Bolivian Adventures!

Please, take your time and get to know the faces and scenery of our life!

April 30 , 2006 - Somos Padrinos de Dario. These are some photos from the ceremony (my first Catholic mass and our first Catholic baptism) and the small lunch/fiesta afterward at Colonia Ecologica.

April 22, 2006 -. Salar de Uyuni and Potosi

April 8, 2006 - Photos of Colonia Ecologica! The new library is under construction as well as the finishing touches on the upstairs ceiling.

March 8, 2006 - Some photos of our two weeks of Carnival. The 26th of February we went to San Benito for a Feria de Duraznos (Peach Festival). The 27th was spent partying and playing with water at the annual Cbba Tennis Club party that our friends invited us too. Tues. the 28th the folks from Colonia Ecologica invited us to their lunch and water fight. While the big Bolivian festival and parade happened in Oruro this weekend the Cochabamba parade or Entrada took place on March 4th.

Feb. 11, 2006 - We recently moved up to the top (14th) floor of our building. The views of Cochabamba are great! New Apartment Pics

Jan. 25, 2006 - Thought I would post a few pics of my week biking with the kids from Colonia.

Jan. 21, 2006 - Here are a few pics taken from our other time with Pattee and Loreeta on their South American adventure.

We took a trip outside of Cochabamba to some Inca ruins by the name of Incallajta. We also took a trip to a town in the notorious coca growing region of the Chapare called Villa Tunari.

Jan. 13, 2006 - Summer Vacation in Patagonia.

Dec. 08, 2005 - Camping with the kids from Colonia.

Dec. 01, 2005 - Toro Toro is Quechua for Barro Barro in Spanish which is the gloriously named Mud Mud in English. My old man used to always threaten to change our names to Mud if we didn't wise up. Toro Toro would have been a much better name.

Nov. 06, 2005 - Kiko, Favio, and Monica led a group of us gringos up a cerro near Cerro Tunari as a fund raiser for Colonia Ecologica.

September 05 - A day spent with the kids from Colonia Ecologica walking in the Anniversary of Tiquipaya parade.

July and August 05 - Our travels in Argentina, the US, and Samaipata.

June 2005 - Final year end Despedida at JR's.

May 15, 2005 - Hey all. It has been some time since an update has happened here on this site. Mostly it is due to lathargy and apathy brought on by too much of the Bolivian diet. Although medical treatment is relatively cheap in Bolivia compared to the US, when you go as much as we do you start making up the difference. We're thinking of cancelling our gym membership and just paying a monthly doctors fee. Taken straight from our bank account of course. Both of us are recovering from some form of salmonella/typhoid at the moment. Again. So not much has happened in our world besides antibiotics and rest.

We have recently (last week) moved apartments, which you can view pics of HERE. We share a large three bedroom two and a half bath apartment with our good friend Dan. It's rather nice and a big improvement over our last digs. 3 balconies in all. We partly moved in hopes to cut costs as I plan to not work at the school next year. I'm going to be acting as a contact for some friends who are leaving the country but want to continue running their local charity organization. Charity Bolivia sponsors a local project called Colonia Ecologica that houses orphans and acts as an afterschool supervision and study program for neighborhood kids. They are in great need of support. Feel free to visit their website and donate. $20 dollars in Bolivia goes much farther than it does in the US. We are considering starting up a US affiliated non-profit so donations can be deducted from taxes.

Last weekend Carlye took a trip to the Chapare with some friends to tour two or three national parks. The Chapare is in the jungle and is one of the largest Coca producing regions in Bolivia. There are a couple of pictures of locals packing coca into bags for shipment. The coca in the pictures is for domestic sale and not destined for manufacturing of cocaine. Coca has been used for centuries in the Andes to combat altitude, fatigue, and indigestion. Chewing the leaves gives you energy and decreases the appetite. Unfortunately, as you can see in one photo, they tend to pack the leaves into bags by use of feet. And I'm pretty sure the standards on foot cleaning prior to packing coca are not what they are in the States. I could be wrong.

March 28, 2005 - Spring Break - Just the way vacation is supposed to be. Carlye and I spent the first few days hanging around Cochabamba doing very little. Carlye had her first Volleyball game this past Tuesday so we wanted to stick around for it. This time also included much cussing about and very little actual watching of NCAA tournament games. Apparently soccer is a big deal here. (That may only be funny to those that know there are at least a minimum of five channels on cable at any moment of the day showing soccer. Usually more, especially on weekends).

