After Buenos Aires, our heads still spinning from everything going on, our Cousteau tribe packed up and shipped off to La Paz, Bolivia. Let me tell you, it was a shock to just about everyone’s systems.
I really had no idea what to expect from La Paz. All I had heard was that I wouldn’t be able to breath and that there were lots of cool things around to visit. I have to say, both of those assessments were correct.
La Paz as a city is beautiful. You’re essentially in a bowl, so you can see all the homes around you and at night the city lights up like stars. Walking around though, even just to the office or up a set of stairs, would get you winded. I’m a runner, and I tried running and rarely could go a mile straight without stopping to walk. After Buenos Aires, though, the sunny sky and warm weather was welcomed, and most of us were happy, at least for the first few days.
Then the sickness started. I’m pretty sure at least 90% of our group was brought down to their knees by either altitude sickness, food poisoning or some combination of the two. One of our Remotes chronicled the experience quite appropriately with this hilarious video. Yes, it was that bad.
But, that didn’t stop most of us. One of the perks of La Paz is that it’s located perfectly to reach some of the most amazing ride trips and excursions, and we took full advantage of that. The first trip that we went on was a Remote Year planned excursion we dubbed, “Adventure Weekend.” After terrifyingly making my way down Death Road on seemingly unsteady mountain bikes, a group of ten of us continued on to a small town local town where we managed to find the one club, or bar, rather, in the town and proceeded to have a grand ol’ time.
The next day, we woke up early and went white water rafting. To one side of us was authentic jungle terrain and then up above were coca fields as far as the eye could see. As a side note, most of the coca leaves harvested are used for cocaine, surprise! After a snack, our group went on the largest zipline I’ve ever seen. Then we had another delicious meal including one of the best cheesecakes I’ve ever had, and continued our terrifyingly bumpy ride home. Mr. Smiles, our driver, only nearly killed us like a handful of times, too.
That following week, a group of three of us decided we hadn’t had enough adventure just yet. So after getting back Sunday night, we took off Tuesday morning for Isla del Sol, located on Lake Titicaca. To get there, we took a bus, that mid-way had to be floated across a river while we were boated, and then another ferry boat to the island itself. We made a pit stop in Copacabana, the coastal town where you ferry to get to the island and had some of the best Mexican food I had found in all of South America. When we arrived at the island though, well, there are really no words to describe how beautiful it was. The blue was piercing, and the locals were wearing traditional bright colored clothing that accented the beautiful coastline. We roamed around the island, had some terrible pizza and wine, hiked the next day, briefly, and concluded our trip with some beers on the beach. It wasn’t the full island hike that we had initially planned, but it was an amazing trip nonetheless.
After two back-to-back trips, I decided it was time to stay in La Paz for a weekend. A group of us decided to go to Chacaltaya and Valley de la Luna and do some city exploring. The following week was Remote Nation, which meant we had to save up our energy.
Remote Nation and the subsequent impromptu extended vacation in Lima almost deserves its own post. We were positioned only a few blocks away from the coast, which meant amazing running for the days I could gather myself and get out of bed. The first big group event that we had was a happy hour at a coastal restaurant, which was supposed to be followed by big family dinners. Naturally, our group didn’t make the dinner, but we did thoroughly enjoy some delicious sushi at the bar. That night we went out to one of the local clubs and made the most of our night. The next day, there was the actual conference component of the weekend. There were a variety of panels and workshops run by different members of Remote Year. The session I attended, which was called Storytellers, was run by one of our very own RY3 members, which was great to see. That night, we had a collective dinner sponsored by Remote Year and then moved over to the club next door. We ended up loving the city so much that Lindsay and I extended our trip so we could enjoy some more ocean-side ceviche and city lovin’. But, the trip eventually came to an end, much to her dismay, and we had to head back to La Paz.
As if we hadn’t had enough that month, Lindsay, Kirsten, Mo, Jeff and I took off for a couple days on the Salar de Uyuni. We went the same weekend as the Remote Year group, but decided we wanted our own adventure. The first day was a bit of a hassle with an overnight bus and then some issues with our reservation, but eventually we were on our way out onto the immense salt flats and a couple days without any connectivity. The first stop was the salt mine, then the flag field and then we proceeded out to do our series of miniature people photoshoots. I have to say, I was quite a fan of mine on the whiskey bottle. After that, we went to Cactus Island, an ironic name considering it’s location and my being from Arizona. After that, we caught the sunset for one more creative photoshoot and then headed to our salt hotel. Yes, the entire thing was made of salt; walls, floor, tables, the whole nine yards. The next day we woke up early for breakfast and then over to hike one of the mountains in the Salt Flats. It was brutal, but the view was amazing. After that, it was time to head back to town and back to La Paz.
Already exhausted from travel and all the activities from the month, but no less motivated to get out of La Paz and move onto Cusco, Lindsay and I decided to venture off on our own and head to Peru early. And boy was that an adventure.
Other items worth noting are: Food poisoning from sushi, the green line, El Alto, cholita wrestling, Route 36, Café Urbano, Vietnamese place, Copacabana, the gym we never used, coca leaves and tea, all the ceviche in Lima, surfing in Lima, the Digital Marketing Conference that I spoke at (and didn’t freak out, woo!), speeding throug lots of Harry Potter