It’s the Tibet of the South Americas; the highest and most isolated of the Latin American republics. From snowcapped Andean peaks, green jungle to low lying savannas. As much as 50% of the population are pure Indian blood so it’s the most traditional country in South America. From La Paz to Tiahuanaco to Lake Titicaca, to Isla de Sol, to Los Yungas; there is something compelling to see at every turn. Because of the elevation, the weather can be psychotic. I’ve never been anywhere with such variable weather conditions. One moment I’m wearing three layers of sweaters and the next I’m sweltering hot pulling off layer after layer. Not just variety in weather but in people, which is the beauty of the country. You never know what you’re going to find in Bolivia. It’s raw, crude and powerful. Another bonus is since it’s not heavily visited by tourists, I found myself sharing the experiences with just a handful of people. Bolivia is still one of the least visited countries in South America. I think the underdevelopment is a blessing in disguise as I’ve rarely seen so much wilderness in near pristine condition
I tried salteñas which are similar to a baked empanada. We stopped and bought them at a vendor. They are pastries filled with beef, pork or chicken along with peas, potatoes. You can get them sweet, slightly spice or if you are like me, very spicy.
Salteñas is the most popular snack in Bolivia.You can also get this pastry that has spicy meat or chicken along with chopped vegetables, olives and hard boiled eggs. It’s a mid-morning snack named after the city of Salta in Argentina.
Saice is a typical Bolivian meal that is made of spicy beef cut up in little pieces and chuño puti which is dehydrated potatoes cooked with egg, then it is garnished with tomatoe and onion sarza.Siesi es un plato tipico de Bolivia que consiste de carne picada sazonado en aji colorado, servido con chuno puti y sarza que es basicamente tomate, cebolla y perejil.
Wahtia is a plate that consists of pork, beef and chicken cooked in the earth on hot rocks. The meats are placed in a covered container and buried over hot rocks to cook for hours. This plate is accompanied by bolivian corn, potatoe and plantains. Wahtia es un plato que consiste de carne de res, pollo y cerdo. Estas carnes son cocinadas en un recipiente y enterrados en la tierra sobre piedras calientes, hasta estar totalmente cocidos. Este plato es acompanado de choclo (maiz), papa y platanos cocidos.
This meal is an exercise in being full or in my case; there was so much food on the plate I couldn’t even attempt to eat it. The gracious family I stayed with wanted my last meal to be special. They meant well but that much food and particularly meat on one plate, was too much for me.
Bolivia is the oldest country known to eat potatoes. They have more than two hundred varieties divided into three groups: red, yellow and white.
Bolivia is bien disorganizado– chaotic, but there is something about the chaos that once I walk away from it, even for a day, I start to miss it. The warm people who add “ito” to the end of a word to make it more polite. The dogs running amuck as if they have somewhere to go, fresh bread baked daily that you can buy ten pieces for 5 Bolivian pesos (.75 cents), the shining sun one moment followed by thunder and lighting so strong that it is advised to unplug your computer and poverty so shocking that it seems like a scene from a film. In the film business we use pop up tents to keep the actors, director, producer, etc. comfy and cozy when the location is too hot. I saw families in Bolivia living on the streets in those tents except their tents had holes in them.
I think what I’ll miss most of all is tea time. The family actually sits down together nightly while enjoing tea, fresh bread, pastries and take a moment to be in each other’s presence.