We made it. We’ve been in La Paz for exactly 7 days, and here is a bit of what we’ve been able to see… But before we go into the image gallery, just found out that Jill is hosting another Foreign Service Blog Round Up (here we go, people unfamiliar with the ‘acronym world’- it became FS BRU!) – and, a fellow blogger, Ailsa, from “Where’s my Backpack?“, came up with a great travel theme: “sunset”!
Anyway, this week’s theme is coincidently: ‘your current post’, and 5 pros and cons of it… so, for somebody who’s got less than 2 weeks at post, take this list with a grain of salt… I’m sure things will change with time… for better… or for worse… let’s wait and see! For now, enjoying life in ‘Breathless La Paz‘ (you’ll soon find out why!). So, just taking advantage of a blog post written a couple days ago, to share my very own list of “pros and cons” or our newest post:
Nuestra Señora de La Paz is the administrative capital of Bolivia. It is located at an elevation of 3,660 meters above sea level, making it the world’s highest capital city. The city sits in a “bowl” surrounded by the high mountains of the altiplano. As it grows, La Paz climbs the hills, resulting in varying elevations from 3,000 meters to 4,100 meters. Overlooking the city is towering triple-peaked Illimani, which is always snow-covered and can be seen from several spots of the city, including from the neighbor city, El Alto. La Paz is an important cultural center of Bolivia, and we can’t wait to start discovering its culture, learning about its history, the people, the traditions…. and living surrounded by unique beauty!
The city hosts several cathedrals belonging to the colonial times, such as the San Francisco Cathedral and the Metropolitan Cathedral, this last one located on Murillo Square, which is also home of the political and administrative power of the country. Hundreds of different museums can be found across the city, the most notable ones on Jaén Street, which street design has been preserved from the Spanish days and is home of 10 different museums… We haven’t had a chance (yet!) to really go through the main attractions, but, ‘high altitude permitting’ (!!), we’ll begin… very soon!
PROS of our current ‘setting’:
- The beautiful views surrounding our house, the mountains, the unique geography throughout the city of Nuestra Señora de La Paz, our #1 bid… I seem to never get tired of looking at these mountains…
- The School. We were finally able to be at a post where we enrolled our kids (almost 7 & 4,5 yrs old) at an American School [in Mozambique, our son went to a Canadian Montessori Academy, and in Brazil, the oldest ones went to a private local school - for now, let's just leave any discussions behind us... let's say we were lucky to have different options for our children!]. Regarding their current school, we’re quite pleased with what we’ve seen, so far… Baby girl is still too young for school days, so, for the time being, she’s staying at home with….
- … a great NANNY! Close friends (from our time in Mozambique) who were living in La Paz, hooked us up with their nanny/maid pair, right before they had to depart to their next posting – so, we had both ladies waiting for us at the house the day we arrived at our new home…
- Our ‘sponsors’ have been in country for over a decade. They’re pretty ‘plugged in’, have a lot of insight info to share, tips, recommendations… they’ve got kids at similar ages to ours, and… are pretty involved with tourism, extreme sports, mountain biking, hiking… That said, we’ve already built a good ‘network’ during our few days in country…
- The food! I’m simply loving it! Very tasty, so far, very safe to our ‘foreign stomaches’… Our maid is a trained cook, and tries to ‘surprise’ us with a different recipe each day. Groceries seem to be way more affordable than back in Recife (Brazil) or DC/Va, for that matter. That said, going grocery shopping has become an entertaining task for this still-stay-home-mom!
Now, the, ‘not-so-positive’ remarks:
The ALTITUDE. Coming from our 4 weeks of home leave in the US, and before that, a great couple of years posted in Recife, Brazil, pretty much across the street from the ocean, the effects of the high altitude resulted in a shock to my body …
- The HIGH ALTITUDE. I DEFINITELY WAS NOT MYSELF for the first 36 hours in country. Had the husband call the med unit at the embassy, and thought: “has somebody ever asked for curtailing after less than 48 hours at post?“. Became best friends with the oxygen tank. It made it possible, so, i’m very grateful to whoever came up with the idea of portable/personal oxygen tanks/cylinders. My deepest appreciation to you, Mr Inventor, whoever you are….
- The VERY HIGH ALTITUDE. Besides the oxygen, I learned about keeping your body filled with fluids… Any kind, just avoiding the obvious options of alcohol, sodas, coffee… What??! Can’t I drink coffee?! I’m born in Brazil, to a Portuguese mom, and we’ve been drinking coffee since I was in grammar school! [I know it's sounds horrible, but, hey, blame the Portuguese culture for that!] That said, imagine somebody, already dizzy, with a killer headache for literally almost 2 full days, lacking her daily dose of caffeine… Simply, not fair… But I survived… and now, guess what? I’m back into drinking my favorite beverage… And it’s all good…
- The COLD WEATHER. It’s pretty cold over here, no central heating system, so we’re managing with several portable space heaters (thanks GSO!), but I’m sure we’ll adjust. Right now we’re leaving out of our suitcases, waiting for our stuff to come from Brazil (hasn’t left yet!) and from the US (part of the HHE/UAB coming from the east coast). Despite the cold, it’s quite easy to get a real SUN BURN if you’re just outside, trying to warm your bones up… sunscreen is a must! As they say here, “you’re closer to the sun, so, gotta respect that!”.
- And lastly, it’d be great once we have a working cable TV… no shows for the kids, yet. No cartoons… but it’s giving us a chance to talk more (at least, that’s what we’re doing to forget about the lack of a TV). It’s been good to talk with the kids, and inquire about their first impressions of this new life. Talking’s been good. Unless, they get on our nerves, and guess what? Then it’s time for bed, school days are back, and the school bus doesn’t wait for long in the morning!
Here, ‘peeking’ into our new life… and this is just the beginning!
- The Incredible Mountain City Of La Paz, Bolivia (presurfer.blogspot.com)
- The Incredible Mountain City (uniquedaily.com)
- Breathless La Paz (grrrltrek.wordpress.com)