About South America Living
by Andy Alexander, Editor/Publisher
My love affair with South America began nearly 40 years ago because I wanted to get out of a History test.
We were just about to put pen to paper when someone from the Principal’s office came in and said a Rotary Club representative was there to tell us about spending a year abroad.
A year abroad? It sounded like the distant future. But getting out of a test, right then, right there? Well, that had an immediate payoff! And, since I really hadn’t studied for the test, you can guess what I did.
Fast forward: a series of local interviews, more state wide interviews, then I got the call that I had been selected as a Rotary International Youth Exchange participant and, “How would I like to spend a year in Bolivia?”
Bolivia? Where’s that? “Somewhere in South America,” I was told. I looked it up in the Encyclopedia (remember, this is WAY before Google) and saw a photo of an Indigenous woman weaving something colorful by the side of Lake Titicaca – the highest navigable lake in the world.
Bolivia… it sounded exotic and far away (both of which appealed). I said yes. And 10 days later, not knowing a word of Spanish, I was on a plane headed for La Paz.
That was the year that changed my life.
I LOVED Bolivia. Made life long friends there. Learned the language. Fell in love with the culture. The people. The food. And a boy (there’s always a boy isn’t there?).
I was reluctant to return to the US. And did so sadly. I became a Latin American Studies and Political Science major at Mount Holyoke College, and took my Junior year abroad in Spain so I could learn more about the origins of Latin America.
I fully intended to get a job with the CIA, where I imagined myself as Tania the guerilla warrior, back in South America for my field assignment.
Alas, the CIA starting salary? Sucks.
Distracted by the bright lights of the big city, I had a successful 30+ year career in advertising and marketing. But I never forgot Bolivia.
So, a few years ago, thanks to the magic of Facebook and Google, I reached out to my Bolivian friends. They hadn’t forgotten me either.
At that time there weren’t a lot of blonde 17 year old Gringas running around loose in La Paz. Plus, I’m a memorable kind-of-a-gal.
Last year, I returned to Bolivia. This time with my then 18 year old twin daughters in tow. Talk about full circle! And guess what? THEY love Bolivia just as much as I do.
Together with other friends – both old and new – we traversed Bolivia in 4×4’s. We crossed the Amazon on suspension bridges, pontoons, and sometimes just drove across it.
We camped in tents (my first time). We slept in a monastery. We got bitten by bugs. We saw lots of very wild, wildlife and visited places so barren that nothing can grow or thrive there.
We sweltered in 100 plus degree jungles, and froze our asses off in the single digits of the Altiplano. We bathed in thermal baths and went days without bathing at all.
We climbed to over 15,000 feet above sea level and descended to just 200 feet above. We ate llama in Uyuni and mute dog in the Altiplano. Drank tangerine brandy at a convent and coffee in the jungles of Madidi.
And we were happy. And fulfilled. And satisfied.
When I saw that this website was available for sale, I had to jump on the opportunity. The opportunity to share what I love about South America: The people. The culture. The food. The travel. The language.
So why don’t you hop on board with me. And together we shall: Travel. Dine. And live like the locals.
Email: editor (@) southamericaliving.com
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Note: Previous owner Molly McHugh can be contacted at molly (@) mollymchugh.com. Her new website is: www.mollymchugh.com.