From the moment I stepped off the plane, I was hit by a cold, dry air. My heart immediately started beating faster, even after I started walking more slowly. I guess that’s what happens when you are in city 3,500 meters higher than sea level!
My friend picked up me up from the airport, just as the sun began to rise. On our way back to the house, we enjoyed a beautiful view of Bolivia’s pride, Illimani. This glacier covered mountain is the symbol of La Paz and its people; beautiful, strong, and present. The trip back to the house was hectic, as we passed by cobblestone streets, stray dogs who didn’t move out of our way, and drivers who drive as if they were in a street race. I didn’t complain one bit, because this is the essence of the daily life of a paceño.
I was warmly greeted at home by my friend’s mom, who had made me a delicious, Bolivian meal. She made me a peanut soup and served us steak, potatoes, and carrots. They love talking about their potato varieties, because they have over 300 types!! I could decipher that excitement, despite my broken Spanish. My first day was a struggle, because I have not spoken Spanish in so long! After a certain point, I think I stopped trying to communicate in Spanish and instead, started to rely on hand gestures and facial expressions. It worked.
I am nervous for my first day of work at Elemental! Besides my Spanish being a barrier, I am excited to see what the office looks like and how my project will look like over the next few weeks!