As our travel team ventures through new communities, they’ll keep journals of their experiences! The full archive of these journals will be posted here and separated by trip.
Day 1 – Flying from Pearson International -> West Palm Beach -> Miami International -> El Alto International – August 16, 2014
- We flew a lot today, I’m so exhausted
- Currently hanging out at the Subway (at La Paz) -> I don’t feel like eating, head feels kind of heavy after all the flying
- Just want to relax a bit before heading to Cochabamba
- I really can’t wait to see more of Bolivia
- All I can think about is… “YOUR WORDS MEAN NOTHING I GO LA LA LA!….” (La La La – Naughty Boy Lyrics)
- Also, airplane food is horrible…
Day 2 – Flying from La Paz – Cochabamba! – August 17, 2014
- Finally landed in Cochabamba and met Niel and Clemente!
- They’re already really cool and nice people!
- Driving in Bolivia is NUTS, I would die if I had to drive…
- We went to the grocery store today, and apparently we have to cook for ourselves
- ALSO, building the bridge will take 10 days…and then surveying for a bit after, so we’re not actually going head back to Cochabamba for the weekends
- Looks like our trip has already changed so much!
- I really hope the bridge building goes well when we get to the community!
- Took a walk around Cochabamba after settling into our hostel
- It’s actually really interesting!
- Leaving the hostel for Totolima really early in the morning tomorrow
- Plus a 6 hour ride there…
- I miss my family and Alison :(
Day 3 – Driving to Totolima! – August 18, 2014
- Woke up at 6 AM today… at least the shower was surprisingly warm!
- Went out to the market in Cochabamba for breakfast and to get some money
- Drank a cup of coffee… it wasn’t too bad
- So the drive to Totolima ended up only taking 4 hours, but it was still long…
- The man that drove us was driving so fast, felt like I was about to fall off the cliff
- His music CD’s were so random too, like one minute it’s Bolivian Folk and then the next its like ABBA
- The scenery was so crazy like, all 4 seasons (snow, humidity, sun, like everything!)
- The people are very, very friendly!
- Most importantly, turns out, the groceries were for a senora who’s going to cook for us all our meals!
- The meal was so good though, after a long day of sitting around
- I’m so exhausted, signing out
- Cables tomorrow!
Day 4 – 1st Day of Work! – August 19, 2014
- THE HENS ARE SO LOUD (cockle-doodle-doing at like 3, 4, AND 5 AM) =.=
- I actually wanted to smack one
- Woke up bright and early at 7 AM!
- Breakfast was bread, jam and hot drinks, so that was really good!
- We installed the cables today! The cables are so heavy
- So we put them in place today, and we’re gonna set the sag tomorrow!
- We also had to clean up the crossbeams to prepare them for painting!
- Rode on the back of the truck to site after lunch! (SO FUN!)
- Me and Dilan had to do A LOT of clamping so I’m really tired, so much strength required
- Progress is looking really nice though!
- Again, senora’s food is so good
- Its 8:16 pm, I’m dead, signing out
Day 5 – 2nd Day of Work! – August 20, 2014
- THEM HENS…. AGAIN!
- Also some people moved in upstairs above us (apparently the teacher for the kids)
- THEY ARE ALSO LOUD
- The whole 7 AM wake up thing is becoming standard lol
- Same breakfast as yesterday… delicious!
- Neil and Clemente continued to set sag while the majority of us were painting the crossbeams and the suspenders
- Clamping is stupid…had to do it again
- We worked until 6 pm today! We’re going mad haha, work hard, play hard
- I attempted to talk in Spanish to some Villagers
- I quickly learned how much Spanish I still had yet to learn :/
- Soup for dinner (like yesterday)! It was really warm and yummy!
- We finally got the overall game plan for the rest of the trip:
- Finish Totolima by Wed, Aug 27
- Spend 2 days in Cochabamba to rest (as our weekend)
- Head off to Chimore to survey the site over the weekend, end date TBD
- Looks like our trip is mostly planned! Time really does fly when you’re working like mad!
Day 6 – 3rd Day of Work – August 21, 2014
- No bread slash no one at breakfast… :(
- Still having problems with the sag setting…wah, eventually got it by lunch though!
- Before heading back to site after lunch, we were able to hand out some soccer balls!
- And dang, we had so much to do after lunch:
- Cut crossbeams, cut decking, attached nailers to crossbeams, sorted good decking wood and bad decking wood
- Tomorrow we get to start the decking!
