Monday, August 10, 2015

My journey

Arriving into La Paz was like stepping into an enchantment tale. Where the surrounding mountains stood tall with glistening snow tops, and the skyscraper buildings stood tall and powerful like a forest at the centre of it all.But then my body’s realisation that suddenly it is at 4000m above sea level starts to kick in. Altitude sickness is not fun. Some people seem to be really lucky and adjust really fast, and can eat whatever they want and not get ill. Some people, (like me) cannot. But once you get past the illnesses that may or may not come with coming to La Paz, the experience is so amazing that it genuinely all seems worth it. Besides which, you don’t really get time to be ill. Not with all the hustle and bustle that this city, ironically called La Paz (the peace), brings with it at all hours of the day.  

Whether during the day it’s the mass of traffic and the horns and shouting that inevitably accompany it, or the calls of the market sellers stood on every inch of every pavement. Or whether at night it’s the sound of the local bars and their music, or the sounds of the many, many dogs that roam the streets barking away. My project group is called Urban Agriculture, which essentially works with individuals on producing and growing their crops. This means that our work can include anything from creating recipes incorporating the vegetables that they produce to put onto the website, all the way to travelling to the neighbouring city of El Alto for construction work of greenhouses for the producers. 

The only way I can think to describe El Alto is to strike the resemblance it holds with India. The overly packed streets, the never ended traffic jams and the mini bus taxi services that pick up anyone and everyone and at some point you’ll end up at your destination. But then out side of the centre is just miles and miles of dusty roads, stray dogs wandering along them looking for something to eat and deserted factories with smashed windows that give an eerie feel to the place. Unlike in La Paz there aren’t the skyscraper buildings that cast a shadow over the city and keep the strong sun off of you. 

Instead in El Alto it’s a very dry heat that could easily give you sunstroke if you don’t have water and a hat with you; and more than a few of us have gotten sunburn even while wearing sunscreen. But there is something quite satisfying about working on construction, because as hard and as tiring as it is at the end of the day you get to see something that together as a team you have constructed. One of the best days of construction so far has been when two of the other project groups cames with us to experience it for the day and then we were split up into 3 groups. Working with people that are from other areas of development was brilliant because they brought something extra, from their own experiences, to the day. Also, when there are so many of you together, it becomes so much more fun and enjoyable; and suddenly the hard work doesn’t seem quite so hard.

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