As part of a larger trip, I spent the better part of two months in the fall of 2014 travelling through one of the most incredible countries I have ever been to, Bolivia.
I began with a week exploring the winding, hilly, and extremely high up streets of La Paz, acclimating to the altitude and getting to know the culture and food.
I had previously arranged to work in a new hostel in Cochabamba in exchange for free accommodation, so after my week in La Paz I took the 8 hour bus ride to the “city of eternal spring.” I was with my friend Stephen at this time, and we worked in Miski Wasi Hostal, taking care of general reception, along with other small tasks. We also, maybe too enthusiastically, enjoyed the delicious and plentiful foods in the culinary capital of Bolivia.
Our stay in Cochabamba happened to coincide with Thanksgiving, and Stephen and I cooked dinner for 15 people, mostly Bolivians who had never celebrated this holiday before. 9 hours of cooking culminated in an epic feast, and everyone left a few pounds heavier..it was very successful!
Highlights and Thoughts
The lifestyle during my time in Cochabamba was very laid back, as the job required very little of us, and we spent a lot of our time reading and playing guitar. In our free time, we explored the city. The city itself was very unique in comparison to the other Andean cities I’ve visited. It was always warm and sunny while I was there, making it easy to explore and take advantage of the many parks and town squares. The city has the largest open air market in South America, La Cancha; there are also many surrounding national parks to explore and mountains to climb, including Cerro Tunari. As of now, the city is not a large tourist attraction, meaning that it is very easy to get a local experience by going out and being open. Stephen and I found it difficult to go to some of the farther away sites and not just eat our way around the city, but we were happy we made the effort to see all the highlights.
Cochabamba is an 8 hour bus ride from La Paz, Bolivia. It also has an airport that has flights to and from La Pazif you want to avoid sitting in a bus for that long.
I lived in Hostal Miski Wasi, a very comfortable hostel that isn’t even 1 year old. It is volunteer and owner run, and is in a very comfortable building with all of the amenities. It is also only 1 block away from the center of town, making it a great launching point to explore the rest of the city.
I worked in Miski Wasi Hostel, helping them with mostly general reception. I also helped in rearranging the large furniture and with brainstorming ideas to improve upon the hostel.I found the volunteer opportunity at Miski Wasi through Workaway.org. I can’t recommend this website enough for travelling through South America on a budget. It has hundreds of live/work opportunities in many countries.
I would also advise attempting to climb some of the surrounding mountains without a guide. There are some excellent day climbs that are accessible via local transit and can be done with just a map.
Miski Wasi is very affordable to stay in, and seems to be fast becoming the top hostel in Cochabamba. I would most definitely stay there again.
It was an excellent experience working in Miski Wasi; the owners were friendly, flexible, and love to promote their city! They are happy to show you the best places in town and try to help you get the most out of your time in Cochabamba.