So Wednesday Carlye and I boarded a plane for Santa Cruz and a three hour truffi ride to a small town called Samaipata, which stands for the "rest in the mountains." The place we stayed at was called "Finca La Vispera." It is an organic farm located in the foothills of the Andes. We fell in love with the peace La Vispera. The climate and surrounding gardens and landscape inspire rest in the soul. A truly incredible place. Carlye spent our few days there taking two naps a day and trying to recover from a very persistent cold. We read books, lounged, and ate good food from the garden cafe and good restaurants in town. So much did we love the place that we agreed with the owners to return in July during our summer vacation. I'm going to spend two weeks doing massage for clients and Carlye may spend a couple hours a day in the village helping teach locals english. I'll be working in a small building set up on the hill overlooking the grounds and valley. Click the link to see a couple pictures.

We also spent a few hours one day doing something other than sleeping, eating, and resting. There are some pre incan ruins not far from the town called El Fuerte, that we went and visited. The place sits on top of a solid rock hill with carvings done right from the stone. Nobody seems to know what its purpose was. The name was given to it by those that thought it was a fort. The spanish apparently used it for one for a while during their pillaging of S.A. But who knows. Some say it was a take off ramp for E.T. The people we talked to on the site said we had just missed a launching. Sometimes luck just isn't with you. Next time.

Ugly Clothes Party - Cochabamba is home of the largest market in South America, La Cancha. It is a sprawling, and I mean SPRAWLING, market comprising of (some conservative estimates) 26 city blocks. This includes blocks and blocks of used clothing, many of which are hideous. So we decided to host a party where all party goers had to make a trip to La Cancha to purchase the ugliest clothing they could find. This link is a small compilation of those outfits.

Basquet - Otherwise known as basketball in the rest of the world. These photos are a few while on my trip to Argentina for the South American League. We flew to Tarija, BO where we won an exhibition game against a local team before catching a 24 hour bus to the city of Rio Cuarto. We lost by 40+ the first game to the Atenas of Argentina and then by 56 to Flamengos of Brazil. I rolled my ankle in the first minute I was in of the first game against the Atenas never to return. I did play some the second game with the foot taped up tightly. I included a pic of it just for grins.

Carnival - The huge latin american celebration has been over now for almost a month. We still can't walk outside without looking up at open windows, tops of buildings, and cringing everytime a car rolls by with its windows rolled down. For two weeks in February Bolivia becomes a war zone; the air filled with zinging water balloons from passing cars, water bombs being dropped from the tops of buildings, and buckets of water being poured on anybody brave enough to walk to the local grocery store. Prime targets usually tend to be young women and gringos although nobody is immune to the battle raging around the country.

One Saturday afternoon at the start of Carnival Carlye and I set out to buy some groceries at the small market not more than 2 blocks from our home. We know we are at risk for getting wet, but we figure two blocks is not much. So off we go. The way to the store was pretty harmless with only 4 or 5 balloons thrown from the top of a 10 story apartment building. It is pretty tough to hit moving targets from that distance so we arrived to the store dry and feeling pretty good. We did our shopping and headed home, deciding to avoid the building throwing water balloons and to take another route. A much safer route we determined. Both of us were carrying two bags apiece. As we were walking down the sidewalk we notice some kids and adults throwing buckets of water at passing motorist who feel it is better to risk having an open car window than to be shut up in a steaming hot car (air conditioning is not common in autos here). So Carlye and I non-chalantly cross the street hoping to go undetected by the small group. Who is going to notice a giant pasty pale gringo and his gringo wife anyway? Just about the time we are walking past the group on the other side of the street two girls with full buckets start across towards us. This is a very busy street by the way. I decide "the hell with this. I'm not getting a bucket dumped over me and my groceries." So being chivalrous I break out in a dead sprint. Carlye can run for herself, which she did briefly before succumbing to the inevitable and taking three buckets over her head. Meanwhile I'm high tailing it down the sidewalk and then out into traffic with a girl and a bucket right on my butt. I'm zigzagging like somebody behind me is taking shots with a rifle. I feel pretty good about my athletic abilities when the girl with the full bucket gives up the chase. I am wearing Teva's and carrying groceries afterall. So I'm standing on the corner waiting for my drenched wife watching some other kids on the opposite corner hoisting water balloons. I realize that one of these kids is aiming my direction. It is a long throw and the kid has little chance of hitting me. I turn to move up the street a little farther just to be safe. I don't see it coming, but I'm suddenly hit square in the chest with what must have been a soccer ball sized water balloon. A passing car took advantage of me staring across the street. I was soaked from head to toe by one water balloon and a red mark the size of soft ball on my chest for the rest of the day.

