Our family gap year begins now. As I write this, we are already on our way. We quit our jobs, pulled the kids out of school, rented out our lovely house, and we are leaving behind all our worldly belongings in a couple of 5x7x8 foot containers. It’s all a meticulously planned midlife crisis, and there is no looking back now. It’s time to bounce!
Boing, Boing, Boing!
Getting to Bolivia is not an easy thing to do, especially the area where we’re going. We have 5 flights:
- San Diego to Dallas
- Dallas to Miami
- Miami to La Paz, Bolivia
- La Paz to Santa Cruz, Bolivia
- and Santa Cruz to Tarija, Bolivia.
All this will take us over 2 days to complete, including an overnight layover in Dallas, and an eight hour layover in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. But, we got our flights for free, so we can’t complain too much about it.
A Spending Spree
Once we get there, we have a budget of $2,000 to get set up. That mostly means clothes, furniture for our house, and probably some additional kitchen utensils. We already have a house with most of the basics, but living there for a whole year will definitely require more.
We need another bed for the kids, some sort of couch, a couple of small tables, and lots of clothes. We’re hardly bringing any clothes with us at all – our plan is to buy them when we get there. Bolivia has fabulous used clothes markets, and we’re going to take full advantage! Our $2,000 budget will go a long way.
Bolivia is in the southern hemisphere, so it will be winter when we arrive. The good news is that the seasons are not all that pronounced. Even in the winter, the days can be warm, but the nights are usually below freezing.
The bad news is that houses don’t have central heating. So, if it’s below freezing at night, you do need to bundle up. Yeah, we’ll be spending a chunk on blankets and coats too.
In case you hadn’t heard, most of Bolivia is high-altitude. We’ll need the first couple of weeks to get acclimatized. The city where we will fly into, Tarija, is considered lower altitude, at only 6,000 feet – that’s a bit higher than Denver. Our house is in Villa Abecia, a small village about 2 hours outside of Tarija, at about 7,500 feet.
After spending our first week or 10 days getting set up in Tarija and Villa Abecia, our bodies will be ready to head to the capital city, La Paz. It’s a city of over a million people, that sits at about 12,500 feet. That kind of altitude is the real deal – not for the faint of heart.
A Change of Pace
The weather and altitude are one thing. But the bigger challenge will be the change in culture, and the change of pace. We ain’t gonna be in Kansas no more, as they say. In Bolivia, everything takes longer. The pace of life is slower, and things don’t always happen as expected or as desired. For someone coming from the go-go life of suburban California, this can prove very frustrating. It’s going to take some patience.
A New Horizon
The year ahead is going to be a turning point for everyone in our family. It’s a chance for my wife to spend precious time with her relatives after so many years apart. To reflect on her childhood after 15 years of adopting a new home, culture, and language in the United States.
It’s a chance for my kids to learn a new language and a new culture – a new way of doing things. To be free in a small town, and at the same time to learn about the world. They will challenge themselves in ways they didn’t expect.
For me, this will be my first time without a full-time job in about 20 years. This will be a chance for me to spend much more time with my warm-blooded wife and kids, instead of the cold dim blue light of a computer screen. This will be my chance to reflect on what I value and to figure out what’s next. I hope I can do this.
It’s a new horizon, and we’re not quite sure what’s beyond it.
OK that’s it, time to bounce!