- Dinner was really yummy!
- One concern is that we brought so much water, but we haven’t drank enough and we have so much leftover…I’m gonna drink so much now…
- Looks like we’ll actually be back in Cochabamba by the 27th!
- We’re making really good progress and I can’t wait to see the completed bridge
- I hope no one back in Canada is worried (I HOPE ALISON DID WELL ON HER MCAT :(, wish I could’ve said good luck!!)
- Sleep time: 8:35 pm (lol)
Day 7 – 4th Day of Work – August 22, 2014
- Rice and milk for breakfast is actually so amazing, I really want to make this at home!
- Rechecked the sag of the cables this morning to ensure everything was level and prepared for the decking
- Finally started installing decking and it really looks like the bridge is coming together!
- We have to work through this weekend, but I know it will pay off when we get the 2 days of rest in Cochabamba!
- Almost died like twice today:
- After unscrewing a bolt on a clamp, dropped the bolt in pile of rocks….. thank goodness Relja found it though!
- Almost ate PEANUT SOUP…I totally did not notice it had peanuts until Neil was like…’wait…isn’t this soup de mani…a.k.a peanut soup?’ And at that point I literally shoved the bowl away from my mouth!
- Sleep time now (9:06 pm)!
- I hope Alison has fun on her vacation!
Day 8 – 5th day of Work – August 23, 2014
- Rice and milk again for breakfast!
- We didn’t get as far as we wanted on the decking yesterday so, we went crazy today (did like 4m yesterday, did like the rest of it today…minus one crossbeam LOL)
- Balancing on the cables is intense, but so fun and rewarding!
- Had a really yummy lunch in order to give us all energy for more decking!
- I worked during the morning so I helped out in the afternoon by passing decking wood to Dilan, Marianne, Neil and Clemente
- I was so exhausted at the end of the day, good thing we had a really nice dinner
- We played President before sleeping!
- I suck lol
- Sleep time (10:10 pm), we only have a half day tomorrow!
Day 9 – 6th day of work – August 24, 2014
- Half day today yay! (although I woke up really early today cause it was really hot for some reason…)
- I’m still really paranoid about the peanuts… have to be careful
- After finishing off that last crossbeam, we just chilled on site by the rocks with Coca Cola, cookies, and other snacks
- It was so relaxing to finally be done a substantial part of the project!
- Heading back at around 3:30 pm and there was a community soccer game going on!
- We spoke briefly about information for the report (just so we wouldn’t forget!)
- Neil insists I am the motorcyclist kinda dude….is this my calling???
- Played more President after dinner…I actually suck :(
- Sleep time again! (9:49 pm)
Day 10 – 7th day of work – August 25, 2014
- SO MANY motorcycles and dogs making noise at night and in the morning :/
- 2nd last day of work: There’s only the fencing left for today!…until I found out we had to paint them too….
- Used much to paint in order to make it look good!
- I’m so stupid for not writing down the name of the thing we had for breakfast, but it was this fried batter thing…just as good as, if not better than, rice and milk!
- I had 3.5 pieces and with honey, it’s so good…
- Is this real life? I can’t believe we’re almost done our very first bridge!
- (can’t wait to get internet back and tell everyone!)
- Played LOADS of President and I finally started winning hehe
- It’s 9:46 pm, time to sleep!
Day 11 – Last day of work – August 26, 2014
- We’ve officially finished constructing our first bridge!!! We finished painting the bridge and the approach!
- It rained all afternoon though, so we had a lot of time to relax… (play President and YuGiOh!)
- Had a couple beers at dinner to celebrate yay!
- Good night!
Day 12 – Back in Cochabamba (August 27, 2014)
- Writing this a day late, so I might have forgotten some details :/
- Woke up to the last cold day in Totolima. Was so sad :(
- Best breakfast EVER: had arroz con leche AND fried batter…thing! I’m going to miss the senora so much :/
- The Bridge on Inauguration Day, I can’t really express my emotions, but it was like a feeling of triumph! It felt real good to so the bridge look so majestic!
- Got a chance to get some pictures with the finished bridge, so I’m real happy!
- We were told the ceremony was going to start at 10ish…didn’t start until like…1
- We even ate lunch before it….BAD MOVE (you’ll see later)
- Once the ceremony started, there was a bunch of paperwork, but eventually, the bridge was officially the community’s!
- We get fed…EVEN MORE food….and free beer!
