Highlands International School
HIS Faculty Orientation Manual
Welcome to HIS!
We want to provide the best possible help in your preparation for your time in Bolivia. Our intention is
that this orientation manual will help you with your preparations in moving to Bolivia. There are different
sections intended to be of specific help in different stages of your preparations. Because of this, some of
it may seem a little repetitive. We hope you will have time to peruse all the information before you come,
but some will make more sense after you arrive. The first section or two should answer some general
questions you may have about La Paz and living here. The third section should help you know what to
pack, and the fourth section is intended to be more useful once you are actually here: things you should
know and do. If you have more questions or think of something we have not covered please contact us
and let us know!
God bless you in your service to the Lord!
The HIS Faculty
Table of Contents
1. General information about Bolivia
2. General information about La Paz and what could be helpful to know before you move here
3. What to bring
4. Living in La Paz and what could be helpful once you arrive
Bolivian Departments – 9 in All
Bolivia time is the same as U.S. Eastern standard time.
However, Bolivia does not observe U.S. daylight savings
time, so when the U.S. ―falls back‖ an hour, for example,
Bolivia stays the same, being an hour ahead of Eastern
Lowlands have a Tropical Climate: Pando, Beni, Standard Time.
Midlands have a Temperate Climate:
Cochabamba, Chuquisaca, Tarija Social Unrest
Highlands have a Colder, Drier Climate: La Paz, In cases of social unrest, it is best to stay clear of El Alto
Oruro, Potosi and La Paz city center. During these times, people can
become more hostile and take more liberties. Avoid
protest marches. It is common for protestors to carry
General Information sticks and occasionally throw stones. It is also common
for the police, in reaction to protestors, to use tear gas in
Information the streets, which can be unpleasant, causing shortness
Information found at www.boliviaweb.com has helpful of breath, eye pain, weeping, and poor vision. In the
information about history, climate, and main city valley, or Southern Zone/la Zona Sur these occurrences
attractions. are less common. A full review of the procedures
regarding H.I.S. and its faculty and staff related to
social unrest will be covered in detail during the
H.I.S. teacher orientation prior to the first week of
Safety and Security HIS is located in Mallasilla, a small community near La
Theft in Bolivia is common. You should keep your Zona Sur. It is about thirty minutes away from El Centro,
valuables well hidden, preferably on your person and not or La Paz’s city center. The school is about 10 minutes
in a shoulder bag. Avoid wearing valuable jewelry in (about 20 minutes by public transportation) from most of
some areas of the city, especially El Alto. If you use a la Zona Sur. The school’s location was formerly a brick-
backpack, it is advisable to keep the small front pocket making factory and it boasts a beautiful view of the
empty, as thieves are incredibly adept here. Foreigners highland mountains.
are often easy targets. Zippered inner pockets in
clothing are nice. It is common for thieves to slash or cut
straps of purses and backpacks or even pockets.
Simply be aware at all times. When you walk on the
streets, be confident and purposeful and keep your eyes
open to anyone or group of people who may be following
you. Also, for suitcases, locks that are approved by TSA
can be purchased to help maximize safety of luggage
2. General Info and Preparing to
Live in La Paz
LAB (Lloyd Aereo Bolviano) is the national airline. This
Highlands Location airline serves the Miami - La Paz route at a lower cost
La Paz is large and divided into three major sections: El than other airlines. LAB is known for safe, low-cost, but
Alto, which is actually a separate city and is the area informal service (delays, changes). LAB also has
with the highest altitude (where the airport is located); El frequent flyer miles that can be accrued.
Centro, which is the seat of government and the center Note** recently LAB has been having financial
of commerce; and La Zona Sur, which is a suburb in the difficulties. Future operations are questionable (i.e., they
valley and has the warmest climate and lowest altitude. may be bought out or taken over by the government).
El Centro is the northern part of the city and is between You may want to check into this before choosing them to
El Alto and La Zona Sur. fly to Bolivia.
American Airlines also serves the Miami-La Paz route. Churches
Being a U.S.-based airline, American has much greater There is only one church, the La
flexibility once in the U.S. Its service is known for safety, Paz Community Church, which is
reliability, timeliness, and higher costs. But then again, completely in English. There are
there are those wonderful AA frequent flyer miles that a few churches with English-
can pile up so nicely. speaking pastors, but services
are in Spanish. There are also
Airport, La Paz International Airport (LPB) many, many other churches to
If you arrive at the La Paz Airport and want to call choose from with services in
someone for aid, find a telephone and Internet business Spanish, which is a great way to
center. You can enter a phone booth and call the learn more of the language.
