Vicky, a 2007 Practicum graduate, has traveled to Bolivia to intern with us in Ixiamas. She e-mailed this to us last week after experiencing problems with the Internet in Ixiamas that wouldn’t let her post to the blog. Below is the e-mail she sent to let us know she finally arrived. Keep checking back for her updates!

The Longest Journey

The trip began on a Wednesday morning. At 2 a.m., my friend and her husband drove me to Manila airport. Then, my plane flew at 6:30 a.m. It stopped in Nagoya, Japan, and then Detroit. After 17 hours, we flew to Miami, but in the middle of the flight, we had to make an emergency landing in Atlanta. One passenger, a tourist from Germany, had a seizure. In Atlanta airport, I thought, I was close to SIFAT, I wish I could call, but the airplane crew did not let us go out of the plane.

We were stuck in the plane waiting for the airport official to give us clearance to take off as the tourist was taken to the medical facility. Then, after one hour we got clearance and flew to Miami. When I arrived Miami airport, I looked at my watch and even with the time difference from the Philippines, I had been traveling for 24 hours already!

I waited another 5 hours for my next flight- to La Paz. It was an overnight flight, so I arrived in La Paz the following morning. After almost 30 hours of flying and in several airports, I thought I finally arrived in Bolivia. But then, that was only halfway of the trip.

It was so good to see familiar faces; Addison and Jarred just finished their 3–month internship in Ixiamas! I spent the day with them. They flew back to the US the following day. When I arrived in La Paz, with the altitude of 13,000 feet and seeing the beautiful mountains with snow, I kept saying “this looks like Tibet”. The Aymaran and Quechuan people reminded me of Tibetans- their faces, their clothing, the shops on the streets selling accessories from their colorful fabrics. Even the tourists and backpackers from Europe reminded me of scenarios in Tibet.

On the second and third day, I felt horrible from the altitude, tiredness and jetlag altogether. Yet I had to move around – like check about my visa and send my stuff to the bus station. Thank God for some guys who helped me, Bully and Hubert.

After going out to the town, I went back to my hotel and crashed. On my second evening, tired from walking around the city, I slept and woke up with a horrible headache and nausea. After throwing up, I remembered that when I was in Tibet, whenever we have teams coming who get sick and throw up, we put them in the hospital for fear of getting edema. I started to think, should I call somebody? Lord, will I just die here?

Then, I remember the words of the Lord before I left home. I reached for my Bible, and pulled out the words in Jeremiah 45:5 “…your life I will give unto you for a prize in all places where you go”. I prayed and was reminded that word to the Lord. I got up and went out down to the street and went to the coffee shop. I had some hot cocoa and felt better.

On the third day, I was excited that I will be going down to the lower land. Hubert of SIFAT Bolivia was coming to help me to send my luggage to the bus station to get to Ixiamas. While waiting for him at the hotel front desk, the hotel people kept asking me if I were checking out. When I told them not yet, that I’m sending my suitcase to the bus station, they looked at me as if I was insane, and they all said the same thing, “we don’t do that, your luggage will be lost”. I told them, “but Rachel told me”. Anyway, Hubert came and we got the suitcase sorted out. I prayed though for it to get to Ixiamas safe and well. Then, I went to the airport for my local flight to Rurrenabuque.

I had a choice between doing a 24-hour bus trip through the mountains and taking the one hour rough plane ride down to Rurre and a 4-hour bus (as Rachel told me). Maybe I could take the adventure of doing the 24-hour bus ride through the mountains, but I was okay to skip the famous “death road” ride experience for this time. (After the 30-hour plane ride, hmm, maybe next time).

The plane landed in a tiny airport in the middle of the forest. I was so glad to see Rachel. I thought I am finally here. Hmm, not yet. Since my plane from La Paz was delayed, it was late to catch the bus to Ixiamas. Rachel decided to spend the night in Rurre and catch the bus the following morning. It was a great idea, truly. We took a boat and crossed the river for few minutes to get to San Buena to get a bus. We finally rode the bus from San Buena. After waiting (for long time) the mini bus loaded all the passengers’ cargo and stuff on the roof. We rode through the rough dirt road. After two hours of going through the rugged and dirt road in the middle of the forest, I almost asked Rachel, “will we ever pass through a paved road?” I was waiting, and waiting for some paved or straight road to come. It never did, I regretted that I did not count the creeks, rivers and streams we crossed (without bridges, okay) the minibus went through the water. I also forgot to count the many times the bus broke down in the middle of the water. I had to make my long story short, after almost 6 hours, I finally arrived at the Internado. I was so happy that after 5 days, I finally arrived, as in finally, to my real destination! I was too excited to feel the tiredness. especially when I saw the 40 kids who welcomed me with excitement and smiles on their faces.

I thank the Lord for His traveling mercy and for those who prayed for me throughout the trip. I know the journey of my life in the Internado in Ixiamas has only just begun.