La Paz, Bolivia
By Maria Chiarella
It has been five months since I arrived in breathtaking (literally) La Paz, Bolivia. My experience working and living in La Paz has been like no other. I have learned so much in the past few months, from leading workshops to knowing how to properly haggle. But I have also found myself frustrated and angry (a lot). Living in La Paz is not easy; internet is slow, and at times non-existent. There are still many social, environmental and economic problems that seem so easy to fix, from an outsiders perspective, but are obviously more complicated than that. And most days I curse at La Paz’s uneven and unpaved roads, because I honestly trip at least twice a day. And if you have not had some sort of stomach flu/infection, have you really lived in Bolivia? It is a rite of passage to feel like your stomach is going to disintegrate from eating something you assumed was perfectly fine.
Despite all that, I can honestly say that La Paz is one of the most fascinating cities I have been to. The way I see it, what doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger, and La Paz has definitely made me strong (and also almost killed me once or twice).
One thing that has helped me stay positive through the tough times, including the time I accidentally brushed my teeth with sewage water, has been to keep a gratitude journal. For about a year now, I have written in journals, noting the simplest to most significant things that happen to me. This form of mindfulness helps me focus on the great things that do happen, rather than dwell on the negative. Now that I am ending my internship in La Paz I want to have only positive memories of my time here.
Anyway, here goes my list of things that I am grateful for in La Paz:
- I am grateful for the teleferico rides in the mornings. I am always in awe of the mountains that surround La Paz, specially snow-capped Illimani.
- I am grateful for incredibly cheap fruits and vegetables (Mercado Rodriguez is the bomb)
- I am grateful for the long bus rides to Viacha, when I get to listen to music and tune out
- I am grateful for our amazing boss in Viacha, who has treated us with kindness from day one
- I am grateful for all the incredible people I have met here and all the friends I have made from all over the world
- I am grateful for all the traditions and festivals La Paz has, and that I get to learn a little more about a culture I didn’t know about before
- I am grateful that I get the opportunity to follow my dreams of working in sustainable development
- I am grateful for unlimited papaya juice
- I am grateful for the endless parade of street puppies, especially the ones dressed in sweater vests
- I am grateful that my job is never boring. Everyday is a new adventure
- I am grateful for my time here, the lows and highs. It has been an experience of a lifetime
- Lastly, I am grateful for vegetarian salteñas