school’s number by dialing 274-5113. Once the call has
been made, pay the representative in either Bolivianos
or U.S. dollars (about $0.15 per minute, or 1Bs. for a Climate and Clothing
short call). **Note: calling from a cell phone to a land Style of dress:
line requires an additional ―2‖ before the number. Bolivians tend to dress more formally than Americans,
but more casual clothing will be fine as far as being
socially acceptable. At school, dress that would be
typical for teachers and staff is professional/casual. The
Barber Shops and Beauty Shops people in La Paz usually dress fairly conservatively and
These are available everywhere. A in darker colors.
haircut can run about anywhere from
5 to15 Bs. for men, and an average
haircut for women can range anywhere from 25 to 180 The weather here in La Paz is fairly mild. Summer here
Bs., depending on what type of salon you go to. For (warmer and rainy months) is November/December to
both men and women it is possible to find cheaper (and about March. La Paz rarely sees snow. But the winter
more expensive) but these are averages. months (June through September) are very dry and cold.
Indoor heating, however, is quite uncommon. You will
want to bring clothing for all seasons, as the day can
start out quite cold and then heat up rather quickly. The
best bet is often layering. The temperatures can vary
greatly from the shade to sunlight and depending where
you are in the city. Sweaters and warmer clothes are because you may not find it here, but if you’re not
somewhat easy to find here, but long underwear is not. particular, you can probably get it here. (Except for
Nights are really cold! Flannel pajamas, nice thick contact solution; it is very hard to find and expensive
socks, and flannel sheets can really come in handy. here.) Look for more specifics in the list of what to bring.
Come prepared for travel to other areas of Bolivia and to
other countries in South America. In the tropics, U.S.
summertime clothes are most appropriate, including Communication
bathing suits. In higher regions, count on wearing There are many Internet
warmer and even hiking clothing. Also, be sure to bring cafes with an average
protection from bug bites for warm, tropical climates. cost of 3 to 4 Bs. per
A good sunscreen is crucial here in Bolivia, especially in If you have a laptop with
La Paz, as we are closer to the sun and receive very wireless Internet capabilities some cafés
strong and bright rays that can burn and damage skin in have WiFi (Café Alexander is one of them).
record time. Sunscreen is available here, as are hats
and sunglasses, which can also serve to be very useful. There are many international call centers around the
city. Enter, call, and then pay. Common rates are from
It is also very dry in La Paz, especially in the cold winter .50 Bs. to 1 b. per minute.
months. You may want to bring a favorite lotion from
home, although lotion is available here. As far as You can make local calls from call centers around the
cosmetics and toiletries go, some brands that are also city or from designated persons on the street or small
sold in the States that you can find here are Banana street-side vendors. Calling a land line from a cell phone
Boat, St. Ives, Pantene, L’Oreal and Nivea. Remember requires an extra ―2‖ in front of the number.
we’re not out in ―the bush‖ somewhere. La Paz is a big
city (almost a million) and lots of ―western‖ or ―modern‖ Mobile phone use is very common here. You can bring
things can be bought here to eliminate bulk in your your own with you and configure it for local use, or you
baggage when moving here. You can buy things like can purchase one here for $30+ (US). You can buy pre-
shampoo, conditioner, soap, body wash, lotion, face or post-payment plans with one of three companies:
wash, toothpaste, toothbrushes, razors, shaving cream Entel, Viva, or Telecel. If you bring one with you, make
and deodorant you can get here. But, as a general rule sure that it is TDMA or GSM technology.
when preparing to come, if you have a favorite, bring it
It is also possible to make Based on the responses of the present teachers, some
international calls from your house if rough average costs (monthly) may be as follows:
you will be living on your own
through a Vonage account. Vonage Housing $220
works with DSL internet and you are Food 25
able to make international calls like Local Transport 35
in-country long distance calls Eating out 60
because it goes through your computer. Your computer Personal 30
will need an upload speed of at least 90 KBPS. Local communication 10
Depending on your preferences, you can choose the International Calls 10
minute/cost plan that best suits you. Some options as of Postal Service 10
now are $27/month for unlimited minutes or $15 for 300 Tithing 50
minutes. Check www.vonage.com for the most current
plans and prices. To set up an account could take up to Note: This is a monthly total of 450. Teachers are paid
a few months. in U.S. dollars. There is a 15.5% Bolivian income tax
that is deducted from all paychecks. The base annual
Skype is another option for international calls. This is a salary is $6400.
free Internet call service. Using a microphone with your **Also, this amount does not include the $400-$500 fee
computer, friends can call you for free and you can call for the Visa. See ―Visa‖ section.
