I arrived at El Alto very early yesterday morning, and have been keeping extremely busy since. My apartment is shared with four other United States students who are interning at the Embassy here in La Paz. I feel very lucky to be staying with such diverse, interesting, and kind company.
The altitude is certainly a doozy. It comes and goes for me, but is especially bad at night & early morning. It is also happens to be freezing during those exact same times, but the climate is (fortunately!) completely comfortable in the middle of the day.
Yesterday I met with the cultural affairs officer I have been working with at the U.S. Embassy: Fabiola. She introduced me to the Embassy staff and brought me to the museum for the first time. I met with my supervisor, Oscar, about the project that the museum wants me to implement. He is on vacation for the week, though, so I will be working with other museum employees until next Tuesday. A driver took me back to our apartment, which is 30 to 40 minutes away from the museum.Later in the day I went to the supermarket with other State Dept. interns Julia & Jimmy, for some groceries (I hadn’t eaten all day!). It was interesting, but kind of reminiscent of the main supermarket in Tuscany/Central Italy (Esselunga) from when I lived there back in ’08.
I made it to work this morning all on my own – I’m already learning to navigate the streetsss!
Today I have to install and start working with File Maker Pro to learn the system and begin implementing a metadata schema to organize item-level data for the museum’s media history collection. I’ll begin sorting through 40 years of media and press coverage, articles, events, and programs to digitize and put in a database for the museum. I am actually much more comfortable and okay with the technical requirements of this role than with my horribly patchy Spanish. No one at this museum speaks a lick of English, and on top of that, the Aymara and Quechua influences on the language make it very different from the Spanish I am familiar with – which makes for an exciting (if intimidating) challenge! I expected this first week to require a sharp learning curve, and a lot of listening – and it’s certainly held up to this so far…which is fine! I’m exhausted right now, but hope to post some more once I become acclimated to the altitude, climate, and culture, and get more comfortable in my new museum role :)
Missing everyone from home!