Mumbai, India to La Paz, Bolivia - A Journey for Love
by Vimal Menon
(La Paz, Bolivia)
My journey to Bolivia, La Paz is an unexpected one. For starters, my homeland is India, Mumbai. Nearly, 10,000 flying miles, 30 hours of flight time away. Traveled around to Africa, Europe, England and South East Asia. But for a longtime I did have a liking to visit South America in my life time. I have friends who are from Chile, Mexico and Brazil. One of my best mate used to live in Peru till he decided to move back to England for good. So what made me come here, well definitely nothing to do with some archaeology expedition or to see the Nazca lines which however I would love to see. Not the ancient pyramids of Machu Picchu either.
I met a Latina in my country, and have been courting her for months on line via Skype and Facebook. And she stole my heart and soul away that I left everything in Mumbai India and came home to La Paz Bolivia and married her.
My first meeting with La Paz, the highest capital city in the world was absolutely amazing!! I felt I am living among the clouds which in many ways is true you can touch the clouds for sure. The magnificent Illimani peaks is the second mind blowing sight I see everyday. Living at 3600mts above sea level has its pains!! The first week I had severe headaches, problems in breathing, which was solved drinking a lot of solvents and virtually sitting in bed doing nothing. Once this was solved, I had to get used to the weather as there are days where its freezing and I mean freezing and some days it is very warm. For a person coming from West Coast of India, where the beach is 10 mins away from home with temps.
Ranging from a nice 20degs C to a hot 37degs C, 3 degs C is freezing!!! I even told my self this is summer in winter it will be R.I.P. Vim for sure!
I have to mention this, at El Alto airport, when you pass immigration, you need to stand in front of a frame like a doorway and press a button. If it glows Green you pass if it glows RED you open your bag!! And as fate would have decided for me it went RED!!! They asked me to open my bags, since I dont speak Spanish, they looked and said close the bag and I am out!! Was thinking what if it was green and I walked out without declaring, it sure was an experience.
Now if I compare La Paz with Mumbai, then what I instantly miss is the CROWD!!! The first few days owing to the Carnival the city was dead!! Secondly, in Mumbai, you can speak English and people will help, here it has to be Spanish. So Ladies and Gentlemen I was doomed!! Most of my information about Bolivia came from the website www.boliviabella.com and helpful Charis Barks. So in person thank you Charis. Also, my lady love made sure I have the information that I need.
Food in Bolivia is amazing. I am a Veggie who eats Seafood and Eggs ha ha so not sure what I am. But the cuisine is every bit worth trying out for. Also one thing you need to remember is the portions are very very generous!! One of the drinks I tried was API!! Amazing , red, and unique taste. It is accompanied by Buñuelos bread stuffed with Cheese and you eat it with sugar.
Also commonly found everywhere is empanadas and salteñas amazing pie. Beer is found for the beer drinkers, tried 3 of them Pacena, Huari these are decent beers. There is Judas which I did not try but is a strong beer and have seen people knocked out. Wine is popular for the wine drinkers here.
Choripan is a kind of barbecue where you have sausage in bread with fillings. Tasted it giving my veggisim out for a few minutes and will recommend. Which also brings up the point that when you see Hay Pan written in front of stores, it means Bread Available, I mistook it for like Hey how are you?
Another amazing thing I like about this country is you can exchange money in the Streets!! Meet a Chola Indian woman and she will take 100 USD and give you back Bolivianos!!!
I am still in the middle of my adventures in this country 31 days and I have seen so many similarities between Mumbai and La Paz, and yet they are two different worlds. One thing I see people staring at me wondering where I am from. Most common first question are you American? Second, are you from South Africa? Nope I am from India and then you here them go WOW!! India!!! so not many here in this part of the world. As a city La Paz is safe not had any encounters so far. Explore the city by walking but you need to remember its a roller coaster lot of uphills and downhills will drain you out. Lot of Radio cabs, recommend Alfa, Magnifico and Cristo Rey. You can also take a mini bus plenty around.
But overall this is Paradise!! My advice make sure you know basic Spanish or get Bolivia Bella to help you they sure will!!
In my case my love is a Bolivian and speaks English so am better off for now not knowing Spanish.
Will keep you posted about my journey of a girl who stole my heart and soul and now a country which is doing the same!!
Bolivia is truly Bella!!!
Chow for now!