Monday, August 31, 2009

Our last few days have been a mix of complete laziness and sightseeing! Saturday morning was spent at a local park, people watching and reading. An interesting parade caught our attention on a side street – included a small marching band and several cars completely decorated with stuffed animals and kitchen items (decorated so much that the driver had to stick his head out the window to see where he was driving). Still haven’t figured out what it was for!

We are still adjusting to the way things work around here. At about 1pm we decided to leave the park and find a place for lunch – very few things were open! Most retail vendors and restaurants shut down between noon and 2-3pm. We finally managed to find something open that was recommended, and had a delicious lunch (included 3 beers, two entrees plus soup for under $10). While I have so far been sticking to the “gringo” side of the menu, Pete has been adventurously trying some local dishes – the traditional vegetable soup he ordered at this restaurant came with french fries in it! So far neither of us have been disappointed (or sick) from any of our meals.

Finally got in touch with Mom after three tries at different phones (hi Mom!) Was pretty expensive considering how cheap everything else is, but once we get the Skype thing all figured out (and find a reliable place to do it from), it should be much easier! There are internet cafĂ©’s everywhere, but we have yet to find one with a really fast connection. Could be why they only charge about $0.30 for 1 hour of use.

We decided that we are going to live at our current guesthouse (called Dolce Vita) for the duration of our stay in Sucre, although we did ask to be moved to another room as our first one was right close to the street and front door, allowing for a lot of noise. We were able to move all our things on Saturday to a new room at the back, but now we have discovered a whole new annoyance to keep us up at night...damn roosters! Who keeps roosters in the middle of a city, anyways?? Sunday morning I checked my watch at the first crowing and sure enough – it was 4:20am. We’ve decided that this is livable though, if we keep our bathroom window and door shut it isn’t too loud. We’ll see how long it lasts!

So, thanks to our crowing alarm clock, we slept off and on Sunday morning and didn’t get out of bed until almost 10am. We decided to skip breakfast and go for a quick hike to one edge of the city that has a lookout over the city as well as a great restaurant at the top of the hill. It wasn’t a long hike, but it was a steep one, and I was pretty winded by the time we got to the top. But boy, was it worth it! A panoramic view of the entire city, complete with a museum and restored convent that we will have to come back to tour another day as it was closed. The restaurant had lounge chairs on the patio where we just sat and read our books for 2 hours after lunch, enjoying the views of the city and the beautiful weather (The weather forecast for the next 3 months: sunny and 25 degrees. Everyday. I’m not kidding. This is supposed to be one of the most temperate climates in the world.) Of course, we also enjoyed the usual eclectic mix of music: from classical piano to the Beatles to Chumbawumba!

Sunday night we chanced a little pizza joint and had the best pizza we´ve had in a long time! So much for my instant weight loss plan due to my believing the food wouldn´t be very good!

We had our first Spanish lesson this morning - coming away with about 5 pages of notes and a lot of studying to do. I accidently hit on our teacher (Edwin) - asking him to ¨go away¨with me...oops! Innocent mistake, I promise.

Whenever we get through one part of the lesson, Edwin makes us say ¨pan comido¨- which means ¨piece of cake¨. Now I want cake.

We also made our first friend! Until today, we´ve barely come across anyone who speaks English, and have not seen one other backpack marked with the maple leaf! Tonight we are going to see a locally made movie with our new friend Dave from South Africa (we also met a couple of girls from Germany but didn´t get their names).

So, as you can see, we’re still pretty excited about being here and settling in well. I often have to remind myself that yes, we are in the middle of Bolivia, South America! Indefinitely! Still kind of unbelievable. We’re enjoying incredible weather, living like kings on less than $50 a day, and just find this city to be so relaxing and comfortable.

Except for that damn rooster!

I need cake.

P.S. I FINALLY was able to get some pictures up (it was painful)! Paste this link into your browser to see them!

Friday, August 28, 2009


From Cowtown to Sugarland!

