August 19, 2013
Today was Cole Chernoff’s 15th birthday. We woke up bright and early, loaded all our suitcases back onto the bus, and then went for breakfast. During breakfast we sang Cole Happy Birthday and gave him the card that all the Interactors and leaders signed as well as a beautifully decorated cake.
After breakfast we all rushed out to the buses and began our journey to Cochabamba. After about 20 minutes of driving, we stopped to switch onto our new bus. We took all of our stuff off the old bus and loaded it onto our new double decker bus. We then started our 10 hour bus ride. After driving for about 2 and half hours we stopped to eat lunch at Yapacana. For lunch we were served three courses, a peanut or noodle soup, chicken, rice and yucca, and a Bolivian desert. After lunch we continued our drive, and the scenes that we saw while driving were quite beautiful. We drove through country side that looked very tropical and saw many small towns.
While in one of the small towns most of the Interactors went and bought themselves some big bags of Coca leaves to help them with the change in altitude. We were all surprised at the amount of stray dogs there were along the road, either sleeping or wandering around. The most famous pass time for us on the bus was definitely playing cards and having random outbreaks of singing. Everywhere you looked on the bus there were groups playing games of Egyptian War, Crazy 8’s, speed, and many, many more. Some of us sat as a group at the top front of the bus and watched the road and the scenery. We came to the conclusion that driving in Bolivia is basically like a huge game of chicken as we almost hit multiple vehicles, a chicken, and a pig. For fear of getting altitude sickness Wren drank more than 6 big bottles of Coca Tea and water so she was probably in the bathroom more than 12 times and ate many coca leaves. When we finally saw Cochabamba in the distance, excitement came upon all of us…we had finally arrived.
Once we made it to the scout hall where we would be staying for the duration of the project, we had to get the luggage off the bus and drag them all up 3 flights of stairs. By this time everyone was beyond starving. After getting ourselves settled and our room assignments, we ate some chicken, rice, noodles and sandwiches. We then sang Cole Happy Birthday again, and ate the cake we had gotten for him. Joining us at dinner were various representatives from the Rotary clubs that included the Presidents of the Interact and Rotaract clubs from Cochabamba. We all helped with the cleanup and then went and cleaned ourselves up before going to bed. What we all had expected to be a long boring bus ride actually turned out to be a very eventful and fun day. Everyone is now VERY excited to begin working on our project tomorrow morning.
– Ashlee and Anna
Buying coca leaves from a street vendor for 50 cents a bag
August 17, 2013
We arrived bright and early in Miami after our red-eye flight from Seattle. We had 8 hours to kill in Miami airport before our next flight later that day. It seemed as though everyone dispersed very quickly to find some breakfast! After people had filled up we all chose different activities to help the layover pass more quickly. Some people decided to go do a little bit of shopping while others just wanted to explore the airport and be able to move around. However a large group of us decided that sleep would be the best thing for us, so we set up camp on the airport floor, literally. Derek used quilts, blankets and suitcases to build a little tent! But it was short lived as people needed to get into their suitcases. The layover passed relatively quickly between sleeping, exploring and trying to complete Geoff’s Scavenger Hunt through the Miami airport. The Scavenger Hunt included a list of several random things that we had to find and take pictures of. Each group did a great job and enjoyed the prize at the end…Chocolate for everyone!
We finally departed from Miami at about 2:30pm on our last flight for the day. We flew from Miami to La Paz, Bolivia where we stopped for about an hour to let passengers off, let others on, and refuel the plane. After our short pit-stop we flew to Santa Cruz.
Then came the difficult part, getting 46 suitcases, 23 carry-on’s, 23 quilts, and 23 very tired people through customs and loaded onto two tiny buses. But with some cooperation we successfully made it to our hotel by 1:30am.
– Israel Millar
(No photos from today! I guess they were too busy travelling)
August 16, 2013
It was bittersweet leaving home today. There was excitement for Bolivia but we didn’t want to say goodbye to our beds, houses, showers, fridges, pets, friends and family. We arrived at the Spokane airport with our quilts, two suitcases filled with donated clothing (thank-you to all those that donated) for the people of Bolivia. We also had our carry-on luggage which was packed so full we had to get our siblings to sit on them so that they would close. We got our tickets, took a group picture with all forty-something suitcases and said our last goodbye to our loved ones. There were some tears but we all knew that we would have no time to miss them with all the fun we would be having. We breezed through security and started our adventure of a lifetime.
The plane ride to Seattle was short and sweet. We mostly chatted and played cards for the hour that we were on the flight. Before we knew it we were in Seattle! We had a two hour layover which gave us time to eat and make sure we were prepared for the next six hour flight to Miami. Unfortunately it was already dark, but looking out across the changing landscape of America was still cool. You could see little glowing patches across the horizon, and you would wonder which city it was below and who was living in it. Some of us succeeded in sleeping but most people were awake the majority of the flight. Excitement built when we peeked out the window and saw on one side of the plane, the rising sunset, and on the other, the lights of Miami. It was finally hitting us that we weren’t in Canada anymore. Our blue t-shirt prompted lots of questions from travelers and we were happy to share information about our project. All in all it has been a wonderful start to the trip and we are very excited to start our project and begin helping people in need!
Lots of love,
Raissa Chernoff and Jessica Trickey
Day 1 – Traveling by plane