- We were given necklaces to wear that had a lot of veggies
- There were some with peanuts, so for the love of my life, I dodged those and thankfully I got one with other vegetables!
- Once the ceremony was over, we had to say our good byes :/ I was really sad to say good bye to these people and especially since we may never see them again!
- It also meant the beginning of the crazy 4 hour ride back to Cochabamba we feared at the beginning!
- This time around, the ride back was at night! Plus it was really foggy, so props to the driver for being very brave and safe!
- Once we saw the city, the vision brightened up as the city lights illuminated everything!
- We once again arrived at the hostel we stayed in for a day prior to the trip and said our last good bye to the driver.
- I was so hungry by this time (although it was really late)
- Me,Relja, Sion, and Marianne decided to get…a really really late night snack
- We found this sushi place in Cochabamba surprisingly and got sandwiches!
- However, it was like 1 AM by the time we got back and….we got locked out of our hostel…NOOOO
- Eventually we found a doorbell and rang it several times, perhaps maybe too many times.
- Eventually the door was open and we all quickly got ready for bed.
- I had trouble falling asleep knowing we had just finished our first bridge build with the chapter and was back in the city
- Me,Relja, Sion, and Marianne decided to get…a really really late night snack
Dear diary, sorry I didn’t keep up with my diary. I was sick for few days. The trip to Totolima was absolutely tiring. 3 flights and then 4 hours in the car. The drive was crazy. We were on the edge of the cliff and the driver drove so fast and there were curves pretty much every 5 seconds ON EDGE OF THE CLIFF!!! We went through every type of weather on the way to Totolima. We saw snows and llamas. I thought Bolivia would be a very hot country because it is located in South America. But no. It is freezing cold. I did not bring any warm clothes other than one sweater and everything else consists of t-shirts and shorts.
I wish I had written my diary everyday. I have so much to write. The city Cochabamba felt very welcoming. Our construction manager, Clemente was very friendly and greeted us with warm hugs. We also finally got to meet Neil, who’s our technical engineer.
It was interesting to fit seven people in a five seat truck. Three people at the front and four at the back. After a long, long drive we got to Totolima. Totolima is amazing and pictures can’t describe this place. It looks like a place where dinosaurs will appear behind the mountains. You can see nothing but the stars at night. I’ve probably never seen as many stars in my entire life. The view is phenomenal and there are mountains surrounding us. Although I love this place, I miss home because today is my fourth day without shower.
Our schedule with the bridge is tight. We get up at 8 am and then start working at 9 am and we stay out working on the bridge until 6pm. By the time it is 6 pm it becomes very dark and when we spent another hour eating dinner. It is very cold.
Since we do not have proper washrooms we don’t have warm water to take showers. They did have a school washroom that they said we could also use. I really liked how they built it and thought it was very smart. They had a pit connected to a pipe which led to the end of the cliff. We had to get our own bucket of water to manually flush it so the waste will be dumped off of the cliff, so the washroom could stay clean. The washroom building is made out of wood and, of course, no lights. It is funny how I would be really scared to walk all the way to the public washroom in the middle of the night thinking about ghosts, but Totolima is too peaceful and beautiful to be afraid that kind of stuff. I am perfectly fine to go to the washroom with my flashlight in the dark by myself. Tomorrow, I am hoping to take a shower because we are changing around the schedule a little bit.
Clemente and the whole Totolima community are so kind. They gave us a place to stay which was a first floor basement of a house used for storage. The travel team and I thought we would be staying outside with our tents. I am so glad that they were kind enough to provide us a place to stay because, during the night, it is very cold.
Today, we worked on painting the crossbeams and the colours were red, yellow, and green, which are the colours on the Bolivian flag. We were not painting the crossbeams just for decoration, but to prevent them from rusting.
I wish I had learned Spanish because it is hard to communicate with the community and Clemente. I tried approaching the children here, but I could only use the travel book Marianne brought to speak. I am so glad Marianne is here, she feels like my older sister. She takes care of me. I already learned so much about the bridge, but also about life. I am so blessed to come to Totolima. I look forward the exciting day tomorrow and also taking a shower. Time to sleep. Everyone is sleeping. BUENAS NOCHES!
Yes! I am keeping up with my diary. My new boots are getting dirtier and so is my work outfit. First off, I want to share the great news of taking shower. Well, it wasn’t a full shower. I just washed my hair. It was the most refreshing shower I have had in my life. Now my hair doesn’t smell bad and I do not have to wear a cap to cover the smell and the look. Now the next mission is to take a full body shower.