them for free. If this is something you plan on using
while you’re here, you should bring a microphone Electricity
headset with you to Bolivia. Electricity here is 220v. (US is 110). Some houses and
apartments have both 220 and 110 outlets, so be
Internet is available at the school, but there is only one careful. Adaptors (called transformers here) can be
computer with Internet capabilities and it is a slow, dial- purchased here inexpensively.
up connection. Don’t count on being able to use it
during the school day. Financial Services
The Bolivian currency
Cost of Living is ―Bolivianos,‖ and
La Paz has a relatively low cost of living compared to the informally referred to
United States. The salary scales were set up to cover as ―B’s‖ by English
the basic living costs of a first-year, certified teacher. speakers (pesos by
Bolivians). The present exchange rate is approximately 8 There are many ATM machines. But unless you have a
Bolivianos for one dollar. You may want to carry a small Bolivian bank account, don’t count on making deposits
calculator with you wherever you go to make sure you here. Many larger businesses accept Visa and/or
don’t get ripped off, as happens sometimes with Mastercard. There are also some money exchange
foreigners. Also, be ready to use almost exact businesses that cash foreign checks at a 1% cost.
change; most places are unwilling to give large amounts
of change (i.e., paying 100 Bs. for a 20 B. transaction). Food
There are many street vendors with different kinds of
HIS employees are paid in dollars. You can cash your yummy food, but it is wise to use good judgment when
check at any bank or money exchange store for dollars eating at any restaurant or food stand.
or Bolivianos. If you want to change dollars for
Bolivianos you may also do that also in a bank, money When you buy fresh fruits and vegetables, you will want
exchange store or from money exchangers on the street, to clean them with a fruit/vegetable sanitizer or diluted
who sometimes have better rates than the banks. Be bleach to help kill off bacteria. Or add a few drops of
sure to ask around for the best rates at the time; it may iodine (available in all pharmacies) to the water and let
mean an extra $10 sometimes. Often, the best deal for produce set about 3 minutes. Where appropriate, you
changing dollars is a ―casa de cambio‖ office, where they can also boil
have the exchange rate posted and they give a receipt. vegetables and fruits.
Money exchangers seated and standing in the street can It is not necessary to
rip you off. If you do choose to use them, be very disinfect fruits that can
careful. Ask the exchange rate in advance, use your be peeled, like
calculator and count your money carefully. **Learn to bananas.
identify counterfeit bills quickly (Bs.). most places are In most cases, it is
fussy about U.S. Dollars and they must be in almost actually cheaper here
perfect shape (i.e. no rips or tears). in Bolivia to eat out
than to buy groceries
Larger transactions (rent, small house appliances, etc.) and cook your meals.
are usually done in US Dollars. You can also pay with
US Dollars at some grocery stores and get Bs. in
Health you may be very tired and not have much of an appetite.
The US Embassy recommends the following Try to take your first few days slow, without much
immunizations for travel or living in Bolivia: yellow fever, walking or physical activity, until you body gets used to
rabies, typhoid, Hep A & B, tetanus/diptheria, and polio. it. Always drink plenty of water; we become
Please contact your physician before leaving the US. dehydrated much faster at higher altitudes. Also try a
Some of these vaccinations require a series of shots and local remedy and part of Bolivian culture, ―mate de coca‖
therefore must be addressed well in advance of coming tea (pronounced as you would in Spanish, not as in your
to Bolivia. Make sure you have you vaccination cards Soul Mate), or head to a pharmacy (practically
readily available. Your health clinic may or may not tell everywhere) and get what is called a Sorojchi Pill, which
you about obtaining Malaria pills, which are not will help with nausea and dizziness. Ask your doctor
necessary for La Paz (because of the altitude there are about the medication you can start taking before your
very few bugs). Malaria medication is generally only arrival to offset the affects of altitude sickness.
prescribed for tropical areas. If you plan on traveling to
tropical areas during your stay in Bolivia, you may want
to bring the medication with you, as it is not available in Wash your hands frequently; carry anti-bacterial gel with
Bolivia at all. Also, when you travel, make sure you’ve you when going out, and you may want to bring a good
vaccinated for that area. You will need to be vaccinated daily or multi-vitamin for general well being.
for Yellow Fever (available here for free or around 30
Bs.) if you travel to tropical areas. We highly advise you visit your travel clinic and take all
precautions before arriving. Health is a serious matter,
The average cost of any medical consultation is $20. not to be taken lightly. Don’t be surprised if at some
There are many clinics, doctors and pharmacies. Some point, even if you’re very cautious, you get sick from
have door-to-door service and some speak English. The contaminated food. Salmonella is common.
school or other teachers and friends have the contact Go to the Centers for Disease Control for more
numbers to help you find what you need. information http://www.cdc.gov
Because La Paz is at almost 13,000 feet in elevation and Make sure to drink only pre-boiled or purified water.
