I Didn’t Drink Tea In London, And Other True Stories

On July 2, I said “ciao” to Cusco and “cheerio!” to London for the first month of Remote Year: Eurotrip. It was sad to leave South America — another post for another time — but London was calling.

Before I answered, I put the UK on hold for a visit to the US. It was wonderful to spend time with family, celebrate the 4th of July with best friends, hug my dog, and drink about 10 gallons of Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee.

My stateside vacation was short but sweet and I’m grateful for the time to recharge. Before long, I was navigating the tube system on 2 hours of sleep, trying to find my new home before starting the workday at 2pm London time. Working NYC hours in Europe was weird but also convenient at times like this.

Our July home was The Collective, a co-living/co-working space best described as a giant dorm for adults. Think shared apartments and a bunch of communal areas where we could camp out with laptops for the day. Also, showers that made me feel like a giant.

The Collective had speedy wifi and comfy workspaces (laundry room was my fave), but most days I hopped on the tube to work from cafes in central London. I had never visited the city and wanted to see as much as possible during my 3 weeks there.

July was a crazy busy month but it was also crazy fun. Here’s the shortened version:

Almost-two-peaks challenge

Five hours after arriving in London, I left for a weekend hiking trip. Our group’s intention was to do the 3 Peaks Challenge, which involves scaling the 3 tallest peaks in England, Scotland and Wales in 24 hours.

After realizing our last-minute planning would make this almost impossible, the agenda was condensed and rebranded as the Almost 3 Peaks Challenge. Weather was not in our favor and we hiked through hurricane-force winds and pouring rain in seasonally appropriate gear like shorts and corduroys. We may have been underprepared.

“It’s Wales in July — what did you expect?!” and “Didn’t anyone warn you?” locals shouted at us above the storm’s roar.

Clearly not.

This sounds miserable but our hiking adventure was so much fun. We conquered Mt. Snowdon, spent an impromptu night in a beachside town, and hiked almost all of Scafell Pike but had to abandon early because of our long drive back. I also love outdoor adventures so this was a great way to kick off the month. Almost 2 Peak Challenge = success.

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The weather was only bad when we were hiking; otherwise it was like this

Leuve in Leuven

A friend of mine from Belgium was a total champ in organizing a trip for ~15 of us to visit his hometown of Leuven. It’s such a beautiful little city and SO much fun. Weekend activities: outdoor concert/dance party (a Leuven summer thing), trip to the Stella Artois brewery, super fun BBQ, walking tours of Leuven and Brussels, and a lot of beer/waffles/fries.

Recovering from Leuven weekend took about a week but was totally worth it. Cheers!

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Livin la vida Leuven

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Just your average Friday

Little sis comes to town!

Towards the end of July, my sister Claire came from the US and we spent a few days in uber-tourist mode, cramming in as much sightseeing as possible.

In one week and about a million miles, we saw Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Kensington Palace, Buckingham Palace, Tate Modern, British Museum, Hyde Park, Royal Albert Hall, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Globe Theatre, Trafalgar Square, Millennium Bridge, London Eye, Oxford University, and some other sights I’m probably forgetting.

My favorite parts of the week were walking through Hyde Park and spending a day at Oxford, which is probably the most beautiful school I’ll ever see in my life. We tried to see all the places where Harry Potter scenes were filmed and my inner wizard wept with joy. Other highlights were Tower of London and the street food at Borough Market – on. point.

The only London activity I didn’t check off was teatime. Looking back, I didn’t drink tea at all in England, which makes me feel like I did something wrong. I’m sure I’ll return eventually and will drink double the amount of tea when I do.

If it helps, we did sample every gelato shop in central London (Scoops was the best in case you’re wondering).

I had a blast seeing Claire and exploring London together. It’s weird and sad to know I won’t see her for a long time after having two visits in one month, but her trip was definitely one for the books.

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London was fundon, but…

It sounds weird, but July felt like a break from Remote Year — probably because I was gone half the month and took 70% of my vacation days in 3 weeks. Oops.

