Oh, if our passports could talk! A quick look at the numbers and some stories and lessons behind my newly-fattened American passport.
This is it. After this, no more.
– An American embassy employee in Berlin hands back my passport with a third – and undoubtedly final – set of extra pages.
What do you think of when flip through your passport? Countries visited? Number of visas and passport stamps? Possibilities? Continue Reading »
The Bolivian Salt Flats. If you haven’t already been to the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, put it on your bucket list. Continue Reading »
Lake Titicaca, big stuff. South America’s largest lake, the world’s highest commercially navigable one. And if you take it all in from Bolivia’s Isla del Sol, something beautiful. Deep blue skies hang above inky fresh waters, clouds pop over a lonely landscape, and the whole scene is wrapped by the 20,000 foot snowcapped mountains of the Cordillera Real.
It’s one thing to admire the lake from the shores of Copacabana, Bolivia’s main outpost on the lake, but it’s another to hike the length of Isla del Sol. Breath-taking, quite literally. Continue Reading »
Have you ever heard of the banana millionaire? Continue Reading »
When we browse photos from a faraway place to which we’ve never been, we find that the entire visual panorama — the faces, the clothing, the landscape — looks so similar that it blurs any lines of distinction.
When you get up close, though, all the subtle differences have a way of evincing themselves more clearly. Continue Reading »
We eat the mountain…and the mountain eats us.
– David, a mine guide and former miner in Potosi, echoes a decades-old sentiment about the city’s lifeblood, its world-famous silver mines.
It was late morning and the sun was bright, the sky crystal at 13,400 feet in Potosi, Bolivia. We were being tended to by a group of schoolgirls dressed as nurses at a hygiene fair; they sought to teach us the methods and benefits of properly washing our hands.
The mood: uplifting and hopeful.
Contrast this with just the day before. Continue Reading »
While the people of Tarija, Bolivia will keep you hanging around, it’s the wine – surprisingly drinkable and made with grapes grown at an elevation of 6,000 feet — that Tarija is best known for.
Continue Reading »
Oh, Tarija. The women there are beautiful. It’s their smiles. They are the dream of every Bolivian man.
– David, our Bolivian guide for the Salar de Uyuni tour, delivers an animated testimonial for one of Bolivia’s lesser-known cities.
Cafés with outdoor seating line palm tree-dotted squares; cars broadcast opera from open windows as they cruise the plaza; wine lists measure longer than food menus; tablitas (ham, cheese and olive tapas plates) are standard fare; and smiles are in ample supply.
A Mediterranean-style culture smack in the middle of South America? Tarija is not your typical Bolivian town. Continue Reading »
I need to fill up the tank completely. Finding gasoline in Chapare can be unreliable. It’s one of the ingredients in cocaine production – and that gets first priority.
– Alvarro, our client and guide in Cochabamba, Bolivia explains why it’s necessary to gas up in the city before heading into the jungle.
Paraguay customs. We had just crossed the 200 mile desert frontier with Bolivia. Border agents dressed in knit shirts, their shoulders adorned in crossed Paraguayan and U.S. flags, scanned our bus’s contents –- all of it piled before us. As we waited for a drug-sniffing Labrador retriever to finish pacing and pawing suspect bags, we figured it was time to bring the cocaine story to its finish.
And just as we thought this, the guard approached, “Miss, place your bags up here. We’d like to take a look.” Continue Reading »
Thanksgiving may be over, but I’m still thankful.
We admit it – we are the worst bloggers. Many wrote their Thanksgiving posts a week or two before turkey day while others prepared something to publish on the day itself.
Then there’s us.
We intended – we really did – to publish a reflection yesterday, but life took over and filled our day with a raft of experiences and emotions.
As we engineered our Thanksgiving dinner in an under-equipped Bolivian kitchen, we reflected on the kindness of people like the chicken rotisserie guy who came to our rescue with a smile…and a bottle of chicken drippings. And as we longingly recalled Thanksgivings past and the family and friends we spent them with, we reminded ourselves once again of what we are thankful for. Continue Reading »