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Crossing the river before summiting 17,500 Pico Austria. Photo by Ella Williams (2016 Fall Semester Photo Contest, 2nd Place), South America Semester.

15 things I learned first-hand about living in El Alto, Bolivia

1. When you ask someone on the street for directions they’ll want to help you out so badly that they will show you most or all of the way there but if they don’t know of the place you need directions to they’ll ramble on for a few minutes trying to direct you to some other place
2. There are so many types of bread. All of them are good
3. If you need to change 100 bolivianos into smaller bills no one will help you unless you buy something
4. When you get your laundry done they will return your clothes with small clusters of thread sewed tightly to each piece of clothing and your socks will be sewed together.
5. Most of the dogs that seemingly live in the streets go home at night to owners who love and feed them but won’t clean them
6. Internet cafes consist solely of Bolivian teenage boys playing league of legends or watching YouTube and also various dragons students crying on Skype
7. No one will accept your money if it is torn or extremely wrinkled. You’ll have to fold it up and hope that the vender doesn’t unfold the bill before you leave.
8. The metal handle you use to turn on the electric showers in the houses of the people who live here may or may not slightly shock you
9. The only place to buy stamps is in the airport but postcards with llamas on them are bountiful
10. There are no bugs
11. Papaya flavored Fanta exists
12. Soup is served before every meal but it never fails to be delicious
13. Despacito is just as popular here as it is everywhere else
14. If you want to use a public restroom you will either have to pay to use it or pay for your toilet paper before you go inside
15. Toilets don’t flush between 10pm and 5am
-Ella Silverstein