England was lovely and this month was fun, but I was pumped to move by the time July 30 rolled around. London felt very familiar to the city I left behind, which was comforting in some ways but also made me restless. I missed the exciting uneasiness of experiencing a brand-new place for the first time, a feeling that followed me throughout South America.

Now we’re in Prague and the feeling is back. The architecture is stunning, beer is cheap, and I spend way too much time translating labels at the grocery store. I feel like an outsider here now but am so excited to get to know this beautiful city.

Cusco: Adventures, Fun Facts, Llamas

On the last week of our South American journey (wah), I figured it was time to write about life in Cusco, Peru. There is a direct correlation between the amount of time I’m on Remote Year and the amount of time I want to spend typing.

We arrived at our new Cusco homes after a 14-hour bus ride, which was long but not bad thanks to naps, snacks, and mountain views. In typical South American fashion, I ate an empanada that didn’t agree with me and got 4 hours of sleep before the first June adventure: Rainbow Mountain!

Vinicunca Mountain is called Rainbow Mountain because sediments in the rock give it colorful stripes. Not just part of the mountain — THE WHOLE THING. It’s stunning and 100% worth the 3am wake-up call and 12-mile trek that took us from 4,000m to 5,200m and back.

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Rainbow Mountain was a long day and altitude was a challenge, but it was one of my favorite hikes to date. I’m so glad it was the first thing I did in Cusco and it was my second favorite adventure of this month (Inca Trail was a whole other beast).

Anyway, Cusco. We’re in the clouds again this month as the former capital of the Inca empire is about 11,155 ft. above sea level. I’m living in a hotel called Casa de Campo, which has a strong jungle treehouse vibe and sweet views of the city.

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I love the jungle thing but don’t spend much time in Campo because Cusco is awesome and there’s so much to explore. The city’s ancient architecture and tiny cobblestone streets make it look like a movie set. It’s touristy, yes, but in a super cute way.

First up: Cusco adventures!

  • Hiking Saqsaywaman: Ancient Incan citadel about a 10-minute walk from my hotel, because these are normal things in Cusco. I’ve run and hiked through it a bunch of times and it never gets less cool (or difficult).
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Not pictured: 1 million stairs on the way up

  • Cristo Blanco: On one of our first nights in Cusco, I noticed a white Jesus floating above the city. Turns out it wasn’t a hallucination but a massive statue at the top of a giant hill, which also has sweet views of the city. And llamas.
  • Welcome party: Rented another giant house because RY3 is in its element at house parties. Just give us a dance floor and DJ please.
  • Bus tour: Drove around Cusco and didn’t understand much of what the driver said, but did love seeing some great views and spending a few hours in the sun.
  • Fundraising and fashion: RY3 held a “Pisco and Poker” night during which we played poker, drank Pisco (Peruvian liquor), and raised money for charity. My friend and I ran a table for our Pisco cocktail competition, so naturally we dressed in traditional Peruvian attire and served Pisco shots.
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#trendsetters

 

  • The Junction: Every month, RY has a networking event and this month’s theme was ‘where I’m from’. We drank pisco (sensing a theme here?) and learned about one another’s heritage during a storySLAM (storytelling session), where I Irish danced and talked about throwing up after my first dance class.
  • Sacred Valley: Explored Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Moray, Urubamba, and other parts of Peru’s Sacred Valley. This was the laziest and greatest day trip ever because aside from climbing some ruins, we mostly hung out in a van and drove around to cool places.
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Pisac

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Sunset views

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Moray

  • Inca Trail to Machu Picchu! Amazing. Too many other words for a bullet point. Separate post on the way.

