family, I guess traveling to parts unknown is in my genes!

I said a heartfelt good bye to all my new friends in Cochabamba, who were ready to move me permanently to Cochabamba to follow in my mother's footsteps! But I had other places to visit in Bolivia. I headed to Santa Cruz for a few days, a big sprawling city with very tropical weather but my objective was to visit Samaipata. I've linked an overview of the pueblo but basically it is 3 hours east of Santa Cruz in a beautiful valley surrounded by the Andes.

I really like this little pueblo, it was super quiet, remote and the weather was almost perfect. Although there were quite a few expats living there from all over the world, it still was authentically Bolivian. I hope it stays that way! I met some super interesting people there and seriously will consider coming back here to stay a little longer.

My next stop was Sucre, the constitutional capital of Bolivia. Sucre is found in the south of the country and is known for it's universities. It's a beautiful city with whitewashed buildings and a gorgeous central plaza. Sucre has a youthful vibe with a substantial cultural scene of museums, arts and music.

I enjoyed my time there and loved my Airbnb! Situated a 10 minute walk from the center of town it was a small apartment in a beautiful family house.

From Sucre I headed to Uyuni which would be my last stop in Bolivia. I could not leave Bolivia without visiting Uyuni, home of the infamous salt flats! Getting to Uyuni is somewhat complicated and my best bet to make the most of my time there was to take a night bus (8 hour bus ride) from Sucre. This would be my first and last experience on a night bus. My Airbnb hostess recommended the "best" bus company that went to Uyuni from Sucre. I left Sucre at 9pm and arrived in Uyuni at 5am for a tour that would start around 10am.


I could write an entire blog on my experience on the night bus to and from Uyuni. In a nutshell, night buses are for the 20-30 something year old's with youthful bladders that don't need much sleep to be able to function fully the next day. Yes, there was a bathroom which I wouldn't want my worse enemy to have to use.


Did I mention that Uyuni is at an altitude of 3,663 m (12,018 ft)? There was that to contend with. Despite all the obstacles, I would do it again. I took a two day tour of the salt flats and surrounding area. Salar de Uyuni is the world's largest salt flats at over 10, 000 km or 3,600+ miles.

My two day tour landed me with two different groups. The first day touring the Salt flats I was with a family of 13 from Tarija, Bolivia. The salt flats are all about the pictures because after a few hours of driving on them there isn't much else to see/do.

The second day was all about the mountains and surrounding landscape. I hopped in a four wheel drive truck with a family of four from Cochabamba.

For me, this was the best part of the tour. I loved the mountains and landscape.

I spent a month in Bolivia and it seemed like a week. I made some wonderful friends and got all my Bolivian documents in order so it will be easy to come back and stay for as long as I want in the future. There is so much more to see of this beautiful country which I am proud to call my birth place.

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chrystal.in.blue
03 nov. 2022

Oh, what a wonderful post, my friend. I enjoyed seeing photos of the country of your birth. You are such a friendly person; it isn't hard for me to imagine you easily making new friends all around Latin America. A military pilot told me about the altitudes...he said they rode the escalator higher and higher from lower Columbia where the wing tips nearly hit the buildings as they flew down the street (40 some years ago), up to Quito, Ecuador with their simple airstrip, and finally to the top: Bolivia. I'm enjoying following you on your trek across South America .

Where are you headed to next?

Chrystal - from Ecuador

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