Cochabamba. I’m one week in to a three-month artist residency at the volunteer organization Sustainable Bolivia. How I’d ever have found this place on my own I have no idea. Ever since spending a year in Barcelona and learning some Spanish, South America has been on my mind as the next destination. As it turns out, I’m not as much of a world traveler as perhaps I thought I would be. It’s been 8 years since Barcelona and aside from a brief trip to New Zealand, I haven’t ventured out of USA/Canada.
I’m in the “figuring things out” stretch of time here in Cochabamba. One week in and I have figured out how to walk the city without getting run over, where to buy fruits and vegetables, and how to safely cook and eat without getting sick. Everybody keeps telling me that I’m going to get sick at some point, but I refuse to believe it.
I can’t really believe that I’m here. It seemed such a leap. Bolivia? I’d believe it when I was there. It started to feel real when I got to Lima, Peru, and departing the airport, riding through the busy streets, I took in the bustle, the bright colors, the thick air, the sounds. A whole world of life existing here of which I had no idea.
Briefly I wondered what I was doing here. So clearly different: run-down, polluted, dangerous even. I’d launched myself into it as if on a lark: “Oh sure! I’m going to Bolivia”. Did I really take the time to consider what this entailed? Was I ready to live in a 3rd-world country? Since when am I a bold and adventuresome traveler?
I considered the effort I’d put in to get down here, considered the fact that I was already here, and I decided I’d better give it a go.