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To sum up the things I’ve learned about living in Cusco, here are a few fun facts:

  • Cobblestones are deadly: The same stones that give Cusco streets their quaint storybook look are slippery at all times no matter what shoes you wear. I’ve considered adding duct tape to mine.
  • June is Cusco Fiesta Month: I do not know what it’s like to walk through the Plaza de Armas without seeing at least ten people in costume and usually a parade, because this is the month Cusco celebrates its heritage. Like fireworks-at-8am and people-dancing-in-the-streets levels of celebration.
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Casual weekday

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No party like a Cusco commute

  • Dogs and llamas are everywhere: There are maybe ten stray dogs for every llama you see walking around this city. And there are a lot of llamas.
  • When I said touristy, I meant it: Those llamas are being walked around by Peruvian women hoping people will want to take a picture with them (FYI totally works). Cusco is a huge hub for tourists exploring ancient sites, meaning there are hundreds of people trying to sell you things all the time. If you want a massage or a hat, just walk down the street and someone will offer you one.
  • The food is on point: Maybe it’s because we were coming from La Paz, maybe it’s because Cusco is a huge tourist hub, but this city is packed with delicious restaurants — Peruvian, yes, but also Italian, tapas, ceviche, you name it. No more PB and crackers for me! At least, not for dinner. Every night. Like in Bolivia.

 

 

 

Sand, Salt, No Water: 3 Days In Salar De Uyuni

The wilderness of Bolivia’s Uyuni is pitch black after sunset. We’ve been driving for hours down a dirt road so bumpy I’ve abandoned Marching Powder because my hand is shaking too hard to read. I take a deep breath of dusty air through the Jeep’s window and look up at the starry sky.

A few moments later, we arrive at a bare-bones hostel where the floor is made of real salt — like the kind you sprinkle on the driveway when it gets icy. Welcome to Salar de Uyuni.

Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat, spanning 4,086 square miles amid the Andes in southwest Bolivia. It formed when prehistoric lakes dried up and left miles of salt, islands dotted with thousand-year-old cacti, and random rock formations behind.

Like the rest of Bolivia, the salt flat is weird and beautiful and amazing. This is how we spent Memorial Day Weekend in the closest thing I’ve seen to a beach in Bolivia: plenty of sand and plenty of salt, but no water.

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Day One: 12 of us pile into Jeeps that will become our home for three days. We stop at a “train cemetery” where we climb carcasses of train cars abandoned when the mining industry collapsed in the 1940s. “Ten minutes,” our guide said, and we left.

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We drive until the dirt road turns white and a hexagonal pattern stretches out in all directions until it meets blue sky. Salar de Uyuni is bright and flat and stuns my senses in a way that’s hard to explain. How do you describe the beauty of a massive sheet of salt?

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A photo shoot ensues. Some of us wear clothes. All of us wear party hats. The birthday girl accidentally sets her hair on fire. We learn salt is painful to walk on in bare feet. Serious OW.

2038502895 pictures later, we arrive at Isla Incahuasi, an outcrop of land in the middle of the flats. It’s covered in cacti, and coral and algae that are remnants of its early beginnings underneath a prehistoric lake thousands of years ago. We hike, we pose, we take llama selfies.

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Driving and driving on the salt, past the salt until sunset and all of a sudden, the white turns pink and purple until the sun dips below the horizon. At the hostel, we weigh the pros and cons of removing layers for paid hot showers and decide to rank up the stank for a few days. Time for vino.

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Day Two: Road trip continues. Our Jeep starts smoking and we’re pretty sure it’s going to explode. Apparently this happens often, so we sit outside it and eat Pringles until all is bueno.

When it is, we rock out to Hamilton until we see the semi-active Ollague volcano straddling the Bolivia/Chile border. It’s smoking as much as our car was. Mountains and desert pass until we reach a blue lagoon with REAL WILD FLAMINGOES in it. We learn the park has 3 of the world’s 6 flamingo species and eating algae turns their feathers pink. Fun facts.

We drive past the Atacama Desert and climb giant rocks and reach the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve. There is Laguna Colorada, the “red lagoon” that gets its coloring from arsenic and copper, among other minerals.

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We stay in a hostel…structure? with concrete walls and a plastic roof. Good thing I brought all the clothes I packed for the year because temps are freeeezing outside. At 9pm we bundle up in cocoons of sleeping bags and sweaters and blankets that may or may not be made of steel.

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Slumber party!