the air is thinner up here you may have to deal with the Safe inexpensive water is readily available everywhere.
affects of the altitude. Altitude sickness can be serious It’s a good idea to carry a bottle of water with you
but usually the symptoms are headaches, tiredness, wherever you go.
shortness of breath and dizziness, nausea, loss of
appetite and trouble sleeping. When you first get here
need a physical address and will bring it to the school):
The teacher has two main alternatives: living with a Highlands International School
family or living independently. Urbanización Valle del Sol
In the first case, the teacher can live with a Bolivian La Paz, Bolivia
family who offer a Christian environment, opportunities
for speaking and learning more Spanish, and a room You can give you family and friends the following
and board with a Bolivian touch. The teachers usually address for mail and packages:
have their independent quarters, have at least 3 meals a
day, and also have their clothes washed at an average Your name
cost of $220 monthly. c/o Highlands International School
Living with a family is recommended, at least when you La Paz, Bolivia
first get here. It makes your first days here a lot easier
instead of spending that time with no home, looking for If you would like your own post office box in the city, you
an apartment and shopping for all the necessary things. can rent one for about $20 a year.
You can also always move out later if you decide it is not
what you want. Living with a family, although you are not For international mail, regular post is best. After January
as independent, allows for wonderful opportunities to 1, 2006 all international mail is automatically insured by
learn Spanish quickly. the US Postal Service. Shipping companies like UPS or
FedEx can be really expensive and they tend to charge
The teachers can also rent an apartment, alone or with outrageous customs prices. Sometimes it can cost $75
one or more roommates. Apartments can be found just to pick up a package. If you would like to order
partially furnished. something from the Internet once you are here, it may be
a good idea not to have it shipped directly here. Have it
shipped from the company to a friend or family
Mail member’s house in the States and have them mail it to
The physical address of the you regular post. Most companies you would order from
school is the following (it is use shipping companies like UPS or FedEx.
not the mailing address, but
if you have something Letters usually take approximately 2 weeks to arrive.
shipped UPS or FedEx, they Also, when friends and family send packages, it is very
important not to list the value of the package as more
than $200 (or you will be taxed at least 20%). Do not It can be difficult to find good quality clothing at
send cash; packages are subject to search. reasonable prices here, but there are also outdoor
places during certain times of the week where good-
For emergencies, to place a quality used American and other foreign clothes can be
call to the school from the found very economically and in great shape. Also, it is
U.S. the phone number is rare to find clothing in larger sizes since most Bolivians
011-591-2-274-5113. Friends are smaller than the average US citizen.
and family members can also
call you directly if you have a Be sure to bring high quality shoes from the U.S., as well
cell phone here. All incoming as plenty of cotton socks. They are more difficult to
calls are free to you and it come by here. Larger sizes, especially for women, are
costs the caller whatever rates almost non existent here (Bolivians have small feet). If
they have with a long distance you wear larger than a women’s size 8, plan to bring all
company or international calling card. Generally, it is of your own shoes. Walking here can be an adventure;
much more economical for you to call them from Bolivia sidewalks and streets are often uneven or broken.
because rates are cheaper (usually an average cost is 1
B. per minute, which is about 7 cents). Spanish Classes
Spanish instruction is available through a private in-
Shopping home tutor at reasonable rates. You can set the time
La Paz has many low-cost, outdoor markets, where schedule and course of study.
kitchen gadgets and appliances (microwaves, coffee
makers, blenders), towels, blankets, furniture, imported Transportation
clothing, and more can be found. There are also many La Paz has many alternatives of
supermarkets with all kinds of local and imported safe, low-cost, wide-coverage public
products. Note that imported foods typically cost the transportation. A teacher would not
same or more than they would in the U.S. need to buy a car. Transport in and
around the city is quite simple. La
One of the major benefits here are the fresh food Paz is broken up into
outdoor markets. Several neighborhood markets have areas/neighbourhoods and most
their special day or days. Ask around. public transportation is within
walking distance. There are 4 main types of transport: Once you’re in La Paz you’ll need to start the process for
a one-year work Visa. This process also includes an ID
1. Taxi—the most expensive. However, convenient if card that permits the teacher to be identified without the
you live away from other transport, need to get passport and also permits the teacher to open local bank
somewhere quickly, or have several people in a accounts. Each teacher is expected to pay for the
group. outside help of an attorney or Visa processor. This first
2. Trufi— a taxi with a set route and cheaper than a stage should cost you somewhere between $400 and
regular taxi for oner person or a small group. $500.