I seem to remember back in my days of youth going on similar excursions with a couple of friends (who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty), a car packed with water balloons, and mischevious minds. Strange how many years later it turns out that our mischevious escapades are condoned, encouraged, and looked highly upon by a whole country. Anyway, it is good times. My guilty conscious has somehow been relieved by this event known as Carnival. A glaring contradiction seeing how one of the purposes of Carnival is to indulge in excess before lent.

So Carlye and I went with a group of friends to a city called Oruro, a small mining/industrial town made famous by its Carnival celebration. Thousands of people stream into the city to watch dancers in elaborate costumes, drink excessive amounts of Pacena beer, throw water balloons, and spray canned foam on each other. The weekend following Oruro is Cochabamba's celebration with slightly less people and less glitz. The pictures you will see are from these two weekend festivals.

Christmas Vacation - Well...well...Sorry for the delay for those expecting pictures up a bit earlier. I would excuse myself, but I'm not feeling witty enough to come up with something particularly clever. So...

Carlye and I spent Christmas break traveling in Northern Chile and Argentina by bus. Our friends Maya and Julie accompanied us, along with several good books. We left Cochabamba on a night bus. Some say we were bound for glory, but I say we were just headed to Arica, Chile. Passing over the second highest mountain range in the world on a 14 hour bus ride, we crossed into Chile at almost 5000 meters. Now, I personally didn't know much about Northern Chile. The coastal towns are pretty amazing; warm and quaint, sunny almost everyday of the year, plenty to do. But look east out of these towns and the desert looms up lonely and desolate. The desert in N. Chile makes the Southwest of the United States look like a blooming oasis, teeming with life and greenery. A walk out into the desert of Arizona amongst the cactus and brush seems like a walk in a rainforest in comparison. We're talking about dry. Some places receive no rain at all for the year. And except for those few spots where water somehow bubbles up from the ground, no life exists at all.

After two days in sleepy Arica, Chile, we headed for San Pedro de Atacama. (10 hours by bus) San Pedro is a town built for tourism. It might disappear into the desert without it, with nothing but a few dirt roads and empty restaurants left standing. The outdoor activities are what draw people to the town. Valle de la Luna captures spectacular sunsets after walking across a ridge of sand to stare at the desert landscape turn to a myriad of colors. The third largest salt flats in the world (Bolivia having the largest and Salt Lake City ranking second) are close to San Pedro. They sport an immense chunky landscape with salt lakes teeming with pink flamingos. Caving, biking, and hikes to high mountain lakes are a few things you can do. Here we also met up and traveled with a couple of really cool Israelis traveling for a year after serving their military service.

After a couple days in San Pedro we started looking for somewhere to spend Christmas day. We arrived in a beach town called Caldera at 5:30 am after another 7-9 hour bus ride. Christmas Eve was spent in the town plaza sipping on champagne. Julie's family has champagne every Christmas so the tradition was being upheld to nobodies complaint. The plaza was filled with people. A life sized nativity scene was prominently displayed along with the church completely covered in lights and a giant Santa Claus watching over all the good and bad little boys and girls. I'm not sure which we were, but we toasted ol' St. Nick with a little champagne to plead our case. Not to purposely carry on the dog theme from our Thanksgiving trip, but a pack of stray dogs decided to join our little Christmas party in the plaza that night. They apparently had nothing better to do than to hang out with the bunch of gringos having a good time. One had only one eye and a couple others decided to get a little frisky which prompted a quick close to our little plaza party. We wandered into a restaurant late in the evening and found the place full of the owner's family members enjoying their Christmas Eve together. They ensured us we were welcome and we ordered some food and a bottle of wine. As we sat there eating, drinking, and conversing, the family members became increasingly more friendly and realizing we were a long way from home and not with our families, made us feel at home. They brought us drinks, toasted us, and introduced themselves. The warmth with which we were treated was truly amazing. I think it made us all a little melancholy actually, seeing the family enjoying each other and realizing that all four of us were a long way from our respective families, most of us for the first time in our lives. We left soon after so the family could enjoy themselves customer free.

