And then I got stuck in Bolivia.

The time had finally come, I was finally ready to move on from Sucre, Bolivia. Except I couldn’t. I ended up being stuck for another 15 days. I am a planner. I did a ton of research before I left. Research says you need to have a back-up for your ATM card and then if you want to be really careful have a back-up for your back-up. So, I did. When I went to use my primary ATM card (which I had been using without issue for three months) and I got a message saying it had been destroyed by an ATM machine “for my protection” I didn’t panic. I was annoyed but I just used my back-up card which was pre-authorized to be used abroad. Except since I hadn’t used it in three months and I was in Bolivia where if something can go wrong it will go wrong… when I tried to use the card it triggered some alarm with the bank at home and was shut off permanently. You know, also  for my protection. More pissed but I still didn’t panic. When I realized that my third ATM card, the back-up for my back-up was actually expired because honestly who uses there back-up for their back-up… that was when I started to panic.

At that point I was still hanging out in Sucre for a bit and thankfully I had made lots of good friends from the hostel that I could borrow money from. Bolivia is dirt cheap so I managed to live on about $145 that I borrowed (including a few drown my sorrows during happy hour mojitos) for the next 15 days. My parents were able to get me replacement cards and when they arrived my sister was able to overnight FedEx me a package through a work connection. FedEx should have taken no more then two days. It took 17 days.

My phone booth buddy.

My phone booth buddy.

The package was lost in Bolivia. Not good. Everyday I would walk to a small store and call the Bolivian FedEx Office. More then half the time the number wouldn’t connect. The majority of the other times no one answered. The few times I actually spoke with a real person and I was sent on a wild goose chase. I went to many places around Sucre where my package might, maybe, possibly, should, definitely will be but never was. I held it together. As soon as I would walk back to the hostel every bartender, maid, office worker and all my friends would ask the same question… did you get your package?!?! I had the pleasure of saying at least 10 times a day, no, it’s still lost. The day I finally found it I went to three stores in three different parts of the city probably walking a good seven miles because I didn’t have cab money (which in hindsight would have been about $3). When I finally found it I cried for the first time on my trip (wasn’t too dehydrated to make tears this time.) I went to the ATM and then went to a nice restaurant and ordered a giant ice cream brownie in celebration! When I got back I shouted it from the balcony that my package finally arrived – there was lots of cheering! I paid my friends back, paid my remaining bill at the hostel and peaced out the next day for La Paz, Bolivia.

My package FINALLY arrived including a fun new scarf.

My package FINALLY arrived including a fun new scarf.

La Paz is a crazy-intense, super hilly city located about 12,000ft above sea level.  I had been warned quite a bit about how dangerous La Paz can be so I was pretty nervous. Everything in La Paz is a struggle. It seems no matter what direction you are going in it is uphill and at 12,000 feet every breath takes a bit of effort. I was thrilled to meet up with Josta (someone I would later run into many times throughout my travels) so that I had someone to do some exploring with. The city really is amazing. So big, so crowd, so much going on but like I said, kinda nerve racking too. Together Josta and I did some exploring and some shopping! For me La Paz was really just a layover on my way to Rurrenabaque and to be honest, I couldn’t get away fast enough.

I ended up having to spend three freezing nights wrapped up in my llama sweater and avoiding going out at night. If you want to you can make La Paz a real party city but it just wasn’t my scene and I never felt safe. I just ate bad hostel food and read a lot while I was there. I finally had a semi decent wifi connection and was able to call home too which was nice!

You're not legit on the South America backpacker scene without a llama sweater. (Ellen, I'm talking to you!)

You’re not legit on the South America backpacker scene without a llama sweater. (Ellen, I’m talking to you!)

Beside shopping with Josta my favorite thing in the city was going up the metro cable. The metro cable in La Paz is so modern it is almost too modern. It is beautiful and efficent though. You fly over a HUGE cemetery. I’m bad at guessing space but I would say at least 5 football fields worth of cemetery. Crazy. Also you go over some decent areas of the city and lots of slums. The bird’s eye view is a little sad but mostly amazing.

 

After my Amazon tour I had a had two more days in La Paz. I was more then ready to leave and excited to head into Peru!

 

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2 thoughts on “And then I got stuck in Bolivia.

  1. Hi Sarah~ So glad to get your updates and it sounds like you’ve been having a great time and quite the adventure! You’ve got all the skills to handle the misadventures as well…good handle on the language and great people skills!

    I hope you enjoy the rest of your adventure! Cheers. Mo

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