Today at the site, I finished painting the crossbeams and rebars for the suspension. My colour was yellow and it was just a bad to work with. I put so many layers but it didn’t look nice. It was a lot of bending and my back, shoulder and knees hurt so much. Every time I got bored or tired from working I looked up at the scenery for a few minutes as a break before going back to work.
I got to tension the cable wires. This is the part where you have to use abbey level and the cables has to be above the shooted level so the cables are higher than the design sag point. The next step is to hit it with a tool to lower the cable. We used a winch, which made it really easy to adjust the cable. All you had to do was crank up the winch. Dilan and Arthur painted the anchor cable wire with tur so the wires won’t rust when it rains.
When we came back from the site, the community built a door and a light for us! I was so touched and thought I should work harder to finish the bridge. Although the community is little bit shy, they really care for us. And what I thought was really cute was that everyone was gathered close to where we stay to see our reaction. It was a really nice big surprise.
Also, I noticed today that Clemente really tries to get the community involved. We were using an abbney level and one local man was very interested in the work. Imagine how curious he would be. What it looks like in the abbney level. Clemente took the time to explain what we were doing and let him try to use the abbney level.
My hoodie is getting stinkier. Now my goal is to shower and wash my clothes. Off to sleep. BUENAS NOCHES!
Today was a decent day. In the morning, we were missing our bread so we couldn’t eat much. We worked on the cable sag and it was really boring and frustrating because we had to adjust it couple of times to get the perfect sag point and leveling both cables.
I washed my hair again. Whoo! Two days in a row. But then the weather got cold… and then I felt really sick. I had a really bad headache and felt nauseous. After a warm soup for dinner I felt a lot better.
I exchanged my flashlight with Clemente’s. My flashlight was a lot brighter and I knew Clemente would make better use out of it than I would. I also gave away my mosquito coils to Neil for his future travelling.
I love writing the diary when Marianne is writing hers beside me before bed. Tomorrow we are doing the decking. And that means the bridge is almost done! Everyone in the community worked really hard to get the rocks for the approach. I should work as hard. BUENAS NOCHES!
In the afternoon, we were working on the decking. We had the fall protection on and it was fun walking on the cables. But it was funniest to watch Dilan because he was so scared. So then we teased him by shaking the cables haha. We didn’t finish much today and tomorrow we will have to work harder to get everything done. I was glad to see the screwdrivers when we were working with the decking because these were what I worked with for my first co-op job. I spent most of the time in the student machine shop at school making designs. I thought it would never help, but it actually did, so I was happy about it. That’s about it today. BUENAS NOCHES!
Today was a decent day. Took a full body shower, although it was just dipping my body in the freezing cold water in the river. It was my first shower in Totolima and it felt so good. All our travel team members have been working hard on the bridge under the sun. Maybe that’s why it felt better. I got so many mosquito bites during the shower it’s crazy.
Relja and I spent the afternoon washing everyone’s laundry at the river! It felt good to wash all the dirty clothes. The locals used big rocks to dry their clothes because the rocks are heated up from the sun. We didn’t have many places to put our clothes because all the ladies were doing laundry as well and they used most of the rocks to dry their belongings. But kind kids climbed over big rocks to dry our clothes where we couldn’t reach.
We almost finished the decking and the bridge already looks fantastic. Tomorrow we are going to finish off the decking and take half a day off. I am planning to use the time tomorrow to go over the report with Neil. Maybe I’ll go for another swim or shower at the river.
Doing the laundry with Relja was really fun because we were so excited to swim in the river, so we did the laundry as fast as we could. Although we couldn’t speak Spanish, we managed to borrow all the laundry tools from the local ladies who were also doing their laundry.
Before bed, the travel team really got into playing President. I was the “ass” for the longest time and I was still the “ass” by the end of the game. I will move up to President. Have to put on that afterbite. BUENAS NOCHES!
Today we finished the decking by 11:30 am. Now the last step is the fencing. Just a few more days and we will be done. The free time in the afternoon was good because we got time to relax and wash ourselves. Relja and I tanned and it was funny to see the community’s reaction of us half naked on the school field. I liked the fact that the community in Totolima spend time together as a community. Every Sunday they have a soccer tournament for all the men in the town. The ladies come and watch the game and chat. And they stay at the field for the whole day. From morning to evening until the sun is down. We finished the day with playing President. I couldn’t be a President again. Maybe next time! BUENAS NOCHES!