Potosi, Through Children’s Eyes (Where Were You When You Were Twelve?)

We eat the mountain…and the mountain eats us.

— David, a mine guide and former miner in Potosi, echoes a decades-old sentiment about the city's lifeblood, its world-famous silver mines.

It was late morning and the sun was bright, the sky crystal at 13,400 feet in Potosi, Bolivia. We were being tended to by a group of schoolgirls dressed as nurses at a hygiene fair; they sought to teach us the methods and benefits of properly washing our hands.

The mood: uplifting and hopeful.

Contrast this with just the day before.

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Bolivia Travel: Tarija, the City of Smiles and Hospitality

Oh, Tarija. The women there are beautiful. It’s their smiles. They are the dream of every Bolivian man.

— David, our Bolivian guide for the Salar de Uyuni tour, delivers an animated testimonial for one of Bolivia’s lesser-known cities.

Cafés with outdoor seating line palm tree-dotted squares; cars broadcast opera from open windows as they cruise the plaza; wine lists measure longer than food menus; tablitas (ham, cheese and olive tapas plates) are standard fare; and smiles are in ample supply.

A Mediterranean-style culture smack in the middle of South America? Tarija is not your typical Bolivian town.

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Cocaine: A Story That Begins in the Bolivian Jungle

I need to fill up the tank completely. Finding gasoline in Chapare can be unreliable. It’s one of the ingredients in cocaine production – and that gets first priority.

— Alvarro, our client and guide in Cochabamba, Bolivia explains why it’s necessary to gas up in the city before heading into the jungle.

Paraguay customs. We had just crossed the 200 mile desert frontier with Bolivia. Border agents dressed in knit shirts, their shoulders adorned in crossed Paraguayan and U.S. flags, scanned our bus’s contents –- all of it piled before us. As we waited for a drug-sniffing Labrador retriever to finish pacing and pawing suspect bags, we figured it was time to bring the cocaine story to its finish.

And just as we thought this, the guard approached: “Miss, place your bags up here. We’d like to take a look.”

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Thanksgiving in Bolivia, MacGyver* in the Kitchen

Thanksgiving may be over, but I’m still thankful.

We admit it – we are the worst bloggers. Many wrote their Thanksgiving posts a week or two before turkey day while others prepared something to publish on the day itself.

Then there’s us.

We intended – we really did – to publish a reflection yesterday, but life took over and filled our day with a raft of experiences and emotions.

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