Available on all main roads. The cars look similar to
taxis but will have signs in the windshield indicating Two months before the expiration date of the one-year
the route it takes. Visa, the teacher must begin the process of obtaining
3. Mini-Bus—looks like a 15 passenger mini-van and the second-year visa. All of the steps are the same, but
cheaper than a trufi. Signs are in the window the cost of the visa increases and again, there will be an
indicating the route it will take, and there is usually a additional cost for the help of an attorney or visa
person announcing from the window the places it will processor, making the cost of the second-year visa
take you. The cost is usually 1 or 2 Bs. slightly more than the first-year.
4. Micro—these are large buses carrying lots of
passengers. They make frequent stops. If you are The school gives all the necessary administrative leave
in a hurry, this is not the option to take. However, for the teachers to process their visas.
they are the most economical form of public
transportation, at 1 B.
Obtaining a visa before your arrival in Bolivia is not
necessary. When you arrive at the airport in La Paz
your passport will be stamped with a free 90-day tourist
visa. It is very important that you list your purpose as
―tourist‖ and your length of stay as ―90 days‖ on your
customs card as you enter the country. Please do not
write ―to work‖ or ―missionary.‖
3. What to Bring Don’t put all your valuable stuff in one bag, and hide
valuables well (luggage is often gone though) Try to
carry with you as many of your valuables as possible,
on your person or in your carry-on.
Most airlines will allow you to check Happy Packing!
two bags. You can usually pay for
extra baggage, but check with your Clothing:
airline for specific prices and weight Comfortable/Professional clothes to teach in (no jeans)
limits. American Airlines often have Mostly warmer clothing for La Paz (warm sweaters are
a luggage embargo during the US available in Bolivia)
summer months. Short-sleeved shirts and shorts for travel or warmer days
Besides the tag on the outside of Layers are the key in any season
the bags with contact information, Shoes: good hiking/walking shoes, nice shoes for
always include something on the school/church and sandals for warmer seasons and
inside with your contact name, traveling to warmer locations.
phone number and address in case warm pajamas
your luggage is lost. Keep a good-quality cotton socks and underwear
detailed list of what is in each bag swimsuit for travel
separately. In case your luggage is rain jacket
lost (and it does happen) this will help with the claim
process. A good suggestion is to leave a copy of your For the classroom:
packing list at the top of your luggage just to let the Dictionaries, thesaurus, Bibles
airport officials know that you will notice if something is (bilingual is helpful, Bibles in
missing. English are extremely hard to find
Remember good packing tips: here), StickyTac/Poster Putty,
Roll clothes spiral notebooks, pocket folders,
Put bulking items like sweaters in ZipLoc bags and loose leaf paper construction paper
squish out the air and binders (very expensive here),
Stuff things inside of other things like shoes stopwatch or timer if you use them
Use Zip Loc baggies for all liquid toiletry things in general desk needs — sticky notes, stapler, pencils with
case they leak erasers, stickers, grade book, plan book etc.
All teaching materials appropriate to grade level you’ll Head/Bodyache: Tylenol, Aleve, Excedrin, etc.
need. It’s hard to find anything here. Teaching resource Cold: Cold/Sinus medicines
books, games, special art supplies (paints and markers **Note: common medications here are very effective
and general things available here), science materials and economical, but if you have something
And of course, fun activities and goodies for your you’re particular to, bring it. Also, antibiotics
students! are sold over the counter here.
Some teachers choose to take advantage of the good Contact solution if you use it (very expensive here, if not
back-to-school sales before leaving the States and impossible to find)
supply the whole classroom with their school supplies Laptop computers can be useful
instead of having the students bring in their own. The A Flash or Thumb drive (USB connection/storage) can
students then reimburse the teacher for the per-child be extremely useful for storage of personal and school
cost of their supplies. This usually ends up being files and for pictures. These can be purchased at an
cheaper and sometimes prevents problems with office supply store for around $30+, but look for specials,
availability of school supplies here in Bolivia. they’re getting cheaper
8 ½ x 11‖ laminating is available here, but if you want
anything bigger than that done, do it before you come. For Traveling:
You may want protection (lamination or Contact Paper Sleeping bag (compact ones are harder to find here)
works well) for the things you want to keep nice for a travel bag/backpack, and any other travel or camping
while like posters and books and such because shipping items you might need (especially if you would like to be
and moving can be hard on materials. involved in the school’s Mountaineering Club).
Camel Pacs are nice if you will be doing any hiking.
