Thursday, July 26, 2012

Home Now- Pictures Coming

I am safely home now! Since I have stable wifi, I will be able to upload as many pictures as the blog will allow. This will be wild. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Past 3 Days

For the past 3 days I have been at my cousin's house in Mallasa. Had a great time! We rode his four wheeler up to this mountain area and rode around in the dirt. There was an amazing view. My cousin is obsessed with airplanes and Flight Simulator, so we spent a lot of time playing the game and downloading airplanes... it was a good time. As I write, we are preparing to go to a cemetery to visit some relatives, then have some ice crew, and go to a local botanical garden. Since I have limited internet, I have not been uploading that many pictures lately ( I have 150 MBs left). When I arrive home in 6 days, I will be posting my pictures like crazy, thanks to good old American wifi.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Day 12: Downtown Adventure

Yesterday, July 10, we ventured downtown to visit my aunt Lucy. Downtown La Paz, or "el centro" is extremely crowded. Since transportation is a private industry, there are tons of different ways to go into the city. However, the government sets all prices for bus fares. It's quite interesting.

El centro really isn't that far away, but there are SO MANY CARS and SO MANY PEOPLE that it takes about an hour to get into the city. My papito says that all Latin American cities are extremely populated and crowded. We rode a bus into the city for 1.5 Bs, about $0.22. We were lucky to get seats on the way into the city. I'll explain later.

San Francisco church
We had to make a stop at a bank for mi papito, but after going to the bank we went straight into the city. We got off at San Francisco church. It's a huge church that once comprised the city of La Paz. Attached to this post is a picture of the bell tower. All around the church are vendors selling Bolivian products. All in all, we bought a ton of Bolivian stuff. We bought tons key chains, hackysacs (sp?), necklaces, bracelets, a wallet, a Bolivian grandpa-style sweater, a hat with alpacas on it, and even a shirt that has the Adidas logo but says "Alpacas" and has alpacas in the logo. I even bought 3 shot glasses that will make GREAT decoration- shout out to Teresa Campbell from New Jersey... your shot glass that you requested looks great.

Lechon with potatoes and plantain
We had a great time in the city at my great aunt's apartment. She made us a GREAT Bolivian meal called "Lechon". "Lechon" is ribs and pork shoulder marinated in lemon overnight. Then, the ribs and pork are cooked in a yellow chili sauce with lots of garlic, cumin, and salt and pepper. It was AMAZING. Here is a picture of the food. My aunt is very hospitable, so we were invited to eat and eat and eat and eat. Writing this the next day, I'm still full!

Me and mi Tia Lucy
My mom and Mt. Illumani 
My aunt owns a 4 story apartment building with a spectacular view on the roof. We were able to take some great pictures of Mt. Illumani, standing above 20,000 feet. They are attached to this post.

After lunch with my aunt and her sons, (my mom's cousins) Cesar and Rodrigo, we went out for more Bolivian shopping. Before we left the apartment where I'm staying in Calacoto, mi mamita told me to not say a word in English or Spanish while shopping. If the vendors suspect you are a "gringo," or white from the United States, England, or any country that they expect you to be rich, they charge you much more for a product. I didn't take mi mamita's advice and spoke Spanish, and we did find some unusually high prices here and there- like a man who followed us on the street and offered a table decoration piece of fabric (don't know how to describe it) for 500 Bs, nearly $100! It was not worth that much, so we turned down the strange offer. The good part about the vendors making up the prices as you ask is that you can haggle the prices down. That's what me and my aunt did. I would ask, in Spanish, if a price seemed
 reasonable, and my Paceña aunt (meaning a native from La Paz) would say how we could find the item cheaper, proceeding to ask the vendor to lower the price. It worked almost everywhere. We make a good team!

A shop with various items on sale

Another shop with items on sale

The way back to the apartment was much more... stressful. From the plaza of the San Francisco church we had to catch a specific bus going back into Calacoto. There were tons of buses everywhere. Luckily our bus was right there at the plaza. We had to run to catch it. Once on the bus, we realized there were no seats, which is totally normal for a busy Latin American city. This would have been fine, except for my height so I had to duck the whole way until I could get a seat. The bus, made to seat 29, had 60 people at one point (I counted!) At one point there was a man who PAID to ride the bus, standing on the bottom step hanging out the door of the bus, having to hold on for every little bump and turn. That would never fly in the United States. I know I felt every bump and quick turn/ stop, so imagine how the man hanging out the door felt. When someone wanted to get off the bus, everyone would have to get off to let the person go, since the whole aisle was filled with people standing back to back and side to side.

We got home, safely, an hour after we left the city. It was amazing- such a great experience. I hope we can go back soon.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Day 7: Pictures from the Mountains

Enjoying life in La Paz. Here are some pictures of the mountains. This post is short because it is being written from my iPhone from wifi. Sorry about that!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Internet Connection

My apologies that I haven't been able to upload the pictures from several days ago. I thought I would have wifi to upload pictures, but unfortunately I haven't been able to access a wifi hotspot. Currently, I am using a Bolivian company, Tigo, and one of their products for internet: mobile broadband. The mobile broadband is basically a USB stick that connects my computer to Tigo's 3G network. Unfortunately, I have a limit of 2000 MB. The MBs go very fast and the pictures take a really long time to upload. I promise that the next time I have wifi I will upload the pictures to the appropriate posts!

Update 7/8/12:
The pictures have been posted!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Day 6: Fourth of July & Movie Searching

Happy Fourth of July! Sadly, in Bolivia there was not much celebrationfor this American holiday. There were, however, fireworks in the early eveningwhen the sun set. Didn’t get any pictures, but the fireworks were very nice. Ithink I even saw some Roman Candles and other fireworks that are illegal in the U.S.

Today, we went to buy some movies at local stores. Movieshere are very cheap. A DVD costs 10 Bolivianos ($1.44) and a Blu Ray costs 20Bs. ($2.87). This is what one of the stores we went to looks like. The DVDs andBlu Ray discs aren’t in such great condition, so you can ask for them to betested out. In the picture, that is why there is a TV at the store. They haveall sorts of movies, old ones and new ones alike. All though all movies havetitles in Spanish, they almost always come in English as well. Every once in awhile, a movie you test out is recorded illegally in a movie theater. Thequality is so poor that you don’t want to buy the movie. It’s pirated movieslike that, that probably explain why the costs are so low for the movies. Allof the movies I bought are good quality; although, some discs might be copies.I’ll never know.