Day Three: 4:30 wake-up call for our drive back to the town of Uyuni. We stop to watch the sun rise at a place they tell us is part of the park where natural geysers are plentiful. I am unconvinced; I believe we have driven to Mars. We do some crater hopping.

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Back on Earth, we drive past more mountains until we reach Laguna Verde. The water is such a vibrant shade of green it looks fake, as does the surrounding scenery. Being in such a remote and beautiful place reminds me of Patagonia and I have my millionth South America-is-so-fucking-pretty-and-cool moment of this month.

Our last stop is a natural hot spring with a breathtaking mountain view. We soak and relax in the chilly air, enjoying the warmth and taking in the sights while our guides try to tell us it’s time to leave. We are in denial. After days of chill, the hot water is paradise.

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Eventually we swap our bathing suits for sweatshirts and sleep for most of the drive back to Uyuni, where we end this incredible, adventurous weekend with the best pizza I’ve had in South America.

Minuteman Pizza is owned by an American who met his wife when she walked into his Boston pizza place, and they moved back to her native Bolivia to live in Uyuni. Can you say movie script? If you find yourself in this random corner of the world, go there.

And if you’re not planning a trip to Salar de Uyuni, I urge you to keep it in mind. This weekend I was lucky to see some of the most bizarre and incredible scenery this planet has to offer.

True Life: I Survived Bolivian Street Food (La Paz Week 3)

Living through a Bolivian street food tour with my digestive system intact has made me feel like I can do anything. Ironman? Bungee jump? Check my bank account after 3 months of Remote Year? Bring it on. I am invincible.

I spent last Thursday on Suma Phayata, a project created to show the world Bolivian street food is both safe and delicious. The food tour includes stops at five markets, all owned by kick-ass women who have been trained to cook for tourists’ delicate stomachs.

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It started with Doña Sofia’s tucumanas, which are fried empanadas accompanied by avocado sauce I would happily bathe in. At Las Cholas we ate chola (pork) sandwiches made by Doña Cristina, who has been gracing La Paz with her sandwiches for twice as long as I’ve been alive. Safe to say she’s mastered the art.

We moved on to Mercado Lanza, a massive food market that looks like it was built inside a parking garage, for Doña Elvira’s sausage sandwiches made of beef and llama meat (FAVE). Our fourth stop was Las Velas, where Doña Ines made “anticucho”, or heart covered in peanut sauce.

Yes, I tried it all and yes, I’m still full. Moving on to things I did last week other than eat street meat:

Chacaltaya: Up early to climb a mountain in the Cordillera Real, a range within the Bolivian Andes. Chacaltaya has an elevation of 17,785 ft., which made the short hike feel like ten miles and La Paz’s oxygen feel like sea level. Both the hike and the views literally stole my breath.

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Toured Valle de la Luna: Moon Valley is an area near La Paz where erosion has worn away most of a mountain made of clay and sandstone. The result is a visually stunning lunar landscape of canyons and spires. Neil Armstrong compared it to the moon, and he seems like a credible source.

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Walking tour: This was the only weekend I was in La Paz, so I decided to make the most of it and see the city. We joined up with C&P Tours for a few hours of strolling through the city and learning about its culture. It was fascinating to hear about cholitas, Bolivian flirting (hint: flash the calf), San Pedro prison, protests, and the governmental system.

Witches market: Spent a few hours shopping in el mercado de las brujas, where they sell normal things like llama fetuses, soapstone figures, and aphrodisiac powders. I did not buy a fetus but did buy a llama printed sweater and am VERY excited about it.

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Dinner at Luciernagas: Enjoyed traditional Bolivian food with a great crew. Cute restaurant with lots of meat and different forms of potatoes, which count as my veggie intake for the month. Preceded by too many cucumber G&Ts and RY jam sesh at cool bar Ludo.

Met the gym dog: Muy importante. Club Spazio, the gym I joined in La Paz, adopted a dog off the street and he hangs out in the gym all day. I thought a live DJ and included classes were enough to make this the best gym ever, but Spazio has one-upped itself.

