Feeling the cold

Day 11

  • Not much in the way of physical activity – just trying to keep warm was enough!
  • Breakfast: oats, bran, a few flax seeds, orange peel and boiling water
  • Snacks: two slices of homemade bread and four hot chips
  • Lunch: Big piece of crust from the homemade bread with 10c of poutine gravy
  • Dinner: instant noodles with lots of broth

I kind of caved in a little… walking around cold in Whistler I had lunch with my host who bought a big bowl of poutine (hot fried chips with cheese and gravy). I did well to resist till there were some chips left over and I had four and put a teaspoon on leftover gravy on my slice of homemade bread – technically within budget but feel a little dirty for it…

I still to this day have no idea how the entire village of La Rivera, in Bolivia stayed warm?

La Rivera is about a 7-11 hour bus ride from Oruro, a relatively large town in Bolivia on the high altiplano. The village is at about 4300m elevation and the people live more or less subsistently growing a few simple crops of quinoa, garlic and not much else and raise llamas and a few alpacas. I did some teaching at the local school, climbed some nearby mountains and did a lot of learning.

The students of La Rivera playing soccer at 4300m. Was hard enough taking the photo than to even run and kick a soccer ball!

There are three distinct things I remember of my time in La Riverera

  1. The cold at that altitude and that most people didn’t wear shoes, because they couldn’t afford them – how they kept warm I have no idea except resilience
  2. That they were slowly building a much needed bridge as a community. This would take a long time to complete but at the end it would be an important part of the community, shared by all and have an affinity with everyone there as they had all played a role in it’s construction. This is unlike developed countries where it is built and taken for granted. There are both pro’s and con’s to this, but interesting and for me another appreciation of developing countries
  3. The landscape was bare – no trees for fuel, no sanitation (it was up to modesty how far you went to the toilet on the table-top flat landscape) and a continuous wind that would be perfect to run a single efficient windmill for a village that had no power and therefore limited education opportunities – no easy reading at night, no technical resources for the school, etc…

So yesterday I was freezing in Whistler on a pleasant 10 degree day probably because I was hungry and probably a little underweight. All I could only think of were the people of La Rivera and become warmer in my heart for how much I empathise with them and how I will commit to continue to advocate and educate to see them not have to fight for opportunities of education, beating the cold, shoes, toilets and the luxury and benefits of electricity.

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