We remember our time in Bolivia as some of our best travel experiences in Latin America. Your money goes a lot further in Bolivia than anywhere else closeby, so it’s great for budget backpackers with a sense of adventure.
We came out of the mines grateful for fresh air, sunlight, and space to move around. I can’t say it was the most pleasant tour, but I’m extremely glad I went. It’s easy to discount stories of terrible working conditions from your couch, but meeting miners, putting on a jumpsuit, and going down to see where they work makes it much more real.
Overall, we’ve tried to toe the line, bringing enough for most, but not all situations. Andrea and I even brought our bags on hikes in Seattle to get a feel for what life would be like with so many or so few things.
As the sun rose, I was filled with a simple, unqualified joy. I inhaled, exhaled, and said thank you for the day, for the chance to be there, and to be alive.
It’s not much for them to live on. It seemed like a hard life to me, but I also realized that they are further away from the cycle of consumerism that defines so many of our lives. They’re always with family and spend time with each other instead of looking at screens. Maybe it just seems hard to me. When that’s all you know, why would you want anything else?
I highly recommend Peru to vacationers if you’re willing to fly domestically. Longer-term travelers can easily spend a month or two exploring.
Cuba is a blast from the past, but be ready before you go. It really is a world stuck in another time and it’s best to do your homework.
We’ve learned that we can’t go 100% all the time. It’s important to take time now and again for a “personal admin day” when we have lots to do or a “spontaneous weekend” when we’re just plain tired.
So what does it feel like to hike at 5,000 meters? Slow, mostly. We were all breathing much more heavily than normal and Andrea got hit with a big headache. At one point, Andrea even said that she felt drunk: she was processing information more slowly, felt uncoordinated (try to put foot in one place, her foot ends up somewhere slightly different), and couldn’t think straight.
We’ve traveled all of Colombia from north to south by bus, taken wrong turns, and felt the hairs on the back of our necks stand up more than once, but, so far, besides the occasional rip-off at a store, we have been blessed with a problem-free trip.