VOYAGE
VOYAGE

 

Bernadette's Travel Blog

 

Hey guys,

welcome to my blog!

I am currently exploring

South America,

I hope you enjoy reading!

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As ICYE Bolivia gives 2 Months of vacation to all their volunteers except for Germans who have just one month (long story; the German government gives funding to them, therefore they have stricter rules like for example just one travel month) I decided to travel with a Columbian friend. Well, after one day I already regretted my decision because he didn’t understand that I didn’t want more than friendship.

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Me, myself and I traveling to Argentina

Crazy Carnaval

Carnaval is a very important event here! My boss Freddy told me that the people on the countryside who don’t even celebrate Christmas celebrate Carnaval.

The biggest canrnaval parade is in Oruro, in the “Entrada” (the opening parade) are thousands of people dancing and so many people watching! So of course we had to go there! (I’m sorry for not having good photos; I didn’t want to bring my camera because it could be stolen so easily there (the one I posted is from the internet).

It is so impressive! They all wear different costumes, representing different cultures and traditions within Bolivia. Many girls are dressed up as devils girls and boys as angel Lucifer and devils…

It is a bit contradictory and I have not understood a 100%, but they are actually dancing for the “Virgen de Socavon” (another representation of Saint Mary) but also for the devil. Our host mum believes that there are always many more accidents in the period of Carnaval because they are more or less calling the devil…?! Well, I think that maybe the reason why there are more accidents could be because people are drinking like crazy in this season…

It is traditional to have water wars at Carnaval but in Oruro it was just foam spray… so there were crazy spray wars until finally everything was wet and everyone’s skin was burning because this shit is definitely not good for the skin. Neither for the environment because of all the aluminium tins…

We were in Oruro on Saturday and Sunday, Monday and Tuesday I spent in Sucre.

Carnaval in Sucre was not as impressive as Oruro, no fancy costumes,… but there was many street parades and even more drunk people.

But the craziest thing was the water wars. After 5 minutes walking through the town I was completely wet! People threw water bombs, spray people with that disgusting foam or just poor a whole bin of water over your head. And while you try to escape one, the next hits you.

Another tradition is that people make “Coa” or “Challa” in their homes. This is a ritual for Pachamama (Mother earth) to have good luck, money, love, food, whatever you need for the whole year. It consists of burning different herbs, lucky charms, (fake) money, honey, etc. and going with the burning thing through the house. The smoke smells really nice and is brought in each each room. Furthermore you have to be drinking Singani (the national Schnaps of Bolivia) or any other strong alcohol and poor a few drops on the floor of every room, while praying “Our Father”. It is important that everything you put in the fire really burns down, otherwise, so says the tradition, it won’t work. When everything is finished you have to dig a hole and bury the ash as a gift to Pachamama, pray again “Our Father” and poor more Singani on that place. We did that with our host mum and I found it really nice. I also like the mix of the belief in Pachamama and Christianity. I heard so many stories of people who are always lucky because they make “Coa” at least once a year and that people had bad luck after denying that Pachamama exists, and not wanting to make the ritual even though they had been told to do it! I don’t know what to think of that but I definitely believe that we should be thankful for all that mother earth has given to us and that we should take care of her!s

Crazy Carnaval

Unknown artists

A few weeks ago I had another opportunity to go to the countryside with my Boss, Freddy.

In one of the tiny villages I saw two women who were winding the thread around the loom, preparing a very large weaving. Thread by thread, very carefully, they prepared a perfect rainbow coloured base for the weaving.

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Unknown artists

Recently all the ICYE volunteers who are living in Sucre decided to travel to Cochabamba over the weekend.

We got some really cheap bus tickets (30bs. each) from the company “Suarez” for a “semi cama” overnight bus. Semi cama means you can lay down a bit. More than in an airplane! ;) Well, when we got on the bus we realized that it was not really semi cama, more like a normal bus but for that prize it was okay...

At least… until after approximately two hours the bus just stopped.

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Our adventurous weekend trip to Cochabamba

Inca Pallay - My project

Inca Pallay is an association composed of more than 200 weavers, settled in 15 communities in the Jalq’a and Yampara ethnic areas of Chuquisaca, Bolivia, seeking to improve their living conditions, to market their textile art, under the principle of fair trade. Their products are handmade with local materials and techniques of their culture.

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Inca Pallay - My project

During the whole month of September there was an international culture festival in Sucre. Almost everyday there were free activities like theatre, cinema, different workshops for dancing, etc.… Some of them were really good while others were a bit boring or just weird, but taking into account that everything was for free, it was really cool!!

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Festival internacional de la cultura/Virgen de Guadalupe

The first days in Sucre

To go to Sucre we had to take the bus overnight for 12 hours. That sounds a bit crazy but there are very comfortable bed busses where you have quite a lot of space and you can almost lie properly. At the beginning we all were really happy about that but during the night the heating did not work at all so that it became sooooooo cold in the bus, it was horrible!!! (4° C, windy because of leaky windows)

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The first days in Sucre

Finally arrived in Bolivia

We left Belem on Tuesday 23rd August at 3 am. As there is no direct flight connection to La Paz we had 4 different flights until we finally arrived there. Our stops were Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Santa Cruz. We thought we would miss the flight in Sao Paulo as we had only one hour to change on that huge airport. But we were lucky and we arrived on time on the right gate. (you can ignore the "last call")

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Finally arrived in Bolivia

Goodbye Austria - Hello Brazil

So, after more than two weeks of travelling round I finally found a moment to write down what I’ve experienced.

First about our trip to Brazil.

I am travelling with Michael, another Austrian exchangee.

This is the first time for me to leave Europe so I was quite excited to get on a huge plane and spending 12 hours on it. We left on Saturday, 13th August. It might have felt better not to be drunk during the flight but we arrived well in Manaus nonetheless.

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Goodbye Austria - Hello Brazil

Why this is not a "wasted year"

While I was preparing my exchange year I've been talking to a lot of people, experiencing a lot different reactions. Luckily most people at least pretended to be interested and told me that they were sure it would become a great experience. But I also met people who told me I wasted my time and I should start university as early as possible to get a good job and start earning money...

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Why this is not a "wasted year"