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.
There are things no one really tells you about traveling. In most blogs or travel websites you can find stories about great adventures, breathtaking scenery, language learning, making friends, getting to know new cultures, etc., but rarely does one read about the challenges that come with a nomadic life.
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.
When we crossed from Colombia, we immediately noticed we were deep in the Andes. Andrea and I found that we suddenly towered above most people in the immigration line, but quickly realized our height was no advantage when it came to tackling hills and mountains at altitude. We constantly reveled in seeing lamas and alpacas walking the streets and had our breath taken away by the stark mountain views.
We laughed, and laughed, and then laughed some more. I am still a bit dumbstruck at how easy it is to press pause and play with good friends. Time passes by and sometimes you don’t see each other for years, but when you press play again, it’s as if no time has gone by.
We love the change, the challenge, and the variety that comes with constantly being on the move, but we do occasionally miss knowing our way around. Stumbling upon this family-run restaurant in Quito helped us feel grounded. We found comfort in their food and their company and felt truly welcomed. Sometimes what seem like the most banal, everyday moments, like having breakfast, can become some of the most powerful memories, if you’re open to it.