Christmas Day we found our way to a small town 5km outside Caldera called Bahia Inglesa. The four of us had scouted out the town the day before and made arrangements to rent a house 20 meters from the beach. We had stopped by the little snack shack on the beach to ask about the camping on the beach and after giving us some information, he informed us he knew a lady that rented her house out to the right people. We were a little skeptical, but immediately after seeing the little three bedroom place with a full kitchen, we agreed to rent it for the same price as it would have been to camp. This tiny beach town is known to be an expensive, Chilean hangout. So we headed back to Caldera to stock up on supplies for our stay. You'll notice the guy the orange vest pushing our shopping cart in the pictures. It was decided after we left the grocery store that we had too much stuff for us to carry. So we made off with the cart thinking we would bring it back when we were done. The guy in orange wasn't thinking the same thing. We tried to just ignore his first few yells, but he quickly gained ground on our shopping cart. Why is it you get the one bad wheel on the cart when you're trying to make a break for it? After much pleading of ignorance, both of the shopping cart policy and of knowing Spanish, the guy decides he'll push the cart for us. Exasperation I'm sure. So we tipped the guy and didn't have to walk back to the store at all. It took a full four days to go by before the travel bug would hit us again, urging us to leave our quaint home. We read, cooked our own food, relaxed on the beach, and played games. A great way to spend Christmas and few days recovering from the rigors of traveling.

Seven to nine hours later our bus pulled into La Serena, Chile, another Chilean beach town where we spent a couple days. La Serena is a great town with lots of restaurants, night life, and a gorgeous beach front. Unfortunately, it was cloudy both days we were there. Maya and Carlye did a night tour at one of the famous observatories, viewing some incredibly astrological features. After some discussion on where to head next on our journey, we decided to high tail it out of Chile and into the wine country of Argentina. A seven hour trip to Santiago by bus got us there just in time to catch a eight hour bus to Mendoza, Argentina. At some point in the middle of the night we had to get off the bus to get the stamp of approval at immigration.

Mendoza, Argentina was love at first sight for all four of us. The streets are lined with old sycamore trees offering shade from the 100 plus degree heat. Restaurants all over the city offer sidewalk dining with great food and even better wine. Most of Argentina's wines come from this region and we tried a hand full of them. We toured several wineries (called bodegas), went river rafting, hiking, rappelling, Maya and Julie went horseback riding, and generally we all ate too much ice cream. New Years Eve we spent at a hostal bbq in Mendoza, eating, drinking, and conversing with other travelers. After dinner we spilled out into the street, headed for the main plaza and ended up at a outdoor restaurant talking and drinking with a couple Germans. Somewhere during that night Maya donned her other personality and went incognito in a bright red mask that introduced us to many new people. Nothing like wearing a red mask and proclaiming to know nothing about it to start a good conversation. I'm stretching the truth of course, but the red mask did disappear at some point and has yet to show up again, leading us to that inevitable and moan inducing quote of, "What happened to that masked (wo)man?"

Six days in Mendoza concluded the fearsome foursomes three weeks of travels together. Julie was eager to hit the road for Peru and another month of traveling through Ecuador, Columbia and ultimately Costa Rica for a couple months of volunteering on an ecological farm on the Caribbean. I was anxious to rejoin my basketball team for a playoff game on the 10th of January. I've written about the trip from Mendoza, AR to Tarija, BO which you can read here (Hell's backdoor). It was a trip straight from the devils playground. Carlye and Maya continued to travel together for another week before heading back to Cochabamba and work. They traveled through Cafayate, AR, Parque_Ischigualasto_AR, and Tafi del Valle, AR that last week. They visited a beautiful national park, went horseback riding, hiking, and saw spectacular landscapes of the impressive Andes. Unfortunately, they experienced a similar trip as mine back to Bolivia. Details to come later on that. So that is it for now since we're back to the usual routine. Until our next travel adventure this coming weekend . . . ;)