Boliving La Vida Boliviana

Three weeks in, Bolivia is still weird. Despite living in South America for nearly three months, this is the first city where I’ve felt immersed in a country so different from my own.

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Sometimes it’s great. I love experiencing a different culture on this level; it’s one of the many reasons why I signed up for Remote Year in the first place. La Paz is such a cool city with an interesting history, and — the best part — there are so many places to explore outside it. I can already think of 2 side trips (Rurrenabaque and Isla del Sol) I’d take if we were here longer than 5 weeks.

Sometimes it’s not. Real talk, La Paz is one of the poorest cities in South America and we’re in a relatively small neighborhood where it’s risky to go outside alone after 10pm. It’s normal to hear protests in the street and suck down diesel fumes while dodging a million humans on the commute to work. It’s normal to eat a salad and regret it for two days, or get winded walking up a hill.

I know challenges are part of the adventure and honestly, I’ve made some of my favorite RY memories this month. But I also think it’s important to note there’s more to this experience than cool Instagram photos.

This weekend I’m flying back down to sea level for the first Remote Nation meetup in Lima, Peru, where most people from the first, second and third rounds of Remote Year will get together for two days. Should be a very boring/tame weekend (jokes), so I’ll write a couple sentences on it when I get back.

Death Road, Ziplines, Waterfalls: Adventure Weekend

If you like outdoor adventures, go buy a plane ticket to Bolivia. My inner adrenaline junkie is at home here.

When Remote Year started, there were two things on my Bolivian bucket list: biking “death road” and visiting the salt flats. This weekend I crossed off the safer-sounding of the two when I hopped on a mountain bike for the first time on North Yungas Road.

FYI: Death road connects La Paz to Coroico in Bolivia’s Yungas region. The single-lane dirt road we biked is about 40 miles long and took us from an altitude of 15,260 ft. to 3,900 ft. Most of the road has no guardrails and runs along the edge of cliffs measuring up to 2,000 ft., which have killed hundreds of people each year and earned it the title of “world’s most dangerous road” in 1995.

Naturally, this downhill death trap is a popular place for mountain biking.

I signed up to bike death road as part of an “adventure weekend,” which also included zip-lining and whitewater rafting in the jungle. Because why do one death-defying sport when you can do three?!

Now that I’ve made it to Monday, here’s a recap of maybe my best day/weekend in South America.

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Death Road

We did the trip with Madness Mountain Biking and it was freaking incredible. I quickly got used to the whole mountain-bike thing as we flew down a paved highway to the rockier, rougher part of the road.

I’d say that’s when “death road” started. The views of the surrounding mountains were unbelievable and our group moved pretty fast along the narrow path. For me, the biggest challenge was striking a balance between taking in the scenery and not biking off a cliff.

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I would guesstimate maybe 90% of the route was downhill and I had my hands on the brakes for most of it. It was scary, sure, but also exhilarating in the best way. There isn’t much physical work involved, so you just speed along and take it all in: the speed, the mountains, the biking-on-the-edge-of-a-cliff rush.

While being careful, obviously. Like keep your eyes on the road and don’t take selfies in motion.

Biking the death road is in competition with Laguna de los Tres for my favorite South American trip. It might win.

Adventure Weekend Continues!

After lunch, relaxing, and partying in our pajamas at a Coroico bar, we stayed the night in Cerro Verde Hotel, which had a killer view of the valley:

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I’ll take this view every day of my life, thanks

We were up early to go rafting but had a minor delay when our van got stuck in the mud. Getting the van unstuck became a common weekend activity and hilariously happened 3-4 times in one day. Our drive to rafting was the scariest part of the weekend/my life because we were speeding along the edge of a cliff for most of it.

On the river, we navigated level 3 rapids through the jungle. Rafting in a rainforest was surreal and awesome because before this, my rainforest contact was limited to zoo exhibits. We passed weird giant plants, neon butterflies, and riverfront villages where the locals seemed to find us very amusing.

In between rafting and zip-lining, we were told there would be a “surprise” adventure. Our only hints? 1. Be careful and 2. you’ll get soaked. Obviously I became super excited.

