As an American child growing up in
I was always reminded by my parents to think of myself as a guest in this country. But that was hard to do. Its lovely people are warm, hospitable, fun-loving, and good-natured. They made me feel that I belong, took me under their wing and made it hard for me to remember that I'm not actually Bolivian!
Who I am: I grew up, and have lived, worked and traveled in different parts of Bolivia since 1976, as well as other countries before and in between. My life has been a swinging door of sorts as we moved continually between the U.S. and various countries. I'm a first-generation TCK (third culture kid), perpetual tourist, travel writer, and now I'm a global nomad mom. I got my first camera when I was four and living in Ecuador, and I became an instant shutterbug. We moved to Bolivia when I was just nine, and my family traveled extensively to large urban areas and some of the most remote regions of the country. With some of the highest mountains and cities in the world, lush rolling valleys, millions of acres of untouched tropical rainforests, arid cactus-covered deserts, extensive plains, a rich tumultuous history, and too much more to mention here, I've been in photographer's heaven ever since! For more about me, view my
and for my professional background, view my
Why I created BoliviaBella.com for you
I began building this site, initially as a hobby, for many reasons: 1) there are already hundreds of sites about Western Bolivia and very little has been done to promote beautiful Eastern Bolivia, 2) there are very few sites written in understandable English, 3) there are virtually NO sites that provide completely first hand, personally researched information, and 4) there are almost no sites in Bolivia where you can post a question and receive a response from a real person who actually lives here. And isn't that what you're really looking for? At BoliviaBella.com you'll find personal recommendations and the shared experiences of other seasoned expats, volunteers, businesspeople, tourists, and Bolivians who have contributed.
What makes BoliviaBella.com so different
I've been dissatisfied for pretty much my entire life with the manner in which Bolivia is projected to the world and with much of the information you typically see in the news about Bolivia. First, I believe that Bolivia doesn't really know how to market itself effectively to a worldwide audience. That may be because Bolivians are not presumptuous so they find it hard to talk highly about themselves and their truly amazing country. Secondly, the rest of the world still holds antiquated stereotypes about Bolivia and doesn't pay much attention to this country unless something unusual or catastrophic happens, or it involves coca, much to our chagrin.
Lastly, most of the really well-known online and printed travel guides don't update their sites and books often enough. They often print guides based on information tourists post in their online forums, and some never actually send researchers or travel writers to visit our country in person. When they do, they visit and promote the same sites in the Andes over and over again, not realizing that they are covering only 28% of this beautiful country. News agencies and reporters tend to do the same. As a result, the world is being misinformed and isn't learning about the other 72% of Bolivia or Bolivia's 36 cultures, most of which live in the tropical states of Beni and Santa Cruz and portions of Bolivia's central valleys.
There's a reason the information on BoliviaBella.com is reliable. We're here. We research. We update. We don't post information about places we or someone else hasn't actually visited. We prioritize the information we publish based on your requests. (OK, that's 5 reasons). Bottom line, people make life-changing decisions (like the decision to move to Bolivia) based on the information they find here. So we understand the responsibility this involves. We go to great lengths to provide important facts in an organized manner so you can get
facts about Bolivia
from someone who has actually been here. We also encourage everyone who travels to Bolivia for any reason to share their travel stories, keep a travel journal, or help answer questions in our very specifically focused Bolivia forums, so that others can benefit from their experiences. By the way, this means you :)
We add new pages, research, travel, and update the information on our site continually. But creating a huge, complicated database about Bolivia is not our main goal! In fact, I began this site as a hobby and never dreamed it would become the largest, most viewed English website about Bolivia in the world! But it has, and I feel honored that others have shared BoliviaBella.com worldwide, so it's a responsibility I insist we take very seriously. However, we do like to mix it up with a little mystery, because we want you to actually
travel to Bolivia
and not just read about it.
I'm on a mission to build the most positive Bolivia website on the net. Thank you for being my virtual guest today. I hope you'll enjoy your online tour of Bolivia as we help you prepare for your visit to the real thing!