Mi Ultimo Mensaje de Bolivia

As of today, Wednesday December 19th, I have one more full day in Bolivia. I fly out on Friday morning, bright and early and am not yet sure how I am going to fit all my stuff in my suitcases. I am sitting here at work, having pretty much finished everything I need to get done, writing my final blog post of this year-long journey which brought me to Bolivia. I really can't believe a year has gone by so quickly.

It seems like just last week I was arriving in Bolivia teary-eyed from leaving Dave behind in Ottawa, not able to communicate well in Spanish and generally scared to death of the adventure I was about to embark upon. A year later, I am again teary-eyed, to leave Bolivia after having had an incredible year here.

I am definitely experiencing mixed feelings about leaving Bolivia. I am excited to return to Canada and I have a lot to look forward to - being with Dave, a wedding or two (mine and my brother's), my friends and family and a new job at Cowater, which is certain to bring me on new adventures in the future. My experience in Bolivia helped me to get the job at Cowater, which is a company that does water and sanitation projects in developing countries all over the world and the company where I have wanted to work for several years!

On the other hand, leaving is always difficult. As much as I have looked forward to Friday all year, in the meantime I was busy living a life here which was full of small adventures, new friends and wonderful experiences and leaving it all behind is going to be tough, knowing that I may not be back for a very long time. I know that I will keep in touch with the good friends I have made, and that it is amazing how small the world is these days and you never know when you might see such friends again. The internet has made keeping in touch incredibly easy - everyone is just a skype away. But that doesn't make the actual leaving part any easier, does it?

I am definitely taking a wealth of experience with me back to Canada. Working for UNICEF has been such a learning experience, and helping the children of Bolivia lead healthier and happier lives has been an incredibly rewarding experience. There have been frustrating times, don't get me wrong, but looking back at my year at UNICEF, the frustrations can be overlooked for the bigger picture. I have been to small rural communities in the middle of nowhere and seen how proud the people are of the latrines they built because they know it will improve the health of their community. I have been to regions gravely affected by flooding and seen people living in the backs of trucks to stay out of the water and been a part of the response to help those people. I have been to the Bolivian "outback" (El Chaco) and been a part of an evaluation to start a project using solar pumps to provide water in the area, which has been awarded funding and is going to begin next year. I feel I have made a meaningful contribution in Bolivia and have gained so much myself.

Living in South America has given me a chance to see some of the continent and I have definitely fallen in love with its people, the beauty of the land and its cultures. I will be back again some day that is for sure. I have visited 4 countries in S. America this year, each completely different from the next. Aside from Bolivia, I spent 3 weeks in Peru in two different trips and was able to experience a lot of what that country has to offer, from mountains to ruins to trekking to jungle to the coast. In Rio (Brazil) I experienced the essential of that city and spent some time at the beautiful beaches. And in Colombia, aside from attending my first international conference (yes we talked about poo for an entire week, and it was great), I met some great people and generally fell in love with the culture and the beauty of that country.

I have also been able to see a lot of Bolivia itself, although not all of it - and I seem to have run out of time. Bolivia is a country of such diversity it's incredible. Each region is different from the next in its landscape, climate, people and culture. This also makes for an interesting political situation. I have been in Bolivia during the first year of the first indigenous presidency in its history. I have been here throughout two politically tumultuous periods, both of which saw some people killed. I have also seen many of the festivals which seem to occur continually, and involve incredible costumes and lots of dancing.

Of course, I am looking forward to being back in Canada, where the sanitation is so much better and I won't have to fight the ever-present microbes on a daily basis. Although I am now fluent in Spanish (and need to keep it up somehow once I'm home!) I am looking forward to living where I can speak and work in English again. A few of the other little things that I am looking forward to are: green spaces and biking, trees, fewer barking dogs at all hours of the night, people being on time, good curry, toilet paper in public washrooms (and toilet seats too!), coffee shops and ultimate frisbee. A few of the things that I will miss are: crazy mini-bus adventures, the low cost of living, having an empleada (a maid), the spontaneity of life here, learning and getting to know a new culture, dancing salsa, humintas (mmm sooo good), maraquetas for breakfast (fresh, daily) and the incredible scenery I see from my office window.

See you all soon!! Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to everyone. Keep reading for news on my next adventure.

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Posted in bolivia Submitted by Meg on Wed, 2007-12-19 17:36

Welcome home!

Submitted by Kim (not verified) on Fri, 2007-12-21 00:30.

It's been so cool following your blog for the past year and reading all about your adventures in Bolivia and S. America.

Tengo envidia que puedas vivir en un país hispanohablante y que tengas la oportunidad de trabajar en español. Pero estoy muy orgullosa de ti también. Has hecho algo muy importante y has mejorado la vida de mucha gente. Quizás podríamos platicar en español cuando regreses a Canadá. Nosotras dos necesitamos mantener el idioma :)

Can't wait to see you at your party on Saturday!

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ultimate frisbee? whats

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 2007-12-19 19:24.

ultimate frisbee? whats that? I've heard of Ultimate...but not Ultimate Frisbee?

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Have fun...

Submitted by TheAdmin on Wed, 2007-12-19 18:01.

... at your going away party tonight my love! I am certainly looking forward to having you home soon. I know I'll have to deal with your wanderlust for the foreseeable future, and I look forward to it. :D

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