Bolivia – Karla Mendoza (2014)

• Be extremely cautious when crossing streets. Make eye contact with drivers and walk quickly across streets. Many streets in Bolivia don’t have pedestrian signals for walking and stopping. Car drivers are impatient and will advance as soon as the street light turns green, whether or not you’ve finished crossing the street.
• Only drink bottled, bagged, or boiled water. Bolivia is a land-locked country, so access to fresh water is impossible. Purification is not up to standards with developed countries, so faucet water contains amoebas, among other bacteria and impurities that will make you sick. Many Bolivians develop strong stomachs that can digest this water without getting sick, so they might use it to wash vegetables or make fruit juices to sell on the street, which leads to my next tip.
• Avoid eating street foods. Just play it safe. You don’t know the quality of ingredients used to make the empanadas or salteñas on the street. Odds are you’ll find a tastier, healthier meal in an established restaurant nearby for just a couple more Bolivianos.
• Avoid unlicensed taxis and be careful when using public transportation, “trufis.” Unlicensed taxis are usually a bit cheaper, but many drivers will take advantage of you if you look foreign. They are also less reliable because if they don’t work for a company, they can’t contact headquarters via radio for directions to any streets they don’t know, so they’ll just guess and/or expect you to guide them. Trufis are difficult because there’s no limit on how many people can enter the vehicle. There are also no stops on the routes the trufis take, so you have to call out to the drivers to stop, and that can be difficult if you don’t know the city.
• Be prepared for extreme weather. During my time in Bolivia, I experienced the temperature rise up to around 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and drop to 14 degrees Fahrenheit at night. It was usually very dry, though it did rain for three days in a row, randomly.

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