We did manage to get a few hours of sleep our last night in Calgary! Not sure how – I still think it hadn’t entirely sunk in for me yet. At least not until the alarm went off. Then all of a sudden I was consumed by thoughts of my “lasts” – that was our last sleep in a queen sized bed, last really nice hot shower, last visit to Timmy Ho’s at the airport!

After an uneventful 12 hours of flying and a quick stop over in Toronto, we arrived in our first foreign city – Lima, Peru. I wish we had more to report on Lima and had some time to explore, but we got to our airport hostel at 11pm and were out before 10am to catch our next flight. Just enough time to sample some Peruvian beer and send the all important emails back home to let everyone know we at least made it this far.

This was our first hostel experience, so we had nothing to compare it to! The owner speaks very good English and was extremely hospitable. The whole place is painted in garish yellows, oranges and reds. It overall seemed decently clean, except for the slight smell of pee in our room! The bed felt like sleeping on a piece of plywood, and my tired paranoia caused me to feel like I was being bitten by bugs all night (which I was not). I suppose that is what you get when you pay $30 a night in a highly touristy place.

Onto La Paz the next morning, via Santa Cruz (which, if you look at a map, means a lot of backtracking!) As soon as we got off the plane in La Paz, we felt ourselves short of breath from the effects of the altitude (La Paz is at ~12,000ft above sea level, or more than three times as high as Calgary). Customs was thankfully a breeze – all Pete had to say was “noventa dias?” and we had our visas extended for 90 days, which should hopefully be enough time to explore the country and learn Spanish.

The ride from the airport to downtown La Paz was incredible! One quick turn around a corner to descend into the city and a blanket of red clay buildings opened up throughout the valley and up the mountains on either side. Our taxi driver kindly pulled over so that we could take some pictures!

Then into downtown La Paz – where street vendors lined the narrow cobble stone streets, and our taxi driver weaved his way around the many vehicles and people crossing, constantly honking his horn to let people know he was coming (Pete LOVES that and is going to try to bring that custom back to North America). The poverty of the city is very obvious – yet it is so beautiful! No Starbucks, no Pizza Hut, nothing North American. This is what we came here for!

One other thing about La Paz – for a city of 3 million, it is awfully QUIET! Like, unbelievably so. Almost eerie.

Our second hostel was much nicer then the first – more brightly lit with big windows and the bed was much more comfortable. We had to walk up four flights of stairs to get to our room and were completely out of breath when we got there (damn altitude)! Although, I wish that was all the trouble the altitude caused for us…

I got sick to my stomach. And then again. And then one more, time – just for good measure! I felt like a big bag of poop, complete with an intense headache. Pete sat with his head in his hands, nervous that we would be returning home sooner then we thought! I crawled into bed at 6pm, and save for a few nauseating trips to the bathroom, I slept most of the night. We were both praying that it was just altitude sickness and not something worse. Thankfully, by morning, I was feeling better. We ate the breakfast that was provided and were back at the airport again for our final leg to Sucre.

Pete still thinks we’re high rollers, apparently. While I was agonizing in bed trying to sleep, he was downstairs on the internet booking our final flight. Not being able to navigate his way around the Spanish website very well – he accidentally booked us in first class for the 45 minute trip! Thankfully we figured out that it only cost us ~$50 more, but that still works out to one expensive glass of fresh squeezed pear juice and a newspaper we can’t read yet!

And now here we are in our final destination, Sucre! All nausea and headaches have passed, as Sucre is only at about 7,000 ft above sea level. We got here at 11am so weren’t able to check into our room right away, but the hotel owner sat with us instead and explained many of the sights and things to see in the area (Jackie is from Switzerland and speaks very good English, thankfully!) We set off exploring the downtown for the afternoon, stopped for some lunch and local brew (only about $1 a piece!), and then enrolled in our Spanish classes.

Monday morning at 8:30am we start with 4 hours of instruction every weekday. They made us take a Spanish test to first see what level we should start at. We both laughed our way through the test because I think of about the 100 questions, I probably got 2 right, Pete probably got 20 (nerd). Both Jackie and the Spanish instructors believe that in 2-3 weeks with constant instruction we should have a very good understanding of the language, and in 2-3 months, we’ll be fully fluent. Perfect!

