January 11, 2014

Estoy en Bolivia!

During the long plane ride from Miami to Bolivia, I alternated between sleeping (rather unsuccessfully) and reflecting on what my stay would be like with Michelle and her family. Every now and then I glanced out of the plane window, but since it was nighttime, I couldn’t see much. Finally, around 5:45, I got the view I had been waiting for.

Viewed from a plane are a wing, clouds, and land below

The rugged landscape of Bolivia is an amazing sight. I couldn’t get over how beautiful the mountain peaks were, especially with the wispy clouds hovering around them. Soon, the plane descended and I stepped into the El Alto airport.

When I say that Bolivia took my breath away, I mean it literally. Michelle had warned me that the altitude took some getting used to–however, I wasn’t prepared for the light-headedness that hit me!

I collected my baggage and went through customs with little difficulty. When I stepped out of the main area of the airport with all of my bags in hand, I saw Michelle and her mother waiting for me with huge smiles and open arms. My dizziness was forgotten as I embraced my best friend. It was amazing to finally be in her country and meet her parents! Her father was waiting for us in the van, and after warm greetings and embraces, we set off for home.

Michelle and Paige smile together

During the ride, Michelle suggested that we pull over to the side of the road so that I could take a picture of La Paz from a certain angle. It was a great idea: the view of the city was incredible.

The City of La Paz, Bolivia, with clouds above

 

After a bit of driving, we arrived at her house. As soon as I stepped inside, I loved it. The warmth and hospitality of her family combined with the arrangement of the house itself made me feel totally comfortable. I met their dog, an energetic black lab named Woody, and was reminded of my own dog, Duke. They advised me to show him little attention so he wouldn’t get too hyper. This was difficult because he is so cute! I also got to meet Michelle’s sister, Natalie. I was so happy to meet everyone. Soon, however, the altitude sickness returned with more force. Michelle showed me to the room I would be staying in, and I took a long nap. By the time I woke up, I was feeling much better.

A wooden bed covered by a blanked with a sign on it stating "Welcome Paige"

 

About an hour later, we had visitors! Michelle’s three “cousins” (not related, but known since early childhood) came over. Together, we chatted, ate ice cream, and played a game similar to charades. It was a lot of fun, but soon I was feeling a bit under the weather again, so I had to excuse myself and lay down. Michelle came up to my room with a hot cup of tea, and assured me that the altitude sickness would go away within a day or two. It was important to take it easy on the first day to avoid overexertion. Despite the temporary illness, I was just happy to be with her wonderful family in such a beautiful country. Things could only get better.

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