At first, Bolivia wasn’t the country I was most looking forward to visit but as the days and weeks have gone by, I’ve been amazed by what I’ve seen. This country has so many treasures, the landscapes are incredible and you would probably never see them anywhere else on earth. If you love untouched nature, this is the place for you.
I’d heard that Bolivians could be cold and quite impolite but it’s simply not true. The people I’ve met have all been kind and always happy to lend a hand or give me directions. For example, in the city centre of La Paz, Sylvie and I were looking for a bus stop and we asked a lady passer-by where we could catch the bus. She walked us to the bus stop, gave us both a big hug and, as she went on her way, told us to take care of ourselves.
Bolivians are just the same as people everywhere: they go to work and, in the evening, they like to meet up with their friends and go for drink. In the city, people wear mostly normal western clothes but you can still see women “Chollitas” who dress in the traditional way. They wear colourful skirts and the famous melon hats (love the hats!). In town, you would usually see Chollitas at the market. In the countryside everyone wears traditional clothes and you’ll also see the older man chewing coca leaves all day long.
I’ve been talking with a few locals and they are all amazed by my travel stories. They usually ask many questions about my country and about Europe in general. In fact, they are cultivated people who already know a lot about, for example, Switzerland: they know that four languages are spoken and how many people live there. I found this great as I probably wouldn’t be able to answer these questions about their country if I hadn’t been travelling over here. The other day, I met a Frenchman who told me that he’d only found out a couple of weeks earlier that we spoke French in Switzerland! Seriously?! “We’re neighbours, mate”, I told him. I was pretty shocked!
Also, I’ve never felt insecure in any Bolivian city, or elsewhere in the country. I feel safer here than walking through the streets of Lausanne or London. Nobody has caused me trouble. Of course, there are bad people everywhere and you have to be careful and always watch your stuff. I can thank my parents who taught me a great deal during our past travels, in particular my Dad. I’m a solo female traveller but I’m practically never alone. I always meet people from different horizons and it’s so interesting to talk to them and share stories about what they’ve seen, about their country and lots more. I feel truly blessed at the moment.
I’ve been travelling for tree months now and everyday is a new challenge. You have to get out of your comfort zone and sometimes it’s not that easy, but it has brought me so much until now and this will hopefully continue in the future. I’m so happy I took the decision to quit my job, it’s probably the best decision I’ve taken so far in my life. Travelling brings so much more than the day-in, day-out routine back home. I’m only starting to realise this now with just four months left. Time flies over here and it’s never boring as there is so much to see and discover.
Bolivia is a magnificent county. I know I’m repeating myself but I can’t find enough words to describe what I want to share with all of you. If you don’t believe me, come and have a look for yourself. Of course there are a few things that annoy me like the road blockades which can slow down your progess. But this part of travelling and you just have to deal with it.
I’m really sad to have left this incredible country. Bolivia has brought so much to my travel experience and I wish I could have stayed longer. Actually, I’m thinking of returning for a few weeks when I get to northern Argentina. I am now in Chile and everything seems so expensive compared to Bolivia and Peru but I guess I’ll get used to it. I’ll just have to be careful about how I spend my money.
I’m really enjoying sharing my backpacking stories with you. I do hope you continue reading my posts and that they will make you want to travel and live this incredible experience for yourselves.