We are unsure as to our accommodations for the long term as of yet. The place we are in now is quite nice and spacious, and comes with a shared kitchenette. Jackie will also make us a very good deal if we stay beyond 2 weeks (would be 100 Bolivianos per night, or ~$18 CAD). The option to stay with a family is a little more expensive (another $10 per night), so we might just stick with where we are if these first few days work out okay.

Our room in Sucre

Overall, despite the nauseatingly rough start, we are VERY excited!! This city is exactly what we were looking for, a very relaxed vibe and is considerably safer then a lot of other options we could have chosen. The only downside we can see so far is that WiFi is not really an option, anywhere! There is a place just down the street that does have Skype set up so we can arrange for calls or even just get on the computer when we need to. Our school also has internet access so if we are there everyday, we should be able to stay in pretty good contact!

Until next time…much love to you all!! xoxo

P.S. We are trying to upload pictures to Facebook for all to see, but it is painfully slow. Will do it as soon as we have a faster internet connection, and then post the link here!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hasta luego!

And, we're off! All of our belongings are securely packed into the 130 litres of our backpacks and at 7am tomorrow we begin our travels by heading to Toronto and then catching another flight to Lima, Peru. Two more travel days will see us to our final destination of Sucre, Bolivia. While we are not looking forward to the ~20 hours of flying time, we are very excited about the adventures ahead!

We are prepared!
Thanks Auntie June, RN! We hope to never have to use these masks, but have found a safe place for them in our backpacks - right next to the Malaria pills and the Tide-To-Go pen. One can never be too careful!

Thank you!

These last couple of weeks have been an emotional roller coaster between our excitement for the journey and the sadness of saying goodbye to all of our family and friends. Pete and I are both glad to have spent the last 7 weeks traveling across the province (and to Newfoundland!) to spend some QT with you all.

Special shout-outs to: Ob, Dad, Phil & Darby, Karen & Tom, John & Kissha, Mom, Margo & Travis, Teri & Chris, Leah & Chuck and Sharon & Daren! We owe you all a HUGE thanks for housing our homeless a$$es!


It has been months and months of planning, researching, packing, purging, selling, giving, moving, driving, worrying, waiting, crying, laughing, etc. that have finally brought us to this time where we can realize our dreams!

We are excited, nervous, tired, ecstatic, determined, optimistic, scared, thankful, giddy, etc....

I hope we don't sleep through the alarm tomorrow...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The betting pool

Pete and I were humbled and honored by the 60 people that showed up to say farewell to us last Friday! We had a blast, despite being forced into utter embarrassment by singing for the crowd (damn you, McShannock sisters!!) Thanks to all that made the effort to be there, it was awesome to catch up with you before we leave on our travels.

And thanks to Chuck and Leah for providing another form of entertainment in the form of our official betting pool!

While it started out as an innocent opportunity for people to guess when we would return, by the end of the night (and many drinks later), it turned into a storyline of what some people thought might happen to us on the road.

Below is a cleaned up, family friendly version (trust me, some serious editing was necessary)!

Thanks again for the fun memories!!
Dalena y Pedro

Monday, August 10, 2009

Frequently Asked Questions!

Since Pete and I announced our decision to travel, we have been bombarded with many similar questions, mostly about if we can pinpoint exactly when we lost our minds, or just asking what our plans are in general. On the odd occasion, bored with hearing ourselves say the same lines and tell the same story over and over, we have made up some fun fables just for the sheer entertainment of gauging the listeners reaction. So, if you've heard us say that we threw a dart at a map or are choosing to follow in the footsteps of the revolutionary Che - well, that's not entirely true. At least not yet.

We're here to set the record straight on how/why we are doing what we are doing. Here are some truthful answers to those questions we hear most often.