Toiletries/Other Stuff: Backpacking towels are nice because they don’t take up
Sunglasses and hat (or buy them here) much room and dry quickly
Sunscreen (or buy it here) Bug Spray for traveling to tropical climates
Water bottle (Nalgene bottles are nice because they are Antibacterial gel/hand wipes.
so durable, or just use disposable ones here) Travel-sized toiletries or travel-sized containers to fill
For women—personal feminine products (pads are fairly here
inexpensive here, but you should bring all the tampons
you need. You can get them here, but it is $10 for a
Medicine (the following might be helpful):
Stomach: Pepto Bismol tablets, Imodium, etc.
cap erasers and pencils with the eraser on the end (hard
“Luxury/Comfort Items” or ideas for Care Packages: to find here)
Sometimes it's good to have some comfort food or items If you plan to do much baking, a ―high altitude‖ cookbook
when you’re missing home. It is a good idea to bring a might be nice – baking at a high altitude is very different!
few of your favorites, or if people ask what they can send There is at least one available here for about $25
you, you have some ideas. specializing in national recipes.
Good smelling candles or special soap. (There’s no If You Will Be Living on Your Own/Not With a Family:
Bath&Body Works in La Paz ) Candles are usually If you intend to have a cat or dog here: appropriate flea
fairly expensive here compared to other things and the collars (everything else is available here, including shots
scents are usually not very good. which are quite inexpensive. Vet care is very
There are plenty of local candy bars and snacks, and inexpensive here and they make house calls!)
here you can also find here Snickers, Pringles, Doritos, Sheets and pillow (towels you can find here)
Pepsi and Coke. You won’t be able to get Reese’s or **Note: Most things you would need to set up a house
good chocolate stuff here. are available here: small kitchen and household
If peanut butter is a regular part of your diet, bring some. appliances including washers/dryers, blenders, coffee
It’s hard to find here and when you do, it is $4-5 for a makers, microwaves, ect. dishes, silverware, hand
small jar. towels, bath towels and all furniture, blankets.
Chocolate chips you won’t find here, except maybe Computers are not easy to find here.
around the Holidays, and then they’re expensive.
The students also enjoy any candy or treats you may
want to bring them. Fun-size candy bars are very
Personal reading materials. Books and magazines in
English are hard to come by
Coffee is available here and once in a while the stores
have creamer, but for the coffee connoisseur a good
blend of coffee is well appreciated.
Other hot-drink mixes you may want to bring (hot
chocolate is available here and lots of tea, but if you are
a tea connoisseur, you may wish for some better blends)
School supplies are always welcome is care packages,
especially construction paper, StickyTac, Post-It notes,
4. Living In La Paz and
Helpful Stuff After You Get Here There are a couple movie theaters
up in the city offering he most
U.S. Embassy in La Paz current movies that would be
It is highly recommended that you register at the released in the states. The
embassy. This will put a copy of your passport on file in admission fee is about 24 Bs. One
case of loss or theft, or for any other emergency. Putting theater usually has some movies in
it on file will also help expedite the process of securing a English or with English subtitles.
new passport should the need arise. Registering with
the embassy by Internet or in person also allows you to Movies can be rented from established stores for about
be informed and kept updated regarding Bolivia’s 6 Bs. each for a few days at a time. Sky Movie is the
political and social situation and any travel advisories. If Bolivian version of a Blockbuster. Almost all movies
you go to the embassy to do this, you’ll need to do it on here, rented and purchased are pirated.
a day with no school because of their business hours or
call ahead to make an appointment.
Through cable TV, we have
access to international channels,
many in English (CNN, BBC, HBO,
Spanish instruction is available through a private in-
Hallmark, TNT, Fox Sports,
home tutor at reasonable rates. You can set the time
Discovery Channel, History
schedule and course of study. There are many private
Channel, WB, Sony, etc.)
tutors available but we highly recommend a man named
Jaime. His home number is 245-1529. He has worked
with a number of the teachers and the school and is a
The City (pizza), Mr. Pizza, Italian restaurants, Cactus (Tex-Mex)
The city is and many more!
divided into In El Centro there is another Café Alexander, La Terraza
three major and Fridolin and also Dumbo’s (sit-down, variety menu),
zones. La Zona and Eli’s Pizza. You can even find Burger King and
Sur is the Subway if you like. If everyone wants something
lowest different, try out La Jungle. This is a food-court style
elevation, a little place but with sit-down restaurants.
where the If you’d like a nice evening out some restaurants to try
wealthier may be Mongos (varied
neighborhoods are. Two of those neighborhoods are menu), RamJam’s
Cala Cota and San Miguel. (varied menu, good
El Centro is ―the city‖ and some of its neighborhoods steak and chicken
are Miraflores, Sopocachi and San Pedro dishes) and
El Alto, a separate city, is highest in elevation, where the Highlanders (Mexican)
airport is and very poor neighborhoods. in El Centro, or Chalet
The Prado is the main strip in the city with the most Suisse and Le Fondue
action. This is where the movie theaters are, the post in la Zona Sur. These
office, big businesses and many restaurants and cafés. are typically the ―gringo
places‖ and much
Restaurants more expensive than
There are many excellent restaurants around La Paz. the Bolivian places. At
You can find anything from Tex-Mex, Pizza, a typical Bolivian
Sandwiches, Chinese and steak, as well as many restaurant, you can get
Bolivian restaurants. a full meal for between
50 cents and $2.