The surprise turned out to be a hike along part of the Inca Trail, which took us through the jungle to a couple of massive beautiful waterfalls. We had to wade/climb/scramble our way up a river to get from one to the other, and it was so cool. It reminded me of The Narrows at Zion National Park… but, you know, in the rainforest.

Ziplining came last. As we waited to get set up, our guide told us how he built the zipline himself with a couple of his buddies. Comforting, right? It was totally fine — the zipline ride was long and gave us incredible views of the valley from 200m above ground. I would have taken pictures, but there’s a 100% chance my phone would have taken a 200m ride to the rainforest floor.

A few hours later, I arrived back in La Paz feeling the kind of exhilarated, content tired you feel after an amazing trip. This one was definitely one for the books (well, blog).

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Bolivia Week One: Let’s Get Weird

We were at the airport getting ready to leave Buenos Aires when a friend of mine had an epiphany.

“Fuck! We’re moving to Bolivia!” she exclaimed. “Remote Year just got real.”

Spot on. Argentina was a good country to transition into this year because its cities, especially Buenos Aires, were so similar to the one I left. Moving from BA to La Paz would be a bigger change, as we learned the week before travel day.

How big? Well to start, Nuestra Señora de La Paz, or “Our Lady of Peace”, is the world’s highest capital city at ~12,000 ft. above sea level. Altitude has been an issue for many of us. I haven’t been sleeping well and waking up feeling hungover despite going to bed sober at 10pm. On day one, I got winded walking up the stairs to our hotel lobby.

Drinking tap water is a major No in Bolivia, meaning uncooked produce is risky. This is the first time in my life I’ve legitimately feared lettuce. A lot of us have been sick but so far I’ve managed to avoid stomach problems. Knock on wood for now, but I’ve accepted I’ll probably get food poisoning at some point.

Another fun (and related) fact: the city’s weak infrastructure means we also can’t flush toilet paper or the system will break.

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Welcome to La Paz!

Visually, La Paz is completely different from any city I’ve ever seen. Our temporary neighborhood of Sopacachi sits at the bottom of a valley and it’s incredible to see the city’s red buildings rising up around me.

Streets and sidewalks are chaotic with mobs of people and small kiosks selling everything from nail polish to Doritos. It’s common to see cholitas, Bolivia’s indigenous women, walking around in their traditional dress and people in zebra costumes directing traffic (yes, really). This is a good thing because the streets are madness and there’s a 50/50 chance of cars actually stopping at red lights.

After one week here, I think I can say RY got real in La Paz. Here are the highlights from our first wonderfully weird week:

Sunset views: Our awesome LP expert, Vivi, took us on a walk to a viewpoint where we watched the sun setting over La Paz after our first full workday in Cafe Urbano. It was beautiful, especially with the snow-capped Mt. Illimani in the background.

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Teleférico (cable cars): This mass transit system, which is also the world’s largest urban gondola system, is the coolest way to get from point A to point B in La Paz. We took a test run and saw some amazing aerial views of the city before going to the Zona Sur neighborhood for sushi — YUM.

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Casual commute

Cholitas wrestling: Event inspired by America’s WWF and Mexico’s lucha libre. Cholitas enter the ring to battle it out in their traditional outfits, and it’s just as bizarre and hilarious as it sounds. This day also marked the second time we took photos from a La Paz resident’s unfinished rooftop.

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Welcome fiesta: At a hidden bar called La Costilla, which takes up three floors and is stuffed with antiques and weird flea market finds. The best way to explain the decor: imagine the coolest old person you know never cleaned out their attic. There were also drag queens and a fortune teller spelling out our fates in coca leaves.

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Spanish spin class: I signed up for a local gym in La Paz because the congestion/pollution/altitude make it tough to run around here. In my first week I discovered the joy of Spanish workout classes and cannot wait to pack my days with MAS RAPIDO spinning and bouncing on trampolines.

Adventure weekend: Death road. Zip-lining. Waterfall hikes. Whitewater rafting. Mud. Writing a separate post because I can’t contain the awesomeness in one paragraph. Stay tuned!