Q. When exactly did you lose your effin' minds?

A. Roughly December 27th, 2007. After a tragically difficult year in both of our lives, and in a 3 hour road trip from Medicine Hat to Okotoks, our decision was made. While we had talked many times before about selling everything and hitting the open road, we had finally both run out of reasons not to do it. We both learned, the hard way, that life is too short to not be doing exactly what we dream of doing. Thus, almost two years, we are on our way!

Q. What are your plans and when are you leaving?

A. We leave from Calgary on Wednesday, August 26th. Our first day will be spent flying to Lima, Peru. The following two days we will be taking smaller flights to La Paz, Bolivia, and then finally to Sucre, Bolivia.

We plan on requesting a 3 month stay in Bolivia, as we expect that it will take us that long (if not longer) to attend school and become comfortable in our Spanish.

We do not know yet where we are living, or which school we will be attending. We have done plenty of research and have some good ideas, but don't want to commit to anything until we are actually there and can check everything out in person.

After that, we have NO plans! We know that there are many places in South America that we want to see, plus we want to do some volunteer work along the way - we expect that our path will become clearer once we get there.

Q. Why in the eff are you starting in Bolivia?

A. Pete and I have always wanted to learn Spanish, and thus knew we wanted to begin our travels in South America. After doing a lot of research on potential starting points, we landed on Sucre, Bolivia for many reasons.

Sucre is a small city (pop: ~200,000) in central Bolivia. It is fairly remote and is less of a "tourist trap", thus it will be inexpensive to live! It has also become known as a hot spot for travelers who want to learn Spanish - we are excited to meet people on the road who are just like us.

Being a small city, it is easy to get around which we believe will make it quite a bit easier to get acclimatized and not be overwhelmed. From the many things we have read or people we have talked to about travel there, we have learned that the Bolivian people are the most generous and courteous that we may ever meet. It will be exciting to get to know the real culture of their largely indigenous population.

Sucre is also a UNESCO world heritage site and from all pictures looks beautiful! Check this out: (

Q. What has been the reaction from your families?

A. Our families are torn between being incredibly excited for our journey and being bummed at the expectantly long absence. However, they have overall been very supportive. We hope this undying support continues if we come home penniless and need to live in their basements.

Q. What size of shoes does Pete wear?

A. That's an awfully odd frequently asked question. You people are weird. He wears a size 10.

Q. When are you effin' coming home?

A. We have no plans on returning yet, but it has been terribly interesting to hear everyone's projections on when they believe we will come to our senses and return to Canada. We have heard everything from 6 months to 5 years - perhaps we should consider setting up a betting pool!

Truthfully, we may never return. Or, we may return in 3 months. There is no way of us knowing how we will feel about that until we get down there. And until I see if I can overcome my fears of big bugs, bats and rats.

This concludes the question and answer portion of this blog - for now!

Hasta Proto,
Dalena y Pedro.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

22 more sleeps and we are on a one way, south bound plane! Figured it was time to get this blog started and break the news that YES, there are some basic ground rules if you wish to read the contents of this blog!

1. This site may contain content that is offensive to some readers. Reader discretion is advised.
2. We will be posting pictures on here as we go! Absolutely no mocking of my hair, lack of make-up, or the fact that you will only see me wearing 3 different shirts is allowed. Just be grateful you're not standing next to me when I am wearing said smelly shirts.
3. Realize that as a price for being able to read this blog (and for being our friends, really), you may be called upon at some point to donate money to the "Dalene and Peter Rescue Fund". This Fund will be in place to pay off the kidnappers that we may happen upon at some point.
4. Check out the blog 2, 3...even 4 times daily. It is unlikely that we will update it that often, but if we get enough hits to this page, perhaps we can start generating some advertising revenue that will negate the need for the Fund as mentioned above (ha)!
5. We hope that this will be a two-way communication forum...please provide comments and send lotsa love! We expect updates from everyone on happenings in their lives, and want to hear from you to help placate the homesickness that I am sure will hit us at some point.

We are taking a laptop with us and hope to be able to stay in contact with everyone as much as possible. If you want to contact us individually, our email addys are: or

We look forward to taking this journey with you! Stay tuned...

Dalena y Pedro
(our Latin American monikers)