Views 15 Ene El Salar de uyuni
 |  Category: Must-see Travel Destinations

For the past two months I have been traveling around South America. If you have the time and the funds to travel during your stay in this beautiful continent I highly recommend it. From the towering peaks of Machu Pichu, to the colorful rocks of Jujuy , the diversity and grandeur of South America is unrivaled. While I could go on and on about my different experiences in the valleys, rivers, mountains and plains of SA, for the purpose of this conversation I would like to focus on one country in particular; a country that captures the very spirit South America: Bolivia.

Bolivia. I can still remember the excitement I felt entering this country. For the majority of the Western world, the border crossings of South America are quite a different experience. While in the states and much of Europe, frontiers are typically traversed via car, with a great formality of character, when I went from Peru to Bolivia, I literally walked across the border. Sure there was a check in point to leave Argentina and to enter Bolivia, but the actual crossing of frontiers was done on foot, void of any customs. .

At the risk of sounding imperialistic, there is something untouched about Bolivia. From the indigenous style of dress, to the local cuisine, Bolivia is yet to be overrun by the tourist. Few natives communicate in English, and the accommodation is at times very minimalistic. While aspects of the country still cater to the gringo traveler (the markets in La Paz, the mine tours in Potosi, the jeep treks of the salars), you get the sense that the Bolivian people still hold strong to their indigenous roots; the majority, not willing to compromise their culture for profit. While the indifference of Bolivians can be a bit jarring at first, with time you will become accustomed.

With that said, Bolivia provides a person with the unique opportunity to truly embrace the traveling spirit! Indeed, my experience in this country by far involved the most unknowns. For instance, .my first few days in Bolivia happened to be the weekend of the country’s general election. Everything was shut down, and thus we had a quiet day to explore the city, void of the the typical exhaust and traffic from pedestrians and cars. That night we had the opportunity to attend Morales re-election speech in the main square, as well as the after party, a party filled with local music and fireckracker of Bolivian make.

After four days of La Paz, my friends and I continued on to visit the silver mines in Potosi and Salar de Uyuni. While the mine tour went off without a miss, we had a very different experience in Uyuni. What we thought would be an amazing three day trek, was quickly cut short when we discovered our guide wasted in the desert on the morning of the second day. When we refused to get into a car with a drunk driver (considering there is huge fuel tank on the top of the car, and we had a ten hour drive ahead of us into the desert, we thought this was the right course of action) he left us. After 12 hrs in the desert, with little food or water, and no means of communication, it was time to take action. The result: fifteen gringos in a cattle car on the road back to Uyuni.

While I cannot pretend that after this experience, I was not per say, ready for a change of pace, when I think back over my time in Bolivia I can’t help but smile. One of the best parts about of living in a new place, traveling, and learning a different a language is that you never know exactly what you’re in for…

Bolivia is not be missed!

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2 Responses

  1. 1
    filter bag 

    Your picture is so beautiful.

  2. 2
    Marcela 

    Hola Yael

    My name is Marcela, I’m colombian and mad about traveling in south america. Sorry to hear what happend to you in Bolivia but i’m happy to know that despite that you still had a good time.

    And talking about good times, have you ever been to Colombia? If you haven’t you should do… you will love it!

    I have just starting my blog about Colombia, please check it out and let me know what you think.
    http://colombia-travel-marcela.blogspot.com/

    Abrazos

    Marcela

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