Volunteering in Bolivia: back to bartending
Now we move forward to backpacking Bolivia. Originally, I was just in Bolivia just to enjoy and be a tourist, totally. I didn’t plan to volunteer here since I think I’ve had enough for the past few months. From Peru, I traveled with my friends (who are also my co-volunteers in Paracas) to La Paz and found myself yearning to work — again.
The first week was fun. I didn’t do anything. While my friends are working, I was just there like any other tourists. Drinking, chatting and not worrying about night shifts or serving drinks. Day after day, I became jealous of them and realized that I couldn’t function without volunteering. I really can’t.
And so, I talked to the bar manager and asked if there’s still a spot for one more volunteer. Luckily, he said yes and I started right away! I’ve worked in a bar before so I basically know the deets. Other things were done differently but all things were the same. I made so many friends in this bar than I did in my entire volunteering life because everyone’s hanging around the bar all day. There’s really nothing to do in La Paz but to drink because the weather is awful especially when it ends up being ‘negative.’
I was supposed to leave and be in Brasil for the opening of the World Cup (12 June) but I ended up extending for two more weeks. I don’t know, I couldn’t explain it. One day, I just woke up saying “I’m gonna take my time and I will leave Bolivia when I’m ready.” I feel like three weeks wasn’t enough. Every day, something amazing happens and it just made me stay.
I couldn’t decide which photos to include in this post so I decided to make a photo essay. All of my posts about volunteering are so long that I don’t even re-read it so I am giving you a different one this time.
At first, I think we wouldn’t fit. We didn’t feel it the first time we arrived in Bolivia but here we are, sharing our lives to different people again.
I liked being around these people because I can do whatever I want. I can be me. At this very moment of my life, on this photo, I remembered who I really was: I am a person full of fun and compassion.
There was one time when the manager made us take the day off to experience the famous beer spa. One of the best nights of my life bathing in beer on 6-degree Celsius weather. Who worked that night? There was one volunteer who arrived so we’re all saved.
Afternoon shifts are the most boring because everyone’s asleep and recharging for the upcoming night. Hence, social media addiction. That’s also the time when the internet works best because there’s literally no one. Still, we have to be responsible for our shifts.
New home, new responsibilities. I am so used to living in staff dorms with these people and also got used to the mess. This was the first day in 2 weeks that we agreed that “it’s definitely time” to clean. Can you spot my bed?
I was the only girl playing with them but I loved it. In my volunteer work in Colombia, there was one time when the boys went to play and didn’t let me go even if I invited myself because I’m a girl. These are one of the worst experiences I had in South America. Glad Bolivia made a difference. They let me play and they couldn’t believe their eyes!
Best girlfriends in the world! I’ve never worked with so many girls in my life and it was fantastic! We got to share dramas, hormones, tears and drunken karaoke nights and I honestly missed that for quite some time now.
These two discovered a store where you can get an 1800 bottle of tequila for 140BS (U$20.26) so most of the nights are called tequila nights. I don’t know why our batch of volunteers has a total desire for tequila. It’s a consigned preference.
Of course, we have a life too. After work hours, we go out with the whole staff and our new found friends aka guests of the hostel. We’d pave the cold city just to find a club to dance to and finally be served by other people. We get sick of making drinks too.
These are one of the best nights because, for the first time, we all had the same interest on the same night. We usually go out separately because there will always be a time when one is not on the mood or just too cold to go out.
These are one of those nights… Karenina and I made really good friends with a group of French, a thing that is really rare for me considering I only have one good friend from France. I don’t know, I stayed in France for a while but just didn’t feel the good vibes from the people. But these guys are the best!
Bolivia surprised me a lot. I thought it will be completely boring because of the cold weather but I must say, this was the craziest city I’ve ever been to in terms of partying. This is also the place where I got deep relationships with my co-volunteers and now I consider them my best friends. From Peru, I think we’ve had enough experiences to consider each other as ‘good friends.’ For almost four months of travelling together, these people are my family and I will never ever forget them.
It really is true. You will meet your longtime friends on the road.
Thank you for this beautiful experience, people. I couldn’t imagine going to Brasil without you guys but I had to do it. I guess it’s time to be on my own again.