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Asados and Airplanes: Until We Meet Again, Argentina

Every city has different sounds.

In Cordoba, I wrote a blog post while listening to people sing in celebration of Holy Week outside Iglesia de los Capuchinos.

In Buenos Aires, I wrote to the sounds of city traffic on Avenida Raul Scalabrini Ortiz: car horns blaring, radios blasting reggaeton as motorcycles roared past them.

Now my writing soundtrack comes from a group of drummers who have been going hard on the bongos (or some Bolivian drum I can’t name) for the past few hours alongside our busy street in La Paz. We’ve only crossed one country border, but it feels another world away.

As I acclimatize to life in the world’s highest capital city, I’m thinking back on our last couple of weeks in Argentina. Here are some of the highlights:

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Polo Day! One of the best days. Took a bus to an estancia outside Buenos Aires and watched club polo players, enjoyed an asado (BBQ) lunch, and then got on the horses to play. It’s worth noting we were about 3 hours of wine deep by the time we saddled up. I galloped on a horse and it was maybe the best moment of my adult life.

Speakeasy bar crawl: Went on a speakeasy tour of Buenos Aires and hit three favorite spots: Victoria Brown’s, Nicky’s (best IMO), and Frank’s. Frank’s is cool but there is a dress code, so some ladies and gents had to swap pants to get us all in.

Closed-door dinner: Closed-door restaurants are homes or apartments where chefs cook for small groups of people. My last in BA was at a cozy apartment with beautiful nighttime views of the city and flan I actually enjoyed.

Public speaking workshop: When I practiced storytelling by telling a room full of people about the time I got stuck on prison lockdown as an inmate tutor in college. I think I sweat less this time.

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La Boca: Spent a rainy Saturday afternoon exploring the colorful buildings and markets of the bright La Boca neighborhood. Then we walked through the not-so-bright part of La Boca to visit a local restaurant owned and operated by four brothers, which was completely decked out in futbol paraphernalia and so cool.

Farewell party: For our last fiesta in BA, Remote Year rented out a mansion. There was a rooftop asado, dance party in an empty pool (and inside too, but the pool was noteworthy), great tunes from our 3 remote DJs, and a lot of guest bartending. Also, caricatures.

Hasta Luego, Argentina!

Leaving Argentina was bittersweet because it was the only exception to Remote Year 3’s one-country-per-month pattern. I feel beyond lucky to have spent March and April exploring Cordoba, Buenos Aires, Mendoza wine country, and the natural wonders of Patagonia.

I’m surprised by how much I grew to love Argentina because I initially felt “meh” about Cordoba, a small city with a slow pace of life. It took a couple of weeks to adjust to the language barrier, Argentine lifestyle, and the overwhelming and exciting experience of Remote Year.

But then I learned about the Argentine culture and its people. I took Spanish and tango classes, toured Cordoba’s museums, walked its narrow streets, and met the friendly locals. I read about the history of its military dictatorship and witnessed the powerful 40th anniversary events in person. Slowly but surely, Argentina drew me in.

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Last morning run in BA

Moving to Buenos Aires sealed the deal. The big city brought a welcome change of pace and I immediately felt at home. BA had miles of tree-lined streets to explore, cafes to call my office, a massive park to run in, beautiful European architecture, a vibrant and exciting nightlife, and too many sights to see.

So many, in fact, I feel our four-week stay was barely enough to scratch the surface of this cool city. There is no doubt in my mind I’ll make my way back to BA someday.

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Welcome to La Paz, hope you like the altitude!

Bolivian Life

Until that happens, the country-hopping continues. La Paz is way different than any place I’ve visited, but so far it has completely taken me by surprise. Sure, we can’t drink the water (or flush toilet paper or breathe), but I’m so intrigued by this mountain city.

This weekend I’ll be making my way to the jungle for some Bolivian adventures: biking the death road, ziplining, whitewater rafting, and watching the stars as Earth passes through the tail of Hailey’s Comet. More pics and stories to come!