January 26, 2011

Uyuni and The Largest Salt Flats in the World

Here are some cool illusion pictures that a lot of people take in the salt flats!!! sorry for a short post, more to come later.... enjoy!!!!!!

Isla De La Luna and Cocacabana

Legends in Inca mythology refer to the island as the location where Viracocha commanded the rising of the moon. Archeological ruins of an Incan nunnery were found on the eastern shore. This nunnery was  used by the Incan's to house the virgins that they would then sacrifice later.  They had levels of classifications for the virgins, essentially spectacular, medium and regular.  These sacrifices supposedly brought great honor to their families, when they were savagely beaten because they believed their screams would reach the heavens, the louder they were.  A very humbling and quiet, little island gives you a lot to contemplate regarding the many thousands of lost lives and dead Indians from this area.

The picture below is one that I really liked from the Isal del Sol, I think it portrays the flavor of the community really well.

January 19, 2011


(not the one that the song is about)
that Copacabana is in Brazil

Copacabana is the main Bolivia town on the shore of Lake Titicaca, from where boats leave for Isla Del Sol, the sacred Inca island. Lake Titicaca is bordered by both Bolivia and Peru.  The Bolivians like to say: "The Titti is the Bolivians and the Caca (poop) is the Peruvian side. " But, the actual meaning is actually Puma Rock. The Puma is a mountain lion/cougar and is actually a very special symbol to the ancient Incan's.
We had to take a ferry to cross the lake at one point so Ruth, Craig, me and Maria, in this little boat that putted through the water, when we first got in, it was funny because the entire engine  was laying in the middle of the boat floor. I guess they just had a dead one and one that ran the boat too.
This is a picture of our hotel in Cocacabana.  I have never been to the Mediterranean, but if I had, I think that it would look a lot like Lake Titicacca.  I love the stain glass windows and large doors of this hotel. 

The two pictures above are two of my favorite plants that were around my hotel.  They symbolize Bolivia to me very well.  I don't know their names at all, but they are breathtaking (I think).
Me trying to slack-line
This beautiful sculpture is actually made of rock and painted.  I am sitting on the Turtles head.  It actually is used to hang up hammocks from it to trees so people can sit and enjoy the lake Titicaca harbor behind me. My friend Karly.
Copacabana was the religious center of the Incan's.  It still is a very religious, special city today for the Bolivian people.  The crosses in this picture were erected in the 1950's to replace and beautify the top of this steep mountain, which for many years before was used by the Spanish to give religious sacrifices/gifts. Although the top of this mountain originally had Incan significance, the Spanish converted it to a Christian religious center.  Even today many Bolivians make a yearly 3 day trek (over Easter) to this place to worship.  Also if you look to the right you see blue tents where miniature houses, money stacks, computers, cars....etc..... are sold.  If you buy one here you can have it blessed and it means that you will get that in the future.  But you first buy a miniature then have it blessed.  There are so many types of cars and houses, you can choose what kind of car you want, if you want a farm or a business, or a small/large house.  It was really interesting for me to see this.  The vendors make them mostly by hand.  
I bought a very small money stack for picture purposes and to show you what it looks like, along with the golden drink "Inca Kola" Jake's favorite soda from Peru. 

This is another picture by a beautiful yellow building in my hotel (not my room though) with my friend Suzanne
Our entire group on the Isla Del Sol.  I will talk more about it later.  the Isla Del Sol is a rather large island located in the middle of the Lake.  It took us about 1 1/2 hours to get there, because our boat was an old fishing boat that maybe went 5-10 miles an hour???? Ruth, Maria, Erin, Suzanne, Karly, me, Craig, Justin, and Tracy.

If you can't tell I have a fetish with beautiful yellow buildings etc...
This is my friend Maria standing in the main harbor of Lake Titicaca, so pretty!!!

After our 1 1/2 hour boat ride we landed at Isla Del Sol where we had a traditional Bolivian/Incan lunch (shown below) which I must say was fantastic.
The large corn is called Choclo, along with potatoes, yucca, fried minnow-like fish from the lake, fave bean (large) and of course their amazing trout caught that morning along with boiled eggs.  I have to say YUM!!! all served in blankets and we eat out of hand-made ceramic dishes. It was so simple without any preservatives or sugar, but I loved it, it still had great flavor!

Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) is an island in the southern part of Lake Titicaca.Geographically, the terrain is harsh; it is a rocky, hilly island. There are no motor vehicles or paved roads on the island. The main economic activity of the approximately 800 families on the island is farming, with fishing and tourism augmenting the subsistence economy. 
There are over 80 ruins on the island. Most of these date to the Inca period circa the 15h century AD. Archaeologists have discovered evidence that people lived on the island as far back as the third millennium BCE. Many hills on the island contain agricultural terraces, which adapt steep and rocky terrain to agriculture. 
I love the previous three pictures because they really demonstrate the beauty of Isla Del Sol and how remote it is.  The area is very poor, but at the same time the people eat lots of trout from the lake and farm all their vegetables.  The woman in the last picture is wearing the traditional indigenous clothing for Bolivia.
My friend made fun of me because I was chasing the lambs around trying to pet them.  But I love this picture so much because it truly demonstrates the beauty of this island.  It is not tropical by any means, more temperate, but still very beautiful.  It's such a breath of fresh air to see such simple lives, and to literally breath clean air.  Simplicity can bring a lot of happiness for many people.  It makes you stop and think about what you think are necessities and which are not. Also, I just loved seeing other ways of life, so may people live agrarian centered lives and it is a way of life that I will never fully understand, but enjoy learning about.
This picture is literally taken on top of the Isa Del Sol peak.  I am on top of the world here and what a beautiful world we live in!!!

January 17, 2011

The Highest City in the World

So I have now been in La, Paz Bolivia for a couple weeks. This is a beautiful city of approx 20 million people.  This is the highest city in the world.

Pedro de la Gasca, to whom the Spanish king had entrusted rule over the former Inca lands, commanded Captain Alonso de Mendoza to found a new city commemorating the end of the civil wars in Peru. Then the city of La Paz was founded on October 20th, 1548 under the name of La Ciudad de Nuestra SeƱora de La Paz (The City of Our Lady of Peace).

 this is the The Pacha Mama a statue symbolizing the Mother Earth.

 These two pictures are of an early 19th century Catholic church.  I all of the south american "Plaza de Arma's" there is the main cathedral and usually a few government building including the capitol building which you see below in yellow.   These buildings are beautiful and massive.  it's hard to believe that they built them so long ago.

 Me and my friend Craig tried Papaya ice cream for the first time.  I have to say that it wasn't great, but I actually dislike papayas they have a really weird smell and taste.  YUCK!
I'm on top of the world LITERALLY!  I have to say coming to Bolivia has been such a gift and a blessing.  There are so many amazing things to learn from other countries.  Especially ones that are as poor as Bolivia.  Even the little guys have so much we "big shot Amercan's" can learn from them.

What I love most about Bolivia thus far (my top 5)
  1. I love that whenever you greet anyone it is with a hug and a kiss on the cheek
  2. I love that they have 2 hour lunches, because they believe it is important to spend time with your family and eat and cook homemade food.
  3. Because Bolivia is such a poor country they have what is called "medicina primero" which means primary medicine, which is not what you and I call our primary docs, it is actually the primary level of medicine meaning PREVENTION.  They have to force doctors, nurses, and public health workers to educate their people in ways of prevention, because they do not have the resources or infrastructure to handle the secondary level which is treatment of diseases.  In my clinic that i work in they spend a lot of time teaching the poor about sanitation, bathing, nutrition etc...
  4. I love the Spanish language even though it is hard trying to understand it.
  5. I love that each meal is formal.  All my breakfast, lunches and dinners are on china with tea-cups and bread plates.  Meals are supposed to be a celebration with one's family.

Here are the TOP 5 reasons I love the US:
  1. we have indoor smoking regulations (I am soooo sick of being a smoker, even though I have never had a cigarette in my life, living here I might as well be one because 50% of Bolivia smokes all in my face).
  2. I love that in the US people are not allowed to pee in the streets.  First of all our streets do not stink to high heaven.  But, yesterday a man just whips it out and pees right in front of me and everyone else.  AHHHHH sooo gross :(
  3. We can get loans to go to school.  In Bolivia there are only a couple public universities and in order to get into one of them you have to score VERY high on your exams.  Otherwise in order to attend the private universities you have to pay cash, which prevents the poorer students from attending.
  4. I am so grateful that we have safe drinking water in the US, it's really a hassel to not even be able to brush your teeth with the tap water or don't get it in your eyes etc... for fear of infection.
  5. I am grateful for our ease of living in the US.  Even the poorer class in the US still has relative ease compared to the agrarian poor districts here that live in mud houses and work sun up to sun down for their food and income. In most places of the world people farm their food.  There is no such thing as Safeway or Smith's.  I don't want to take my abundance of food for granted.  the children in my clinic are fed twice a day by our clinic, but do not get dinner at home because their parents have to feed the older children (who did not eat breakfast and lunch) so they go to bed with many tears

January 13, 2011

White Coat Ceremony

The last couple months have been amazing and one of my greatest accomplishments occurred December 17th, 2010.  I am not done with school, but there is a medical tradition that marks the transition from student to "student practitioner" this is called the White Coat Ceremony. It is when we are awarded our white coats after these many, many moths of grueling, intense studying (didactic work).  I have to say it was truly one of my best memories and days of my schooling thus far.  It's amazing to think I actually got through this part of it.  All those late, late nights and early mornings and 8 hour classes are behind me now and will never again torment me :)!!

