News - March 11, 2010

Fleeing from Bolivia

He found himself pelted with stones in Bolivia at one moment, and the next seated at a veranda in Buenos Aires enjoying the view. Pascal ten Have, MSc student in forest and nature management, spent his internship roaming South America.

'My original plan was to spend five months in Bolivia going through forested areas of the local farmers in order to chart these areas. The local university would pay for my research and provide me with a good working area. However, it didn't go as planned. I was told instead that I had to pay for everything myself. Besides, the university was occupied by armed extreme rightist students, leaving me with no workplace. Subsequently, I was pelted with stones because I was leftist. The situation was no longer pleasant. The last straw was when my former girlfriend dumped me over the telephone. Dejected, I then decided to flee Bolivia and do what I had always wanted to do: roam South America.
Short skirts
'My first destination was Buenos Aires where I took a breather from the bad experiences. I spent much time on terraces and enjoyed the wonderful weather and the sight of beautiful girls in short skirts. I gave serious thought to what I really wanted out of my internship. Subsequently, I headed for the vast woods of Patagonia where I worked for nine national parks. I helped to train and support foreigners doing a tour guide course. I spent my leisure hours in the nature. With a heavy pack, I hiked through the vast forests without coming across a single human being throughout the day.  It wasn't always easy to be all alone.
'I also worked in Santiago by helping to organize a film festival in a ghetto. Although the atmosphere was very relaxed, ME vans were stationed around the corner all the time. It appeared that I was the only foreigner. As I could speak both Spanish and English, I did the subtitles for the English films. On the way to my workplace in the ghetto, I was often confronted by people who told me that I didn't belong there and that it would be better for me to turn back. But I did not encounter any serious problems. From Santiago, I travelled to Peru and visited almost all the tourist spots there were to be visited.
'I had been through a lot during my internship: threatened and dumped in Bolivia, relaxed enormously in Buenos Aires, wandered through the vast woods of Patagonia, worked in a ghetto, and was a tourist in Peru. Never before in my life have I been through so many ups and downs in such a short period of time.'