The following restaurants are in San Miguel: Café
Beruit, Café Berlin, Alexanders Café, Fridolin (café), La
Terraza (café/varied menu), La Iguana (―Mexican‖), Eli’s
Shopping: in good condition. There are well-known and good
quality brands. Jeans, depending on the brand and
condition can be found for 20-60 Bs. A sweater will
Grocery Shopping usually be around 20-25 Bs. or less.
There is no such thing as one-stop shopping in Bolivia.
There are grocery stores, but they may not always have
what you’re looking for. Most grocery shopping can be When you go, be extra cautious with your valuables as
done at markets and this is much cheaper and a fun way theft is much more common there and foreigners are
to get into the culture. The bigger grocery stores targets. Don’t wear jewelry and don’t bring a purse or
sometimes get shipments of American food, which is backpack; market bags are better, which can be found
good for a treat, but they sell out quickly. When you find anywhere in the city and will hold plenty. Thieves will
something you like, be it an American treat or not, you sometimes slash pockets or backpack to get valuable. It
may want to stock up because you may not see it again is a good idea
for a long time. Most ―normal‖ groceries you can find to carry them
here. Milk here is shelf-life milk so it lasts longer and somewhere
tastes different, and it is sold in bags. You’ll need to get safe inside
a plastic pitcher to hold the bag to pour the milk. your clothes,
Some of the grocery stores in the Zona Sur are Ke Tal and not to
on Calle 15 and Av Ballivián (huge red and blue keep all your
building), HiperMaxi on Av Ballivián next to Burger King. money in one
Some major ones in El Centro are KeTal on Avenida place.
Arce and Zatt near Plaza Alvaroa among others. Sometimes
thieves will do
Market Shopping something to
For clothes and other things there are the respective distract you
markets around the city. Most markets are set up so like spit on you
that similar things can be found in close proximity to or spill
each other. On Thursdays and Sundays only, there is a something on
huge outdoor market in El Alto. There you can find you and while
almost anything you need, from sweaters and jeans to you’re busy
pet monkeys (which are illegal here, so don’t get your taking care of
hopes up). The clothes are used and most can be found it, they’re
stealing your valuables. These are some scenarios, not many laboratories. The school or other teachers and
the norm. It’s not a scary place, but just be cautious. friends have the contact numbers to help you find what
you need, but here are some:
Shopping for Souvenirs
The best place to shop for souvenirs for friends and Dr. Guillermo Guierra for stomach/gastro intestinal
family and yourself is Sagárnaga. This is the street that problems. He speaks English and went to medical
goes up, away from the Prado next to the church San school in the States. His clinic is in Sopacachi on Calle
Francisco. There you will find anything you may want, Ecuador. His phone number is 7061-1180.
including travel agencies. The prices may be a bit more
in a place like this because it is where all the tourists go, Dr. Sergio Rojas is an ear/nose/throat specialist. He
but it’s also the only place you can find some things. Be also speaks English and his office is in the big KeTal
sure to look for bolivianite, a semi-precious stone native building on Calle 15 in Cala Cota. The phone number for
and special to Bolivia. his office is 277-4913
There are also several craft fairs and bazaars throughout
the year, where you can find more unique, artistic items,
but often at a higher price.
Trips / Sightseeing
Health and Doctors There are many great places to visit just outside of La
For healthy living, remember all the tips about living at Paz and throughout Bolivia! Fellow teachers and friends
high altitude and take care of yourself. Because of the will have plenty of helpful hints for places to visit and
altitude when you get sick, your energy is drained more ways to spend those long weekends and breaks. Or try
than it would be elsewhere. Wash your hands frequently visiting a local travel agency. Near Calle Sagarnaga and
and carry anti-bacterial gel with you when going out. Calle Santa Cruz in the city are quite a few agencies.
Asking around once you get to these streets can prove
helpful. Also, a quick trip to the bus terminal will give
The average cost of any you an idea of some places to go, but without the help of
medical consultation is $10-20. the travel agencies.
There are many clinics, doctors
and pharmacies. Some have
door-to-door service and some The double-decker, red bus tour in La Paz might be a
speak English. There are also good way to get to know the city when you get here.
