Earlier this week, my wife and I arrived in La Paz, Bolivia.
It's her homeland and my adopted second home (San Francisco is my adopted homeland, busting the little town in Massachusetts in which I was born down to a foggy memory). Maria has been eager to spend some time with her family and old friends and I was feeling ready for a sabbatical from American life, so we planned a 3 month trip.
Bolivia is an incredible place.
La Paz sits at 12,000 feet above sea level, in a valley high in the Andes mountains. The country also holds tropical rain forests, desert valleys, and massive salt flats. In fact, Bolivia is considered one of the most biodiverse countries on earth.
The architecture ranges from Spanish colonial palaces to a sort of nouveau-Bolivian which looks like retro-futuristic spaceships. Travel out of the city and you'll come upon huts made from clay and stone-- the same kind the local indigenous community have been living in for a thousand years.
I am going to see all of it, and I can't wait to show it to you.
It's a nation on the rise.
The politics-- like in many developing Latin countries-- are a bit shaky. Since the country got it's independence in 1825, there have been 190 revolutions or coups. That's kind of a lot.
The sitting president, Evo Morales (a socialist and indigenous native), is a polarizing figure but has brought unquestionable gains, most notably in the quality of life for indigenous peoples and reduction of poverty. He's also been a vocal opponent of corporate-capitalism, neo-liberalism, and US influence. He just lost a referendum to run for a fourth term as president, with his third (and last) term coming to an end in 2020.
Most locals, whether they like Evo or hate him, agree that things are better now than when he took office. Bolivia has been ranked as one of the top countries for entrepreneurship in the world for the past 10 years, and the evidence is everywhere. Construction is a constant, with big, modern buildings sprouting up on ancient hillsides and hip, new restaurants filled by the thriving middle class. La Paz is a city full of entrepreneurs, hustlers, badasses, and pirates. My kind of people. Stick around CTOB and you'll probably meet some of them.
It's also the perfect place for a couple of artists on sabbatical.
Inspiration is everywhere. Illimani, a 21,000 foot peak, looks down on the city. It is a daunting reminder of how small and insignificant we humans truly are. But it's also evidence that there is something massive and magnificent waiting for you around every corner, and a frequent reminder to stop and appreciate the majesty of the natural world.
Not to mention the fact that hallucinogenic cactus grows from the sidewalk.
There is so much I want to show you. Minibuses and truffis, the Teleferico, the Cholitas (they wrestle), the half-million stray dogs that roam the streets of La Paz.
And I want to tell you all about the spiritual journey, however it plays out. I don't know what my destination is, but I know that it's time for me to depart from the soul-poison of the American lifestyle. For years, I've woken up every morning with the insidious feeling that I'm late for something, and come hell or ayahuasca I'm ready to leave that feeling behind. When you don't give your best 40 hours per week to work, where does it go? I can't wait to find out.
One thing that I do know is that I want to get better at expressing myself through words and pictures. I'm going to do that, as best I can, by chronicling the next three months on this blog. You can help me with that by following along and keeping in touch. Let me know what you think about the content that comes through CTOB, tell me what you want to know about this magical little country, or just say "hi".
This is the blog of Bo Livin'. Thanks for joining me on this journey. It's going to be epic.
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