There’s something quite special about Bolivia which seems to capture the imagination of many young travellers and experienced wanderers by way of its geographic diversity, vast areas of remoteness and warm and welcome, multi-ethnic population, making it many visitors preferred home away from home. This relatively poor nation is filled with magic and mystery, from the ancient ruins Tiwanaku and Samaipata to the trails of the great Che Guevara.
Bolivia offers one of South America’s most charming and romantic experiences, known and loved for its rugged, rural landscapes which seem to belong to another time and place, and towns and cities which have avoided urbanisation and modernization, full of class and grandeur, still wearing the influences of Spanish colonialism, many of which seem like living museums, including areas of the capital city, La Paz.
Despite being the proud capital city, La Paz has a population barely over one million. Founded in 1548 by the Spanish conquistadors, it remains a fascinating mix of Spanish colonial architecture, Native American influences, ancient cultures and modern day Latin America. High-rise buildings sit side by side with Spanish style villas, townhouses and grand palaces, all under the watchful eyes of the Illimani mountain laying to the south of the city.
Bolivian culture is a colourful mix of many ancient cultures and modern influences. Inca, Aymara and other indigenous cultures still heavily influence art, music and clothing, to what extent much depending upon the region of the country you are in. As a result Bolivia is all about community and festivals, home to a population who love to celebrate their history and diversity of culture. Two of the biggest passions of the Bolivians are animals and football. The country has a number of zoos and animal parks, all of which seem well attended, and the national sport of football is followed and practised like a religion!
Teaching English in Bolivia
Whilst there is no shortage of English teaching jobs in Bolivia very few of them pay well, with many offering little to no pay at all. Many teachers, new and experience,d come to teach in Bolivia as volunteers for the many nongovernmental organisations, some of which even charge teachers to join their projects. But whilst the pay is low the social rewards and teaching experience is plentiful, and you’ll expect to leave with priceless memories and lots of new, lifelong friends.
Teaching contracts and projects also tend to be quite short term, often dealt with one month at a time, which can make volunteer teaching less of a financial burden, with more possibility to see it as a working holiday or a way of gaining valuable experience teaching English in a foreign country. For those who do seek longer term contracts in Bolivia, government sponsored organizations (NGO’s) such as the Peace Corps offer two year programs. Whilst NGO jobs usually include free accommodation and a small allowance, you will rarely earn enough to live on and will be expected to use some of your own savings to get by.
There are some paid teaching jobs in Bolivia and whilst it’s even rarer to find a TEFL job in the Bolivia which would allow you to save, there are jobs here paying US$400 to $600, which should at least cover most people’s monthly outgoings.