Traveling by Bus
Options for accommodations in South America are Most areas can be reached easiest and most
hotels and hostels. Hotels are more expensive and economically by bus.
nicer. Hostels are the most economical and can include Here are a few Ideas:
private or shared bathrooms and breakfast in the
mornings. Cochabamba is about 8 hours from La Paz by bus. It is
greener and warmer than La Paz, a nice change if you
need it. (about 60 Bs. round-trip )
Traveling by Air
Plane travel is available to many places and in-country Santa Cruz is about 16 hours by bus from La Paz and
flights are rather inexpensive. The airlines that service tropical.
the La Paz and Bolivia areas are American Airlines
(usually the most expensive), LAB (Bolivia’s national Copacabana is 3 hours away by mini-bus on the shore
airline), and TAM (the unadvertised military operated of Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake.
airline (the cheapest). This trip should cost you less than 15 bs. each way
(that’s less than $4 round trip!)There are usually paddle
Each time you travel boats available for rental and you can enjoy a nice lunch
internationally from the La of trout by the lake. Or ask the boat drivers to take you
Paz airport count on paying a on a 1-½ hour ferry ride over to Isla del Sol (Island of the
$25 international airport tax at Sun). You can enjoy nice hikes, ancient ruins, hostels,
the La Paz airport before animals, and just seeing the life of the locals.
traveling. If you have stayed
in La Paz for more than 30 Coroico is also only 3 hours away, only in the opposite
consecutive days, count on direction to the Yungas, a more tropical location. To get
paying an additional fee of Bs there you take a mini-bus on what is proclaimed to be
120 (about $15). Always take the ―world’s most dangerous
extra money just in case. road‖ by National
Geographic. While Coroico
may be a relaxing and
beautiful destination, the
roadway can truly be
dangerous. Should you go,
the Hotel Esmeralda comes recommended with its environments
beautiful views, hot tub, pool, hammocks, nice rooms, for a bit. By
and nice choice of meals. the way,
There are many other places to travel to not listed. Some breakfast is
are weekend trips, some would need a longer, 3-day included in
weekend or an extended break like Christmas or Easter. their
Because Bolivia is centrally located in South America, it restaurant.
allows us wonderful opportunities for traveling to other
nearby countries and famous cities and locations such
as Machu Picchu, near Cuzco, Peru.
Living on your own/Not with a family:
Visitors Most apartments can be found partially furnished.
If you have visitors coming and don’t have room to Should you need to buy appliances such as
house them, they can either go with traditional hotels like washer/dryer, refrigerator or microwave that can easily
The Radission, Camino Real or the Plaza Hotel (about be done in the market area of El Centro, called
$100/night), or they can go the economy route. One Huyustus. Most appliances are more affordable than
recommendation is Hotel Sagarnaga on Calle they would be in the States and are paid for in Dollars.
Sagarnaga, where a room can be $5 a night, sharing a
bathroom. Careful: the initial quote at the reception Once you’re settled in, you may want to set up an
desk may be $40. account with a water company such as Claryt, to have
They can be drinking water in your home. To start a new account
seriously talked with them is around 120 bs. and each refill of the 5-
down. Say that you gallon water jug is 18 bs. When you need a refill, call
heard a room is $5 them at 222-1414 and they will come that day.
a night and that’s
why you’re there. You will also probably need a propane tank for a gas
This is also a stove. This can be purchased also in Huyustus with
simple and easy appliances, or wherever they sell gas stoves. The initial
way to get a break set-cost includes the deposit for the garrafa (propane
yourself if you just tank) and all necessary hoses and gauges. When you
need to change
need a refill on the gas, take your garrafa to the street
and wait for the truck to come buy. You can also
exchange your empty tank for a full one at some
neighborhood stores. It will cost about 20-25 Bs. When
you leave Bolivia you return the garrafa and get the
Water and Electric bills are delivered to your house. The
amount is in Bs. and you take it to any bank to pay it.
Different areas of town may have different electric rates.
Homes and apartments do not have indoor heating, so
you may plan on buying some type of space heater.
Hiring a maid is quite common here in La Paz and very
inexpensive. The extra help can be nice, especially if
you have a family. Some people have someone come
one or just a few days a week for extra help cleaning
and cooking or maybe just to go to the market and
prepare fruits and vegetables. Others hire full-time help.
Most houses and apartments are designed with an extra
small room for your maid should you choose to have one
live with you. It may seem a bit extravagant for
missionaries to have maids, but this helps the local
economy and can help you to focus more on your
Some homes and apartments have water heaters. Most
do not, so hot water from the faucet is very uncommon.
Attached to the shower is an electric device that makes
the water warm at the spout.