Sunday, September 15, 2013

My First Week

Boy has this been a busy week! Today is my 8th day in Bolivia. In this past week I have gotten to know my host family, explored parts of the city, spoken lots of Spanish and started to learn the public transportation system.

I have a great host family! They are a very interesting group of people who are constantly willing to help me in any way possible. My father’s name is Carlos and my mother is Daissy. They have three sons: Carlos (Carly), Raul and Tono (the last two live with us). Tono has a daughter, Andrea, who is a few years younger than me. They are always correcting my Spanish, which is a good thing, because I REALLY want to get better. My family also has 2 adult female cats and each one has 4 kittens. The 4 older kittens are leaving later this week :( 
(the 4 older kittens playing)

September 14 was the anniversary of the founding of Cochabamba so my mother and father took me on both Friday and Saturday to see the parades that celebrate this fantastic event. Lots of bands, marching and I even go to see the president, Evo Morales!

Tuesday is my birthday and last Monday was Andrea's birthday so we had a little party today with my family and some other people. Lots of good food, some rubix cubing and lots of fun!

Throughout FSD orientation this week I have traveled through the city. Last Sunday we visited the Cristo de la Concordia (Christ of Peace), which is the tallest statue of Jesus Christ in the world. Along with the other FSD intern, last Tuesday we explored some of the main parts of Cochabamba. We went to the main plaza - Plaza de 14 de Septiembre (the date of the founding of the province of Cochabamba), the post office and this really cool alley next to it and La Cancha (which is a huge market that stretches for many blocks and sells everything at very low prices!). In order to see all of these sites and more we had to use the public transportation system available to us. There are a variety of sized buses and vans that have a variety of routes. All of them cost 1.70 Bolivianos which is about $0.25US, no matter how long you ride on them. They also do not have stops, you just go to the most convenient point for you along their route and flag one down, if they have space they stop, otherwise they just keep driving. It is totally different than the bus system I am used to in San Francisco but I am having fun exploring it!

I am getting immersed in Spanish, not surprisingly. Orientation was in Spanish, I am talking to my host family or anyone I meet is in Spanish. It is overwhelming but I am slowly accustoming myself to it. And on Friday I  went to a meeting for Gaia Pacha (GP), the NGO I am working for, and participated in a 3+ hour meeting in Spanish. I start my first full day of work at GP on Monday and am really looking forward to it. There are 3 really cool sounding projects I could work on. One is about reducing the use of plastic bags, another is about creating more green spaces in the south area of the city and the third is education and I believe a photo/video project about wild animal trafficking. I’ll let you know when I decide on which project I want to focus on and give more specifics then.


  1. Hi Helena, I'm enjoying reading your posts. I just got a smart phone and am still figuring out how to use it. Need to discover Instagram so I can catch up with you... I think you gave up on FB, too many au pairs listening in?

    Do they sell beverages in plastic bags there? I've heard that that happens in some parts of the world. All of those projects sound like good ones. Have fun deciding.

    1. I haven't given up on fb. I have more access to that than I do to instagram. and yes they do sell water, chocolate milk and other beverages in small plastic bags. Thanks!