Thanksgiving in La Paz - We spent Thanksgiving untraditionally this year. Carlye, Dan, Selena, Julie, Molly, and I jumped on a night bus headed for La Paz Wed. evening. Thursday we spent recovering from the bus ride, eating Cordon Blue for Thanksgiving lunch and spending dinner at a gringo estalishment that served actual microbrew. Friday morning we met up with a tour group to bike "The World's Most Dangerous Road" from La Paz to the sleepy town of Coroico in the jungles 65 kms and 3600 meters worth of elevation drop below. We spent the night at Hotel Esmerelda with stunning views of the world below. If you're wondering about the pics of the dog, well....keep wondering. Actually the dog followed our group (maybe 10 of us) to downtown Coroico for the evenings festivities. The dog led the way into each of the establishments we entered and was the dj for events. The dog was spinning cd's for the vorarcious crowd of karaoke fans. At the end of the night the festivities coordinator followed Kate (who decided to return alone) back to the hotel. All around saint, that dog!

Carlye's birthday in Sucre - Carlye and I spent the great day of Nov. the 14th in Sucre, the "Official" capitol of Bolivia.

Hiking near Tunari - Dan organized a hike Friday, Nov. 5th. Dan, Gertjan, Jim, Claudia, and I spent the day hiking around the foothills of Tunari. Shortly after we took a break for lunch the gorgeous 85 degree day turned rapidly, as it is apt to do at 13,000 ft. We quickly found ourselves pelted with hail and rain, soaking wet, and wondering what just happened. Seems as though we were all unprepared that day. The sun did return and by the time we reached the truffi to take us home we were dry once again.

Another Bolivian Festival? Naah!! - I honestly can say that I've seen more parades in my three months in Bolivia than I've seen in my whole life combined. I'm not even sure what saint or virgin we were celebrating yesterday. Nobody seemed to know for that matter. But who cares when you get to drink, eat, hang with good friends, meet locals, and watch incredible costumes and dances. Bolivians truly seem to know what it means to live full lives. As long as there is plenty of Chicha, Taquina, friends and family then life is good.

Dinner with Portlanders - A few pictures from the dinner we had with friends from Portland: Jim, Megan, and their two kids Mac and Jane. Jim keeps up a web blog about Bolivia that is hilarious. Check out the link on the left.

Day of relaxation - Carlye, Claire, Gertjan, Maya, Molly, Selena, and Wendell spent Sunday, Oct. 17th hanging out by the pool at a nearby resort. We spent the day swimming, eating at the huge buffet, throwing dice, napping, and sunbathing. Sundays rarely get better than this.

Cocktails anyone??? - Gertjan and Claire threw one great Cocktail Party Oct. 9th.

Tiquipaya Trucha Festival - A few pics and video from a nearby trout festival.

Saturday Market - A few pics of the local Saturday Market we go to each week to buy fruits, vegetables, and other goods.

Tunari - Yesterday, Oct. 3, we climbed up Tunari, the mountain peak seen from our balcony. Alex organized the trip and a guide took Selena, Paula, Claudia, Alex, Julie, Carlye, and I to the top. The peak stands at 5200 meters or a little over 17,000 ft and is the highest peak in the Cochabamba department.

K'oa - Monthly celebration of cultural rituals put on by local university students so as to not lose traditions.

Mary Jo's Bday - Mary Jo's bday party at JR's. Sept. 4, 2004.

Sihuenca - Camping trip with JR, Gertjan and Claire, Roberto, and Selena. Frest trout from the river. JR is the fisherman in the photos. Aug. 28-29, 2004.

Simon Patino Mansion - Mansion of the famous tin baron. Tours start on Bolivian time. Aug. 21, 2004.

Urkupina Walk - Pilgrimage to the foot of the hill where the virgin is seen. People take miniatures of things they want or need and place it at the foot of the hill. Within three years you will get what you asked for. Wendell slept while Carlye walked with friends. The walk started at 3:30am. Aug. 16, 2004.

Urkupina - Festival for the virgin on the hill. Huge party/parade. The largest festival in the state of Cochabamba. Aug. 14, 2004.

Cristo - Our trip to the Cristo with Dan and Selena. Cochabamba's Cristo is larger than the one in Rio. Aug. 22, 2004.

Dan's Bday - Celebrating the birth of our good friend and neighbor, Dan. Aug. 15, 2004.



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