At the end of September, I'm jetting off to South America to work in Bolivia until Christmas!
I'll be working with a charity called International Service, who develop projects in countries such as Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali and Palestine. Their goal is to fight poverty, empower citizens and encourage human rights action. It's a small charity, based in the quaint British city of York, but their vision is huge!
They're only partially government funded, so I've been running a fundraiser to build up some funds to keep the scheme going. You can have a look at my progress HERE if you like; I'm almost done!
It's a wonderful opportunity for volunteers, especially those who don't have access to these kind of schemes in their community. So, it helps people abroad and people back in the UK. Win-Win!
So, in Bolivia, I'll be working on health projects in La Paz, the capital city. There is an enormous amount of poverty in Bolivia in general, one of the poorest states in South America that, unfortunately, is ignored.
So why Bolivia? This happened unexpectedly. I attended an interview with International Service in York, thinking I was going to be sent to work in Palestine. A week later, they not only told me that I got the place, but they wanted me on a much more exciting project in South America. After some thought, I grabbed the opportunity and ran with it!
While I'm there, I plan to share some of the things I see and learn with you. I'll also share information, photos, and give you a flavour of what this country has to offer.
Bolivia, if you don't already know, is outstanding. Here's why:
1) The Amazon Rainforest
Bolivia sits on the edge of the colossal Amazon Rainforest. The epicness sells itself really.
2) La Paz
The capital city of Bolivia, and it sits at an ear-popping, dizzying 4000 metres above sea level. That's an altitude at which you don't want to climb stairs.
*Huff* *Puff* *Huff* *Puff* ...I'll just have a little rest here guys...
La Paz is an incredibly diverse city - many nationalities, many walks of life and crammed full of activity in the way of carnivals, cafés, street food and music.
3) Salar de Uyuni
Salar de Uyuni is a gigantic, shallow salt lake, that dries to leave miles of sparkly, snowy crystals. It's absolutely majestic.
It's referred to as the world's biggest natural 'mirror'.
If you think the daytime mirror looks awesome, you should see it at night when the stars come out to play.
Famous worldwide, and to travellers it's the symbol of Bolivia - the salty jewel in its crown.
4) Valley of the Moon
Situated just outside of La Paz, and very martian-esque. Apparently, because of the altitude, one of the most beautiful sunsets to be in the world. And a great place to see the moon, as you probably guessed by the name!
5) Laguna Verde
Literally, 'The Green Lake'. And boy is it wow.
Tbh, I'd say it's more turquoise. But I don't want to be a dick and ruin the allure, so I'll digress.
6) The Ancient City of Tiwanaku
When I was a teenager, for some reason, I was fascinated with the Inca Empire. I used to read all about the mythology, the legends, and how they thrived in Peru and Bolivia until their demise at the hands of the Conquistadors. I said back then that I'd love to one day visit Peru and Bolivia, but that wish sort of dissolved as I got older - until now.
Remains of the Inca cities still exist today, in ruins. One of the most fascinating, and archaeologically active, is Tiwanaku. I've gotta see it!
It doesn't stop there.
Being right in the heart of South America, Bolivia has excellent links to Peru, Chile, Argentina and Brazil. This opens the door to a number of really cool potential travelling opportunities which I'm currently looking into. Here are some of my ideas so far:
A weekend in the ancient city of Cusco?
And if I have time, a trek to the world-wide wonder, Machu Picchu?
A visit to the ancient, artistic city of Salta in the north?
And the idyllic Argentine countryside?
A stop-by the Chile coast? I've never seen the Pacific Ocean before!
Or a showstopper weekend in Rio?
(I'd probably need a tan, a wax and a speedo, naturally.)
So there we have it!
It sounds like it could be an action-packed Autumn, and I can't wait! I hope to have lots of interesting stories to share, both about my project work and about travelling and culture. Stay tuned for updates!
Now I better get learning Spanish!