Here are a few highlights  enjoy!

 My #1 fan of all time (Jake).  This journey has been just as hard for him as it has for me.  He has been solid as a rock throughout the entire process. I do not lie when I say, I don't even know the last time I made dinner, (amongst many other household duties) he has pretty much taken on most of the daily life necessities.  He does this with a huge smile on his face and with so much love.  I admire his selflessness so much and will be entirely grateful for his support forever, because I know it has not been easy for him.  But, I do have to say that his cooking ROCKS!  We definitely found a secret talent of his.  Thank you Jake, you are my best friend and nothing short of remarkable!  It is when you go through things like this together, that I KNOW we were meant for each other, THANK YOU JAKEY!
 My biggest fans! (mom and dad) thank you for making the trip for the weekend to be there with me, I know there were many, many times growing up where I was pushed to achieve far beyond what I thought I was capable of because of my parents love and expectations of me.  You both are truly wonderful examples of hard work, determination and unending support/love for me.  Thank you for always allowing me and helping to be the best that I can be!  My sister Haley was there too, but I can't find a picture with her, thank you for coming.  I love your spirit and joy that you bring to my life.  I have no doubts that you will be 100 times more successful that I have been.  Keep working hard and to my ENTIRE family THANK YOU for loving and supporting me even when I was ornery :)
 Me and the American Academy of 
Physician Assistant President
 My Class (I am in the front row fourth to the right)!
 Many of my awesome Professors
 Me getting my white coat!
It is done (Phewwwww who would have 
thought it would happen)!

January 11, 2011


Located three hours from La Paz are the subtropical valleys known as the Yungas. The biggest town in the Yungas is Coroico, it sits on a small mountain slope just above a river with amazing views over the green forest-covered Andean foothills.
Coroico dates back to the colonial era and was used as a gold-mining outpost. Today, Coroico and the surrounding Yungas valleys are important agricultural areas. The Yungas is blessed with fertile land and excellent climate, which produce abundant cropsof coffee, fruits and coca for the markets of La Paz and the rest of the Altiplano region.

Also, Coroico and the surrounding villages in the Yungas valley make up one of the few places in Bolivia where you will see an African influence. Africans who were brought as slaves to work in the mines. When silver-mining declined they were moved to the Yungas to work on coca and other plantations. Slavery was later abolished in the 19th century and many remained in the Yungas growing fruit, coca and coffee on small farms. Many of these Afro-Bolivians communities are isolated in a handful of villages in the Yungas valley and are rarely visited by tourists.

Coroico is probably best known for its road that leads to it. Officially called the Yungas Road but also called Death Road or World's Most Dangerous Road because it once had more deaths on it per year than any other road in the world. But this road is now replaced by a new one and it is only open to bikers.
 Here are my two new friends, Charlie and Jeena!
 I love this picture because it shows the beautiful, poor cobblestone streets of Coroico and if you look to the left you can see the traditional dresses of the native women in Bolivia. (Ruth, me, Maria, Erin)
 I just liked the view with this photo with my friend Erin.  I love the yellow houses.
 This is all the girls in my group just hanging out at the main square (Plaza de Arma's).  Karen, me, Maria, Erin, Suzanne, Karly and Ruth in the front.  All these girls have been in the program with me.  They pretty much rock and have been so amazing to spend time with. 
 This is a tree that we thought was fun that we climbed before going canyoneering.  This tree is located on steep mountainside between bushes of Coca (which can be made into cocaine) and coffee, and platanos (type of banana and other things)
AFTER!  Here we are in our canyoneering gear.  as we will be canyoneering waterfalls and the river that carves right through the floor of the jungle surrounded by steep mountains. 
 Here I am getting ready for my turn to repel down this waterfall.

 Soooo fun!
 This isn't me, I didn't get one of myself, but this is one of the harder waterfalls to repel down because all your footing is behind the falls.  amazing.  The falls ranged from 10ft to approx 25-30ft.
 We came off conqueror!  After all the repelling, we floated down the river on our backs toward our lunch spot.
 After that amazing canyoneering, we had to climb one of the steepest hikes ever, to get back up the other side of the mountain to the cars.  So they could take us home on this narrow, dirt road carved right out of the mountain.  These people have no fear of heights whatsoever, I just closed my eyes or looked the other way at the wall instead of the floor bellow.
me in front of the beautiful landscape. 


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