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Letter 1, Bolivia. January 2006

I write this short letter on behalf of The Bolivian family at the orphanage (Boliviafamilien Norge), a brief history of how I came to South America. I came to Brasil to spend half a year as a back packing tourist. At first it was quite interesting, spending my days on the beach and enjoying the Carnival, but after 2 months I was tired of wine and songs. I wanted to see more of this continent. I heard of many orphanages run by Norwegians in Bolivia and wrote to many asking for work. They asked about my background as well as my Christian beliefs. Only one wanted to employ me who were called "The Bolivian Family".
They had no objections and received me with open arms. I had many exciting times whilst there. I lived with the children, some had been drug addicts, and the other volunteers. I went hunting in the jungle with half civilized Indians, which was my greatest experience.

I returned to Norway to work a little, and went to Bolivia in October to help build a new children's home, which we finished on the 26th December.

I bought a bicycle and began to ride towards the United States starting in Cochabamba in Bolivia and moved on to La Paz, the worlds highest capital city (3700 metres above sea level). I had never cycled before at this height, but wanted to try. After packing what I thought necessary I set off. It wasn't a problem on the even roads in good weather, but after 2 days the storm clouds
began to form.

The following day there was snow, rain and frost, which I hadn't expected at all. The altitude began to make breathing difficult, and the clothing I had wasn't made for the cold. Later I dumped half of my camping equipment because it was far too heavy and had to to ask local people for accommodation, as it was much too cold sleeping in the tent. People let me sleep in their houses for small payments. Sometimes truck drivers would cheer me up by blowing their horns and giving me a thumbs up. Despite this it was the worst cycle trip of my life, and I was very happy to reach La Paz.

Each day I heard that the rainy season had begun, and was told to head for the coast of Peru. I began heading north towards Peru, and when I reached Lake Titicata the weather began to improve and the travelling became easier. My fitness had improved and I was making 150 kms a day.

I was surprised to find the Kon Tiki museum, which an old lady showed me around after telling her I was Norwegian. Continuing on towards Puno in Peru, I also saw the floating islands of straw in Lake Titicata, which I must have been the first person to ride a bicycle on. A young boy ran after me wanting to sit on my bag rack, surely never seeing a bicycle before.

Another time I had to climb a pass to 4975 metres to reach the coast of Peru, when it started to rain again and the winds picked up. Luckily at the highest point an ambulance stopped and offered me a ride, and as I was soaking wet this made me happy. I fell asleep in the ambulance and when I woke again I was 100 kms closer to the coast. I've been surprised by the hospitality of the people from here.

At the coast two friends from The Bolivian Family came to visit me, Siv Broman, from Finland, and Heidi Vinnes, from Norway.

Now I follow the coast up to Colombia, where I want to spend Carnival.
Last Updated ( Monday, 06 April 2009 14:34 )